You’ve been practicing your new nutrition habits all week… and now your favorite sweet treat keeps calling to you.
You can see it oh so vividly in your mind’s eye. And maybe even literally with your face’s eyes too.
If you have the treat, does that mean you just “blew it” and destroyed everything you’ve been working towards?
And then as a result, should you feel guilty?
To both of these questions, probably not.
Just like the chocolate chips are only one factor that dictates how tasty a chocolate chip cookie is, the cookie (or another treat) is only one factor of how helpful or harmful a moment of culinary pleasure is to your goals.
What matters far more than whether you had a cookie today or a cookie every day is how in control you felt in the decision to have it.
Did you feel like you were the one choosing to have the cookie? Or did you feel controlled, like the cookie was telling you that you had no choice?
The answer to that is way more important than whether you had the treat or you didn’t.
Because when you feel that you’re the one calling the shots, you are then in a position where you can create the appropriate balance in your diet.
Moderation is critical for sustainable fitness and weight management, but you can’t have moderation if you feel like food is bossing you around.
When you are free from food’s control and feel totally in charge of your own food decisions, you can decide when to have a treat and when not to. You can enjoy it mindfully. And you can eat it with appropriate portions so that your calorie intake for the day is still appropriate for your goals.
No single treat can “undo” anything you do nutritionally. But feeling out of control can quickly turn a week that you would have lost weight into a weight of not losing anything (or gaining).
It’s not a bad thing (and is even a good thing) to make room for your favorite treat foods as part of your diet.
*Small “d” diet referring simply to the totality of what you eat.
What IS a problem, though, is to not make your treat foods PART of your diet, and instead have them ON TOP of your diet. You eat all the foods that you planned on eating and all that you need to become truly satisfied, and THEN overwhelming cravings strike and the dessert calories quickly add up.
And it’s a problem if you decide to respond to this by trying to become more “strict” with your diet.
Every time you go on a restrictive diet, you chip away at your feelings of control. You surrender your own decision-making privileges to “the plan”. And you give food even more powerful by reinforcing the narrative that it is in control of you.
You tell yourself that you CAN’T have something because the way that you behave with that thing is completely out of control.
This isn’t the solution to feeling like you can’t practice moderation with your eating habits, it’s a cause.
The more you believe that you don’t have control over your eating and have to avoid “bad” foods, the stronger the impulses to eat them will be.
The first step to making food no longer in control of you and to be able to enjoy your favorite treats in moderation is to commit to leaving restrictive dieting behind.
If restrictive dieting was going to work for you, wouldn’t it have worked by now?
It’s not always going to be easy to stay away from dieting. But it will be worth it.
If you want some help making it easier, check THIS out.