MuffinsCredit: Victor Hanacek

Are you someone who loves to bake, but is also trying to lose weight?  Are you worried that you will have to hang up your apron and sacrifice your love of baking for a thinner waist line?  If so, this article is for you.  Below are some strategies I developed with one of my health coaching clients so that she could enjoy baking without packing on extra pounds.

It all started when I was reviewing her food log and saw an entry for three pieces of biscotti, totaling 500 empty, sugar-laden calories!  This client is working toward a weight-loss goal, so I was concerned when I saw this.  When asked about it, she said that she was enjoying a relaxing day at home and wanted to try a biscotti recipe she had found.  She has a very demanding career, and baking is a stress-reliever for her that helps her to relax.

As a health coach working with busy women with stressful lifestyles, I am always encouraging them to take time for themselves and find ways to relax.  So, the last thing I ever want to do is discourage a client from engaging in this type of activity.  The problem is, her stress-relieving activity was becoming a weight-gaining activity, thanks to the kitchen full of delicious treats just waiting to be eaten.

How did we strike a balance between her love of baking and her goal of losing weight?  Below are strategies we devised together that have allowed her to continue baking and still lose weight.

Strategy 1:  Make Your Freezer Your Friend

Part of the trouble with baking is that you are left with delicious temptations that are out and readily available to eat.  This could be too much for even the most disciplined person to resist!  To remedy this, immediately freeze what you have baked in small, individual servings.  Freezing your baked goodies will allow you to still have a treat from time to time and enjoy the fruits of your labor, without eating too much.  Because you must take the time to thaw it, this treat requires a little planning, making it less likely for you to eat impulsively or fall victim to emotional eating.  Instead, it becomes a special treat that you can look forward to. 

The small, pre-measured portions will help you practice good portion control.  Plus, by freezing what you have baked, you will not feel the pressure of having to eat it all quickly before it goes bad.

While not everything lends itself to freezing, many things do.  Cookies, muffins, breads (like banana bread), some types of cake (like pound cake), biscotti, and scones are good examples of freezable baked goods.

A word of caution:  remember that your frozen goodies should be considered a special treat.  Do not be in the kitchen thawing this stuff out every night!

Strategy 2:  Share the Love

Nothing says love like baked goods, right?  Before you bake, tell someone that you will be giving them half (or more!) of that pound cake you are making.  By telling them ahead of time, you have made a commitment and someone will be expecting you to deliver.  This will prevent you from backing out on your plans to give it away after tasting how good it is.  Trust me on this.  I have baked with every intention of giving some of it away, but once it was out of the oven, my good intentions were out the window!

Note:  Please be considerate of your fellow weight-conscious friends, and only give the goods to people who are not struggling with their weight.

Strategy 3:  Make it a Social Event

Invite friends or family over to share in the delights of your baking.  Make it a casual affair, or host a swanky dessert party.  As an added bonus, if there happens to be anything left over, you can send it home with your guests!  Alternatively, you can volunteer to bring dessert to a dinner party (and leave behind the leftovers).  With this strategy you get to enjoy what you made, share it with people you care about while enjoying their company, and still keep your weight loss efforts on track.  It's a win-win!

Strategy 4:  Become Everyone's Favorite Co-worker

Take what you have baked to work and make it a happy day for your co-workers.  In my experience, home-baked goodies brought to an office will vanish almost instantly, so there should not be any lingering temptation for you.  Your colleagues will appreciate the unexpected treat, and maybe you will even score some "brownie points" (get it?!) with your boss.  (On the flip side, if your boss is also trying to lose weight, then this will not be a good strategy for your waist line or your career!)

Strategy 5:  Do Good With Your Baked Goods

Use your baking to support your community by:

  • Volunteering items for a bake sale at a local school
  • Making arrangements with a local nursing home to bring treats for its residents
  • Taking a plate of treats to your neighborhood fire department to show your appreciation for what they do, or brightening the day of a local nonprofit whose cause you care about.

Be creative with this one; I bet you can come up with lots of other ways to do good in your community via your baking.

After working together with my client to come up with these strategies, she was able to relieve her stress through baking without sabotaging her weight loss.  I hope they work for you as well.  Give them a try and let me know how it goes.  I would also love to hear any other strategies you have had success with!