Can you love what you eat when dieting?
By: Lara Stevens
It seems almost every other person you know is on some sort of diet. It’s not just in your mind. According to the
International Food Information Council, there is a significant rise in specific diets among Americans. Around 52% of
those surveyed reported following a diet or eating pattern, most commonly to protect their long-term health and to
When discussing diets, one of the first things that come to mind is restrictions and deprivations. “I can’t, I’m on a diet”;
is not only frequently heard but most often expected. But, do you have to give up foods you like in order to be
healthy? Or can you eat what you love as part of a balanced diet?
What is a Healthy Diet?
A healthy eating plan is one that stays within your calorie needs, includes a variety of healthy foods, and is low in
added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. It also emphasizes balance and includes eating even comfort food as long
as it is balanced with healthy foods and exercise. Many weight loss programs aimed at healthy eating often not only
promote so-called good foods, such as fruit and vegetables but crucially, they don’t stop you from eating your favorite
treats. Here’s how that works in real terms.
How Can You Keep Eating Your Favorites?
Emphasize healthy options
Healthy eating means consuming a variety of food items offering the nutrients that the body needs. These include
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and a variety of protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs,
or soy products. Focus on getting these as regular parts of your diet, so you can ensure first that you always get the
nourishment you need.
When you do get to eat your favorite food, the key is moderation. Try to eat them less often, and if you do, go for
reduced portion sizes. This way, even if they are high in fat, sugar, or calories, you have a lower risk of these
affecting your weight or health than if you consumed them regularly.
Practice mindful eating
Eating is nourishing yourself, which should be part of your wellness and fitness regime and should be thought of as
an important process. Try to avoid skipping or rushing meals, as this can make you less mindful of your food choices
and your satiety cues. Set a time to sit down and have meals, savor your food and do not rush, so you have time to
enjoy your favorite food and feel less craving for it next time.
Don’t think of your favorite as something that is bad or off-limits. The more you think of certain foods as off-limits, the
greater of a temptation that food may become. It is natural to want something when you feel deprived of it, and then
feel guilty when you do give in and eat. This causes a negative emotion with eating that can make dieting feel harder
to sustain. Instead, see them as treats that must be enjoyed.
If weight loss is a goal, you must eat less than what you burn. So, as you adjust your food portion sizes, you should
also adjust your activity level in order to ensure that your body has everything it needs and can burn off the excess, if
any. Try to incorporate physical activity into a regular routine instead of having drastic workout changes. This would
make exercising more sustainable and help you feel better in control of both your routine and your diet goals.
Drink lots of water
Water is essential not only for the body’s functions but also helps in sustaining a healthy diet. Drinking more water
can suppress appetite and keep cravings at bay. Additionally, more water intake has been associated to decreased
caloric intake and increased metabolism, thus helping more with weight loss.
It is possible to manage your weight and health goals while still enjoying the foods you love. It just comes down to
balance and mindfulness. Being able to eat your favorite foods and having a healthier relationship with food can
make your healthy diet more enjoyable and more sustainable and effective.
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