How to Determine a Good or Bad Treat


apple versus cupcake

A calorie may always be a calorie but not all treats are created equal. If you're like millions of Americans, you sometimes crave a snack. Maybe it is just something to get you through the rest of the day or an incredible urge that hits in the middle of your favorite TV program. Either way, it is important to your healthy eating to take time and weigh your options. Chances are good that you can quickly determine the price you are going to pay for your indulgence, as well as whether or not you choosing a good or bad treat.

For comparison, let's start with an apple versus a cupcake. Bet you already know which one is going to be the good treat. The apple is a fresh fruit and the cupcake is a baker's delight. But, by comparing the two, you can gain a better understanding of how to make good food decisions. After all, food cravings are always an issue regardless of where you are at in your weight loss program.

Let's start with the apple. A quick search online tells us that our first choice comes from a deciduous tree in the rose family that is best known for its sweet, pomaceous fruit. A medium size apple (about 3 inches in diameter) has 0 mg of cholesterol and is a good source of potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber. At 95 calories, it is ready to eat or can be baked with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

Before we look at the nutrition facts for our competitor, think back to the cupcakes that you ate as child. What a treat that was. You would slowly peel back the paper before biting through the icing on top into the moist cake below. Chances are good that the cupcake your grandmother made contained about twice the calories of the apple. Unfortunately, the cupcake has grown in size proportionately with the average American waistline. Today's bakery cupcake contains around 600 calories with 12 grams of saturated fats and has little nutritional value.

But don't despair. There are hundreds of good cupcake recipes online and many bakeries are already making healthier options for those who choose to eat better. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be added to the cake mix and sugar can be replaced with an artificial sweetener. For a guilt-free icing, there are numerous recipes that use yogurt, cream cheese, nut butter, and even veggies like avocados are finding their way to the top. If you can't find something you like, check out In the Kitchen with MRC, there are dozens of unique options for Good Treats.

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