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(BPT) - There’s no doubt the pandemic has shifted attitudes toward diet and exercise. Research recently conducted by FMCG Gurus indicates that consumers are placing an enhanced focus on boosting their health through efforts like increased physical activity — but at the same time are turning to indulgent foods as an outlet for their stress and a source of happiness, familiarity and comfort.
The FMCG Gurus report showed that over half (56%) of consumers worldwide purchased comfort food on a regular basis due to the pandemic. Consuming indulgent foods can often make people feel like they are failing in their wellness efforts. However, when consumers are more intentional and thoughtful about exactly how they indulge, they can both enjoy their treats and know that they're practicing positive self-care at the same time.
Experts are calling this approach “purposeful indulgence.”
“When people are purposeful about their indulgent food choices, they don’t have to feel they're making sacrifices to achieve their wellness goals. They can enjoy their favorite types of foods by simply being more mindful of their choices and looking for options that optimize both taste satisfaction and well-being,” said Sapana Chandra, cookbook author and certified health coach who runs the popular food blog Real + Vibrant. “One way to be more purposeful with indulgent food choices is to look for ones made with clean, high-quality ingredients — these can not only be better for your body and mind, but in many cases are also better for the planet. These ‘permissible indulgences’ allow people to feel like they can still treat themselves and achieve the balance they seek in their lives.”
Here are some ways to indulge your cravings, but also be good to yourself — and in some cases the planet — at the same time.
1. Buy local
You can both support local farmers and find tasty and nutritious ingredients like fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables by shopping at your community’s farmers markets and orchards. Get to know local farmers and ask what items are at their peak at any given time to find the most delicious items available.
2. Indulge in snacks that satisfy your cravings — and your desire for quality
Organic snacks provide a great option for indulgence and quality. For example, if you crave salty, crunchy goodness, SpudLove Organic Thick-Cut Potato Chips, a 100% organic, non-GMO and certified gluten-free snack is a great choice. The chips are slow-cooked and cut 10% thicker than traditional kettle chips for maximum crunch and more potato taste. SpudLove is farmer-owned. The potatoes are sustainably grown by fifth-generation farmers who put extra love into caring for the land to grow the highest-quality organic potatoes. You can check them out at SpudLoveSnacks.com.
3. Check out sweet treats with better-for-you ingredients
If your idea of permissible indulgence is sweets but you would like something with less sugar, you'll be happy to know that more products are being made today with naturally derived sweeteners such as honey and agave, and taste just as good as those made with refined sugars. You can also choose to make your own indulgent homemade desserts and sweet snacks using recipes with honey, agave, monk fruit sweetener or stevia.
4. Enjoy plant-based fats
The human body craves fats as part of a balanced diet, but where those fats come from makes a difference for your overall health. Cooking with, and eating, plant-based fats such as avocados, olives, nuts and seeds provides nutrition while also satisfying your desire for rich flavors and creamy textures.
5. Read before you indulge
Occasional treats won’t derail your wellness goals, especially if you take time to read nutrition labels. Look for products with “clean labels,” those containing fewer, simpler ingredients. If you can identify all the ingredients listed, this can help you steer clear of highly processed foods and lead you to products made from more naturally sourced ingredients.
By being more purposeful about indulgent food choices, it can be easy to satisfy your food cravings and still keep wellness at the forefront.