It’s something people rarely think about or consider when they’re trying to lose weight: indulging. Sure, you may consider it but it’s all “I’ve indulged too much so I must now deny myself of anything enjoyable.” This leads to real ‘die-ting’. Dieting is no fun; it’s all about denying yourself to the point where you feel as if you truly are dying. Diets don’t work because they’re often all about extremes rather than variety and at some point, you being human is going to lead to a breakdown where you’re going to be prone to indulging … and you’ll go overboard. You’ll indulge so much in your breakdown period that you’ll feel ashamed and you’ll probably quit the diet.
Don’t diet. Indulge a little. It’s advice that you probably don’t hear often but it works. You see, you don’t need a diet; if you want to lose weight, you need a change in lifestyle. You need to eat, and you need to eat all day. We’re talking 6 or so meals a day, a mix of the standard 3 meals with healthy snacks mixed in. You need to eat breakfast every morning, even if it’s just whole wheat toast and some tea; you need to practice portion control; you need to start reading labels and avoiding anything with ‘hydrogenated oil’ which should simply read as trans fat, ditch anything processed with enriched flour, limit your consumption of too much sugar and salt. These aren’t at all things that are ‘dieting’ it’s just a change in your eating habits. A healthy eating lifestyle is all about indulging! For example, you can eat all of the vegetables you want as long as they aren’t fried or breaded and really don’t have to worry about counting calories or consider fat. You can include some fats in your meals, including olive oils and nuts, because there are some good fats that include omega-3 fats (brain boosting, good for your heart). There are even recipes out there that strip the fat and calories from your favorite comfort foods like mac n’ cheese and chocolate chip cookies. But some people decide to turn away from food as their way of indulging. Apparently, cannabis is being used to great effect to help people lose weight. This is because those people often get high-quality cannabis from an ohio doctor who usually recommends cannabis as an alternative indulging agent. While this can be a great approach, it isn’t for everyone though. Most of us prefer our chocolate chip cookies instead of a joint but both can be effective when looking to create a balanced lifestyle to improve your health.
I’m not a fan of extremes in the context of food or dieting. There’s research out there that’s examined this whole idea of indulging. Those who deny themselves of certain foods while practicing some diet end up in a very bad position because they always indulge but end up going overboard when they do so. It doesn’t help you to deny yourself of something you’re craving and then suddenly you go overboard and ruin all of your hard work. That’s where many make their mistake. You also shouldn’t indulge everyday to the point where you’re working against yourself. They key is to indulge but to do so in a healthy manner. Craving a late night snack? Instead of gorging on Cheetos or chips, have some air-popped corn. Just stick some pop corn kernels in a brown back, nuke it in the microwave on high for a minute or so. No oil needed. Poof, you’ve indulged and haven’t blown your diet. Have a sweet tooth? Well, that bowl of ice cream isn’t going to do your hips and waistline any favors unless it’s vegan and dairy free, which doesn’t seem worth the effort. So always have fruit on hand – it’s sweet, a bowl can really fill you you up. An hour after dinner as I’m sitting down to indulge in some prime time television, instead of stuffing myself with cookies or cake I enjoy a nice, sweet fruit salad – strawberries, bananas, cantaloupe and some grapes or apples makes for a very fulfilling healthy snack. If you like milkshakes then switch to smoothies full of fruit, flax seeds and get a little crazy and experimental and blend in a little spinach and yogurt with it. You won’t taste the spinach but you’ll benefit from the added iron you’ll get from it.
Indulging is human; it’s easy and all about taking what you like and finding a way to treat yourself without going overboard. Here’s my advice on indulging while still losing or keeping the weight off:
1. Read the label. The reason so many people tend to get fat from snack foods is because no one reads the label. You need to look at the label for different reason. First, how much is one serving? You’d be surprised to find that the foods and drink you’re buying aren’t meant to be one serving. A small G2 Gatorade? It’s 4 servings! A pack of M&Ms is usually 2 servings, so half a bag. Chips are usually just 7-8 chips, not the entire bag. So after you’ve checked the serving size, look at everything else that label reveals about what you’re about to eat. How many calories and grams of fat does 1 serving have? Yeah, A LOT. Now multiply those numbers by the serving amount contained in the whole bag or carton. If you indulge too much and eat that whole bag in one setting, you’re eating 2 or 3 if not more times more than you’re supposed to! No wonder you’re having a problem shedding that fat.
