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Collegiette Eats: Treat Yourself

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Sick of eating cereal and ramen for lunch and dinner? Want to spend less money eating out and finally start cooking for yourself? Put down that frozen pizza, because HC’s Health Editor, Sammie Levin, is here to share her daily eats so you can get ideas for healthy, satisfying meals that are easy enough for any time-strapped collegiette to make. After you read Collegiette Eats, your taste buds, wallet and waistline will thank you.

Today on Collegiette Eats, I bring you "Collegiette Treats," a reminder that treating yourself can and should be a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Life is too short to say no to every single cupcake you cross paths with or to order only salad at every single restaurant you go to. As you've already heard a million times, the key is moderation. However, moderation is easier said then done. Sure, in theory you'll just have one square of dark chocolate, but then the next thing you know, the whole bar is gone. Sometimes it may feel like that one big meal or dessert can set off an entire night or week of more unhealthy indulgences. So how do you treat yourself while still maintaining your health goals? 

Before I give you my advice on how to indulge without totally throwing in the towel, I'll show you what I've indulged in lately. With lots of end-of-semester festivities and friends' 21st birthday celebrations happening in the past week, I've had more opportunities than usual to dig into some delicious treats. My favorites are featured below.

The first is an herbed meatball sandwich with tomato sauce, carmelized onions, Parmesan and argula on a grilled onion bun from Eat, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Ann Arbor. I try to limit the amount of meat that I eat, but I really do love meatballs, and this sandwich was too tempting to pass up as I was reading the menu. I had it for dinner the night before one of my final exams. After many hours of studying, it was nice to take a break from staring at my notes and enjoy a delicious sandwich with friends. 

Next comes a trio of unbelievable flatbread pizzas from Mani Osteria, an Italian restaurant in Ann Arbor, from my friend's birthday dinner. We were a large group, so we had the luxury of ordering a bunch of different kinds of pizzas and getting tastes of each. The first is pistachio, red onion and goat cheese; the second is burrata and balsamic; and the third is truffle and egg. I honestly don't know which one was my favorite; the flavor combinations were all so unique, and the crusts were crisped to perfection. 

I saved the best treat for last: a banana nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream from Cafe Zola. Nutella is life. If you haven't already heard, it's better than boys. This crepe did Nutella's legacy justice. One of the best desserts I've had in a while. 

After that food porn, you're probably ready for a treat of your own. So what's the best way to go about indulging when you're trying to maintain a healthy diet? Here are my top three tips for how to treat your treats. 

1. Split them

The pizzas and the crepe I had were ordered for the table, split amongst me and several of my friends. With this setup, I was able to get the benefit of the taste of the treat without even having the option of overdoing it. If I had ordered the crepe just for myself, I would have undoubtedly finished it myself even if I was full after a few bites because it would have been too good to put my fork down. My willpower would break down with all of that Nutella deliciousness in front of me. If you're good about stopping when you're full and satisfied and aren't prone to going overboard, then splitting may not be as necessary for you. However, if you find that you're constantly telling yourself you'll "just have a bite or two" but then never stop until your plate is clean, then consider sharing your dessert or that side of four-cheese macaroni with a friend or a few others. If you can't find someone at the table to split the dish you want with you, another alternative is to ask your server to package half in a to-go container before you dig in. 

2. Plan around them

If you know you're headed to a big feast or anywhere with a lot of treats, make adjustments througout the rest of the day or week to give your diet some wiggle room. For example, hit the gym that morning or swap your breakfast bagel for a green smoothie. If you have a bunch of desserts at a graduation party, maybe nix dessert the next day. This strategy allows for flexibility and balance in your diet. You don't have to swear off your favorite treats for good when you're trying to lose or maintain weight - you just have to successfully work around them. 

3. Get over them 

I have a bad tendency of letting one overindulgence set me off on a few more unhealthy indulgences over the next few days, and I know I'm not alone in that. But instead of attempting to rationalize this behavior with the mentality that one "bad" food choice ruins a whole day, recognize that staying healthy is not about deprivation. A treat here and there can help you stay sane and happy. So instead of regretting the banana Nutella crepe the second you finish it, savor it and embrace it. If the one treat turns into a binge, take a step back and remind yourself of your health goals. Don't beat yourself up over a slipup. Move on and make your next few choices align with those goals, and you'll be back on track before you know it.  


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