You CAN Eat Chocolate – And Still Be Healthy
Think for a moment about the last time you indulged in a food you knew you “shouldn’t.”
How did you feel?
At first, chances are you felt pretty great. Wonderful in fact. Your taste buds were in heaven and you immediately felt less stressed and happier.
Food really can have this effect on you as it causes the release of particular neurotransmitters in the brain (serotonin and dopamine), which have powerful feel-good effects.
But shortly after you finished that food, the guilt set in. You felt like you “failed” your diet. You felt like any weight you have lost would come rushing back. You may have even felt like you should just quit trying – what’s the point?!
It’s time to get past those feelings. The fact is, any good diet is one that leaves enough wiggle room in your plan that you can indulge from time to time.
Here’s what to know:
Step Back And Look At The Big Picture
First, take a big step back from everything and look at the overall picture. Chances are, you are eating 5-6 times a day which means you’re taking in close to 40 meals a week.
Now, if one of those meals has a food that isn’t exactly the healthiest choice, this means you are eating right about 97.5% of the time. Do you really think that 2.5% time you don’t is going to make that big of a difference?
Provided you practice moderation, it’s not. Consistency is key, but 97.5% rates very highly in terms of being consistent.
Avoiding Food As A Reward
One thing you don’t want to be doing, however, is using food indulgence as a reward. Too many people approach this like if they are ‘good’ on their diet, they allow themselves something ‘bad’ on the weekend.
The problem here is that it still traps you in the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ thinking pattern and trains your mind to think of food as being something you get for doing something well.
Then, every time you do something well, you will want – you guessed it – more food. Instead, stop and give yourself permission to eat what you truly want. If you really are just craving a slice of pizza, know that you can have it. Sure, you can’t have it daily, but if you really truly want it, it’s yours.
Often, people will find that once they stop putting this food off limits, they actually crave it less. This is because as soon as you tell yourself you can’t have something, you begin to obsess over it. By taking away that “can’t have” stigma, you’ll see your cravings vanish.
It works the same way as telling a 4-year-old that they can’t play with a certain toy. They may have 20 toys nearby, but make no mistake about it, when you take away that one toy, that is the one they will want. The same often applies to food. Restrict yourself from it and it’s all you think about.
Striving For Balance
At the end of the day, what you must do is strive for balance. Remember that the biggest factor dictating your body weight is your total calorie balance.
So if you indulge in one meal and eat a few more calories than you should, no problem. In the next meal, cut back slightly. It’ll all balance out from there.
While you also need to be thinking about health as well (you obviously are not going to get as many nutrients from unhealthy foods you eat), when looking at things strictly from a fat loss point of view, it’s the energy balance equation that matters most.
So keep these points in mind. While you definitely want to take steps to help curb cravings and choose healthy most of the time, don’t let yourself come to believe that you can never eat foods you crave.
Take a more holistic approach to nutrition. Realize that a “treat” every now and then will help you stick with your diet. Enjoying yourself is definitely a good thing!