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Are treats really so bad?

When I ask my customers what they should change when it comes to eating habits they often say ‘the treats’. If I could just leave out all treats then surely I’ll start to lose weight? After all, I shouldn’t eat treats, should I?


To give up treats…

For whatever reason this easy instruction doesn’t quite seem to work. If you decide never to eat treats then all it does it makes you want them more! Here comes the example I have used in my lectures: “Hi, I’m Marika and I am a nutrition coach. I have one rule in my lectures: you cannot drink water”. This statement is followed by a deep silence and some puzzled looks. And then, everyone starts to feel thirsty!  The bottom line is that if something is prohibited it makes you want it more. Even if you weren’t feeling thirsty before the statement, you are now! The same applies when people use the phrase “I shouldn’t”.


So if I suggest that banning treats doesn’t work, then what does? This is something my customers regularly ask me. It’s about your mindset too. For example, imagine yourself sitting on the beach and a big wave hits you, but then passes. As sure as I am that the wave will pass, so will any cravings you have in your mind. You just need to be patient and the urge will pass. Surely the wait is unpleasant but just find something else to do to occupy your mind, for example see a friend or go for a walk.


Or are you hungry?

It’s not worth putting yourself in a position where you start craving something sweet. Normally we get cravings for treats when we are HUNGRY. Hunger can come from having long gaps in between meals or poor eating habits (I have written about this before). You could also think what you really need to have at home? Are the cookies there for the guests? Am I really saving money if I buy a big bag of sweets on sale or 3 chocolate bars for the price of 2? Am I just finding an excuse to buy treats?


Enjoy or feel guilty?

Of course every now and then it’s ok to eat treats. It’s enjoyable! When you do choose something nice to eat make sure it’s something you really like, whether it’s chocolate or fish and chips or take-aways in general. Enjoy it, rather than feel guilty. When having a treat is a decision you have made (i.e. you have planned it in advance) then enjoy it and don’t stress about it. The worst possible feeling is when there is a situation you just drifted into and you feel guilty afterwards.


And what does the See How You Eat Coach say about treats? Well, you can even get a heart. When we look at the issue further we see that one little pink heart doesn’t make such a difference. Just keep looking at the bigger picture.


Happy eating.


Marika Venäläinen

Authorised Nutritionist

Master of Health Science (Nutrition)

10 years of experience helping people with nutrition challenges


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