The modern human being has naturally evolved to need a fairly regular supply of food treats for its wellbeing and long-term emotional happiness. I believe ancient woman felt uplifted and warm when her caveman brought home a particularly tasty haul of berries and a succulent hunk of boar. The atmosphere in the cave would have been more convivial and less grunt-response compared with the misery days when supper was a handful of dandelion leaves. Life would have seemed good, do-able, serendipitous. Food and sex was all they had, really.
As we get older, the sex is often not quite so important so the food treats become more so. But at any age, our need to reward ourselves with good thing is one of the main reasons that so many slimming diets and maintenance plans fail. We can only be good so long, it's programmed in us. We want the thrill of our modern equivalent of the berries and the hunk of juicy meat because life is a little bit more dull and worthy and stripped without it.
So I have been making sure that I have two little snacky treats every day as well as my healthy breakfast, lunch and supper. It really does keep me happy and even better, most of the treats I choose are actually quite 'good'. I try to keep them at no more than 100 calories and try mostly to avoid things made completely, or largely of sugar – more and more research seems to show that sugar really is the biggest 'baddie' in our diets. And of course the cavedwellers didn't eat sugar at all. They enjoyed the occasional sweetish flavour from those berries and other wild fruits they could find.
For anyone who's interested, here are some of my favourite treats at the moment. You may think the list is a little strange – but they are all things I enjoy, and that's all that matters.
- Multiseed Ryvita topped with a good wodge of soft goat's cheese.
- Large round rice cake topped with Marmite (only 50 calories).
- Half a small avocado with a drizzle of good balsamic.
- A hard-boiled organic egg dipped in celery salt.
- A small palmful of chocolate chips and cashew nuts.
- Small bowlful of Greek yogurt drizzled with tad of manuka honey - just as good as custard.
- 3 Cadbury's chocolate fingers and a cup of Ceylon tea (well I did say I 'try' to avoid mostly sweet things. I don't necessarily always want to manage it.)
Ate last night: A venison casserole – full of lovely lean protein from the game and with masses of added flavour from a variety of mushrooms – flats, button, and soaked dried porcinis, some shallots, some sliced peppers and garlic. The liquid was a mix of good beef stock and red wine. I stirred some seasoned flour into the meat and vegetable mix before adding the liquid so that after 2 hours slow cooking (around 140c) the sauce was thick and glossy.
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