Healthy Chocolate Milkshake | A Couple Cooks

Healthy Chocolate Milkshake

We’ve been sharing all sorts of factors related to healthy eating in our Healthy & Whole series: guilt, judgement, mindful eating, and finding time to name a few. Here, we share one of our most significant healthy-living mottos: “All things in moderation”. 

It’s easy to make food into the bad guy: to blame food for our inability to eat the way we want to. “It was the cookie’s fault — it was just sitting there, waiting to be eaten.” Then we’ll justify why we caved, how we’ll do better next time, all the while knowing we’ll most likely go back for another (or two or three). And then we feel guilty.

Yep, Alex and I have been there (probably more me than him, admittedly). But we were ready for a change in the way we thought about food. After some reading on the subject, we decided to subscribe to an “all things in moderation” philosophy, instead of defining foods as “good” and “bad”.

Instead of making certain foods strictly off-limits, we let ourselves to eat whatever we want, whenever we want. But at the same time, we cook and eat as much as possible at home, keep the pantry stocked with mostly healthy and natural foods, and make sure to splurge once in a while.

Since we love cooking at home and natural, nutritious foods are addicting themselves (once you’ve tasted real foods, it’s hard to go back), we haven’t found ourselves craving processed or fast food – it’s actually the opposite. And since nothing is off limits: chocolate, wine, even a big cheeseburger if we really want one, we don’t have to live the guilt cycle. It also makes it really easy to be vegetarian: we tend to cook mostly vegetarian at home and splurge on fish or meat when out to eat, guests are in town, etc.

It takes a bit of training (since our minds were used to the “good” and “bad” mentality), but overall, it’s helped us to have a much more balanced approach to everyday eating.

How about you? Does this resonate at all with the way you think about food?

**Random post-post addendum: we also use the same philosophy for buying local and organic. We buy local and organic as much as we can, but don’t beat ourselves up trying to do this 100% of the time.

Healthy & Whole Series
Slowing Down
Be Bold
Get Inspired
What We Eat
On Food and Guilt
On Food and Judgement
Eat Mindfully
From Inspiration to Recipe
On Food and Money

And more!

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. This totally resonates with me and is definitely the mindset that I’m moving towards . It’s not always easy given the fact that I have such an emotional relationship with food but it’s definitely a much healthier way to think. Great post, as always!

    1. Agreed, Kathryn – it is definitely tough! I still struggle with it, as well as the emotional part (we’re hoping to post about that soon too!). Thanks for sharing! It’s so good to know we’re not alone.

  2. This is definitely one of the best mindsets to have about food. Labeling food as “good” or “bad” does nothing but lead us down a path of polarization. Everything in moderation, while harder to digest as a mantra, leaves that good vs bad mindset behind and lets you eat more intuitively by allowing your body to guide food choices. It’s tricky sometimes, but I definitely think it’s a great lifestyle choice!

    1. Thanks, Anna! I agree – the more I focused on “bad” or “off-limits” food in the past, the more I wanted to eat it. We know it’s not a “cure-all” and there are also hard things about moderation, but it’s certainly worked better for us!

  3. I completely agree; and I say this after eating 2 homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Ten or so years ago those cookies would have thrown me “off the wagon” and I would have slid into a binge. For many years, starting at age 13, I was living on a binge/starve cycle, which was unhealthy both physically and mentally. At some point I started to look at food as *health-supporting* rather than *fat-making. * Currently, if I have to buy a packaged food item, I read the ingredients list rather than the calorie and fat box. Another major change was *adding* food into my diet: such as adding spinach to an egg sandwich, chia seeds to yogurt, two or more veggies to my pizza. As a result of meeting my nutritional needs, my body has settled into a consistent weight — about 5 pounds heavier than my starvation mode weight — and I rarely have cravings. It is kind of a miracle to me and I so regret putting my younger self through the wringer! Oh, and I also agree about the addictiveness of home-cooked natural foods. I am not a great cook, but I often would rather eat rice and beans at home than go out to a restaurant…

    1. Amy, thank you for sharing so honestly and openly about these struggles! Amazing that this mindset of health-supporting foods has been so restorative to your health. I’ve done some reading on the subject and it is interesting the way our minds can take our eating choices to such a restrictive, fear-based place (and I’ve been there too). Thank you for sharing your success and freedom in this area! So encouraging. {And yes, rice and beans any day for me too :) }

    1. Wholeheartedly agree! It’s like a whole new rainbow of flavors opens up to your tastebuds (slightly cheesy sounding, but that’s the only way I can describe it!) :)

    2. You are so right. I’ve stopped eating meat a few months ago and know if someone says let’s get a cheeseburger from McDonalds I just think gross! And I used to love those. Same thing with soda. Although it was harder to wean myself off of that. But once you start eating healthier and stark cooking (in my case I cook vegan now once a week and can’t get enough of it) you don’t crave processed food anymore. Or at least not very often.

