Clean eating is the act of cleaning up one’s diet and consuming more whole foods and less processed foods with a focus on quality, or as I like to say; “getting the most bang for your health out of food”. Sadly, clean eating has been tainted by some fad diets and some pretty questionable practices. One of these practices is the “clean eating” dessert trend/gimmick. Why?
Touted as being sugar free a large amount of these desserts are far from sugar free, they generally contain maple syrup, agave, honey, coconut sugar… all still sugars. Although honey and maple syrup consumed in small amounts (100 calories/week) is not going to make it break it when it comes to your health, consuming these sugars daily and regularly however is not a healthy habit. Dried fruits are another issue, they don’t work the in the body in the same way as whole fruits, they have a much higher blood sugar impact and should be treated like honey and maple syrup. We should be getting our sugar from whole fruits, grains, and vegetables….
We all know sugar is addictive and many associate sugars with desserts. Although some clean eating desserts use better quality sugars and ingredients, they are still contributing to the psychological aspect of the addiction. Non-alcoholic beer/wine/coolers and e-cigarettes have been proven not to support someone quitting because it is stimulating the same addictive pathways in the brain. These pathways need to be re-routed to break the addiction cycle in any addiction including a sugar/food addiction. Replacing poor quality desserts with "healthier" desserts is a good idea however one is still encouraging the same pathways in the brain.
Dessert culture is the foundation to emotional eating! If you finish your plate you can have dessert. If you are a good girl/boy mommy will buy you ice cream…. You get the picture. As adults, when we have a bad or even a good day we reach for those desserts as comfort or rewards because it has been programmed since we where children. By continuing the dessert culture with “healthier” desserts we are not addressing this emotional eating pattern at all, just justifying it.
Food addiction is one of the least talked about addictions and eating disorders, we need to stop being in denial and address this issue when trying to improve our nutrition. Clean eating desserts are just another way to avoid dealing with some of the underlying issues to unhealthy eating trends. It is not going to help you create a strong foundation for healthy eating practices.
Clean eating desserts are much healthier then traditional desserts full of refined sugars and flours and other questionable ingredients. They should however not be part of our day to day lives, but kept to holidays and celebrations, just don’t confuse those two with rewards or comfort moments!
Dana Clark CNHP, CHN, CHC, CLE
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