Little Debbie – Friend or Foe?


Where it all started.

Pure and simple: sugar is evil. On December 5, I cracked. I bought a box (note: just one box) of Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes. See my Facebook status for proof. A little background here – I’m a sugar fiend and have been for a very long time. I typically indulge (the most) right before going to bed (probably the worst time, I know). Through the years I’ve gone between double-stuff Oreos (four at a time, cracked open, filling sides eaten first, plus a cold glass of milk), pop tarts (toasted, two, plus milk, I was especially fond of pop tarts when I was pregnant), peanut M&M’s (I’ve been known to take the whole bag into bed with me, I eat at least 20 at a time) and the clincher—Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.

Now, I should provide more context when it comes to Little Debbie’s. Back in the day, Mum was the master of stretching the budget (thanks Mum!). I practically grew up on generic brands, except when it came to Little Debbie’s. Given these delectable treats are also pretty economical, they typically frequented our back hall closet (the special place reserved for board games, cereal, snacks of all sorts, oh and shoes and coats).

Through the years I recall the following Little Debbie’s as a mainstay: Swiss Cake Rolls (by far, my favorite), Fudge Brownies, Star Crunches, Pecan Spinwheels, Nutty Bars, as well as the myriad “holiday” cake-type options that would appear from time to time, including the now infamous (at least during this past month for me) Christmas Tree Cakes. It’s funny, in doing a little research for this piece, I didn’t quite realize the extent of Little Debbie offerings. The editors at HuffPost Taste found themselves exploring the lesser-known varieties in this humorous piece.

Suffice it to say Little Debbie’s have been a staple throughout my life. We all know that too many Little Debbie’s is not a good thing. But just how many is too many? Well, that depends upon the person. My husband Ken can easily chomp just a few M&M’s and be wholly satisfied. I mentioned my 20 minimum above, so it’s probably no surprise when I explain how it’s never just been “one Little Debbie” for me. At minimum, I’m a two-pack in one-sitting kinda gal. Since in most cases that means four actual Little Debbie’s – that can add up quick – especially at about 200 calories EACH a pop!

When it comes to the Christmas Tree Cakes – in either the red velvet or plain variety – I started (like most people do) with that first scrumptious bite. I’ve been off of my Little Debbie habit for some time (actually it’s been several years now) and so that first bite was especially grand. Too bad it quickly escalates and then goes down hill from there! So, there’s five in a box. I started with one box. And I started with one Christmas Tree Cake.

The next night I had two – because I couldn’t just have one. When I initially bought my “one box” at Meijer, I thought – one box won’t hurt. Well. The next week I was at Ric’s and noticed the Little Debbie’s on sale two for five bucks. A sweet deal (literally)! So I bought a couple more. Then Meijer had an even better sale (lucky for me?) – THREE for five bucks that following week. And it grew from there.

The week before our holiday break, I came home with what was probably ten or so boxes (assorted). Ken saw the stash and said, “Stocking up are you?” I guess that’s what you could call it. The kids knew that “my” Little Debbie’s were off limits (just let Mommy eat the BAD sugar), although I did share with them a red velvet tree or two between December 5 and December 30 – the day I squashed the rest. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So for about a month straight, I would eat at least two Christmas Tree Cakes every night, sometimes more. You might find it especially amusing that while eating my xmas cakes, I was reading a book called, Spark, which is all about the benefits of exercise. Funny, I know. While I knew my growing habit is not good, in fact, it’s HORRIBLE – I justified it to myself by saying – oh, I’ll stop by Christmas day.

Christmas day came and went and I realized that my Little Debbie habit had really started to impact my life. All that extra sugar was causing me to feel fidgety, compulsive and my stomach pretty much doubled in size (typically my “problem” area). It was affecting my sleep too – I wasn’t sleeping well at night and then I would find myself falling into sugar-induced naps mid-afternoon during our break (that’s when I started eating them in the afternoon too). Something radical had to be done.

So I’m starting over with my love-hate relationship with those pesky Little Debbie’s that jump out and say “hello” each time I walk down the bread aisle at Meijer (they command a good third of the aisle mind you). While the kids watched in disbelief, I took out the remaining Little Debbie’s and STOMPED them flat. They were like – “Why did you do THAT, Mommy?” Actually, I felt pretty good about it – they see me donning some pretty questionable excessive sugar habits, but they also see me reeling things in, making a change, moving toward more of an “all in moderation” mindset.

Of course they know that lots of sugar isn’t good for them and as far as we can tell, at least one kid (Milah) isn’t going to be a sugar fiend like her Mommy (thank goodness). Still, I think it’s important to be straight up with the kids and let them know that this is something that Mommy struggles with. It’s a bad habit period. I explained to them why I stomped on my Little Debbie’s and they get it. Our informer, Maeve, told Daddy the second he woke up, “Mommy stepped on all the xmas trees!”

I explained to them why I stomped on my Little Debbie’s and they get it.


My Little Debbie saga.

Hallelujah, I did! And I’m already feeling better – it’s been three days since my “last” xmas cake. Amazing just how much a bad sugar habit affects your sleep! I hit up the gym yesterday and I’m thinking about my EAT SLEEP MOVE Challenge for the New Year. Making small changes in each of these categories – means moving toward a stronger whole overall! One of my scholars, Andy Derry, recently started a blog called Whole Life Living and writes about this very topic. His tips include: finding an “accountability partner,” setting modest goals (aka making small changes), getting right back into it (without judgement) if you falter and taking things one day at a time. Great advice!


Hitting up the Lunch Crunch at Seung-Ni Fit Club – great camaraderie and great energy!

Do you happen to have a “Little Debbie” habit – or a habit just like it? If so, consider signing on to the EAT SLEEP MOVE Challenge with me! Click HERE for the details – it’s a great way to kickstart the New Year. Here’s to less Little Debbie’s and more choices (aka small changes) that will lead to feeling good and strong in 2014 and beyond.

Happy New Year!