  4. I can’t agree more! I take so much pleasure in eating (and not only sweets!) that I couldn’t anyway restrain me from eating some kinds of foods only because it’s not labelled as “perfectly healthy”. But I know for sure that I can’t eat only cookies and ice cream ;) I try not to buy processed biscuits so that I am not tempted too often (you know how it works, eating a whole box of cookies when watching a film…) and instead I bake cakes from time to time. I sometimes try “healthy” ones with fruits and unrefined sugar, and sometimes I go for the classical and decadent ones, with lots of butter and chocolate! But the effort I put into it has two consequences :

    – since it is a lot of work to bake a cake (and lots of dishes…), I don’t do it often. Especially when it comes to my mind that this is “unnecessary” food, that means that I can’t make a meal out of sweets. So I’m sometimes bored by the idea of spending so much time on cookies that will be gone so fast. Yes, I’m a lazy girl when it comes to baking (not a bad thing, uh?). I used to love it as a child since it was actually the only thing I was cooking, but now that I’m a grown up and have to cook every single of my meals, I give priority to them! And I put all my creativity in it instead of thinking about decadent cakes!

    – I enjoy much more the sweets I baked. Because they taste better than store bought obiously, because I know what I put inside, and again because of all the effort I put into it. It’s so easy to buy a box of cookies and eating them straight. But when baking them, I want them to last a bit! (Well, parties excepted, because that’s the purpose of it right? Baking cakes and eating them in one day with your friends)

    So, this results in sweet in moderation. And I’m not a bit fan of very creamy cakes anyways. Cupcakes with a ton of cream chesse frosting? No, thanks!

    As for meat, I am not a vegetarian, because I like meat in some dishes, but I can live without it for a long time. I eat some from time to timebecause my friends and my flatmate aren’t flexitarians. But When I cook for myself, I think I can say that it’s pretty healthy and balanced, and I like it this way. I’m not thinking that I have to cook healthy, I cook what I like to eat and I don’t fell forced to eat the way I do. I don’t feel like I’m on a diet, but it’s true that when I go to the restaurant, I try to think a bit about moderation. Of course, I’ll order a big (non vegetarian) burger sometimes, because that’s something I won’t eat at home. Of course I’ll indulge on a chocolate fondant with crème chantilly and vanilla ice cream, but that’s once in a while right? And I’ll try not to combine the two of them, the burger AND the fondant (my stomach can’t take it anyway!)

    And as you do, I buy organic, local and whole food as much as I can, but I don’t blame myself when I don’t. That’s not always possible anyway (think cocoa, coconut milk/oil/etc, spices, and all the stuff you can only grow in tropical countries) Well, all this talk to say that I hardly ever feel guilty about what I ate, that’s all about balance anyway. My weight is consistent, though I NEVER count the calories of my meals. And I’m not doing a lot of sport so it’s not as if this helped me balancing my weight!

  5. I love this! I share a very similar philosophy for my own food and it works well. It’s funny how once you get in to cooking and eating whole natural foods anything else just doesn’t feel “worth it.” If I’m going to eat it, it needs to be super delicious!

  6. Such a great point! Anytime deprivation is involved, binging will likely result. For me, eating healthy was always eating perfect (NEVER anything white – bread, tortillas, rice, etc). Because that’s what the experts say. But guess what? At least once or twice a week, we would get fatty, salty, carb/overload meals – because our bodies knew what we really wanted (I’m talking about the whole family). Now? I cook like your guys do! I allow myself to have white bread, white tortillas, etc, along with tons of veggies. And guess what? No more eating out like crazy, or binging on food that we feel is “off limits” at home. We feel better, and I think we’re healthier for it. And I love that you linked to Michael Pollan’s book. I’m reading In Defense of Food right now, and loving it. Better to feed yourself the food you love at home (minimally processed), than follow purely the nutritional advice of experts (nutritionism), only to feel deprived and binge on fast food or ice cream.