2. Learn what not to eat. The labels reveal a lot about the food. Here’s a good rule of thumb with most snacks: if it has more than 3 ingredients or something you can’t pronounce or need a degree in chemistry to identify, you don’t really want to eat it. I know, that eliminate a lot of the yummy stuff but if you’re fixated on getting healthy, you need to stay away from overly processed foods. You don’t want anything with trans fats (that includes hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils), you don’t want saturated fat (usually a by-product of four-legged animals), no enriched flour (that means at one point it was pure and healthy and they stripped out everything good and you’re left with something that has the nutritional value of chalk or baby powder). If you want a potato chip, go for something baked. Nothing fried is good for you. It’s like eating something dipped in toilet water. Sound appetizing? Thought not.
3. Embrace ‘whole’ foods. There’s a way to snack all day without having to worry about counting calories or reading labels. Madonna once sang, “You can eat all you want and you won’t get fat; now where else can you go for a meal like that?” Easy – whole foods! Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. We’re talking vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole wheat. Check the label – what’s the first ingredient labeled? It should be something that’s grown in nature, not made up in a lab (ahem, high fructose corn syrup)! If the thought of eating raw veggies makes you ill, then just pair it with something like a vinaigrette (any salad dressing that contains vinegar is a good choice over the other creamy alternatives. Cream = fat). Always have fruits on stand by – an apple is awfully sweet and full of fiber if you keep the peel on. You can pair it (or even celery) with peanut butter. Speaking of peanut butter, did you know that if you’re craving chocolate it could mean your body is deficient in and actually craving magnesium? Peanut butter (all natural) is another healthy snack to keep in stock and close by.
4. Find an alternative to your favorite snack. It’s really simple; just as you’d find a short cut to a destination where the usual path is blocked or full of obstacles, you need to find alternative routes to your cravings. You can eat all of the foods you like and love if you find a different path to them. Like french fries? Try baking them instead of deep frying them. Want to go in a different direction all together? Try making your own sweet potato fries – they’re tasty and chocked full of minerals and vitamins. Like potato chips? Make your own. There are tons of recipes out there on how to easily make your own at home. The best part of making your own chips, or any snack food for that matter? You know what’s going in there and it’ll have fewer chemicals and fat. A lot of what goes into snack foods sold in grocery stores isn’t there because it’s needed; it’s there to make the food more addictive or to give the food a longer shelf life. So have your cake … just make it out of whole wheat flour and make your own frosting. Look for low-fat recipes or even vegan (dairy-less) options. You’ll really slash the calories and fat and will be able to enjoy your foods more. Check out sources like www.vegweb.com for tons of healthy recipes or cookbooks by cooks like Rocco Dispirito who came up with 150 comfort foods that are all under 350 calories in his latest book ‘Now Eat This‘.
5. Get busy doing something other than eating. This is a really simple trick to curb your appetite: when you crave something, pair it with activity other than eating. Huh? When do you eat or indulge too much? Is it when you’re watching television? Then when you’re watching t.v., busy your hands with lifting weights or doing pushups. Is it when you get in from work? Then the moment you get in, take a moment to regain your composure and then head out for a walk or jog. Busying your bad habit triggers with good habits will really change your life. You’ll start realizing you’ve been lazy and laziness leads to a lot of time wasted that could be devoted to self improvement. Also, indulge some cravings with healthier habits. Need to chew something? Instead of chewing on grease-filled chips and fries, chew on gum. I keep gum around and usually have a ‘chew break’ late at night when I used to sit around and gorge on junk food. It keeps my mouth busy and is comforting and keeps me from indulging in bad food and habits. Another secret in my ammo – peppermint mints. I keep starlight mints around like a little old lady and allot out a max of 3 per day. That’s just 80 calories and I usually don’t eat 3 in one day. But, if I’m craving something and need to find a quick fix, I pop a mint. Again, it keeps your mouth busy. If you’re into alcohol and need to cut back to spare the calories and carbs, then keep water or fruit juice nearby. So have your drink – it’s just not going to be the unhealthy one you’re used to.
Indulging is okay! If you don’t indulge from time to time, you’re going to either go crazy or you’re going to snap and regret the aftermath. The key is to find healthier ways to indulge your cravings. This idea can be applied to many areas of your life: money, celebrations, vacation, self-improvement. You can’t spend or waste your life with denials and abstaining: enjoy your life, find a way to enjoy each day and feed all of your little cravings. The great thing about indulging your cravings is that there’s rarely one option: there’s often times a healthier option that’s better suited for your needs.
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