Instead of eating a strict diet of healthy foods and then depriving yourself of foods you have always enjoyed, new research points to the importance of enjoying a balanced diet.
When you deprive yourself of good-tasting foods, you may end up craving those foods, which can lead you to want to abandon your diet because you just can’t stick to it.
If you’re wondering how to enjoy a balanced diet and still lose weight, here are some tips to guide your eating decisions:
1. Follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the foods you eat are healthy, good-for-you foods, then it’s okay if 20% of the foods you eat are less healthy. What does this mean in practice? It means that you don’t have to strive to be a “perfect” eater all the time. It means that the goal in healthy weight loss isn’t to be this restrictive dieter who doesn’t allow a sugary treat to ever pass your lips. Instead, you can use the 80/20 rule to help you eat more healthfully and stay satisfied at the same time.
2. Practice moderation. Since the goal is weight loss, you want to focus on enjoying only a moderate portion of a favorite, higher calorie food. This is where those 100-calorie snack packs come into play. Or you can share a yummy dessert with others at the table. It means taking a small plate instead of a larger one especially for dessert type foods. It also means paying attention to your plate sizes at home. Studies have shown that if you eat off of smaller plates, you end up eating less than when eating off of larger plates.
(Tip continues below)
3. Spend wisely. It’s important to become aware of the calorie levels of some of your favorite treat-type foods. I call this being calorie conscious. And when you’re also aware of the low calorie levels of nutritious fruits and vegetables, you will better understand how to enjoy a balanced diet. Eating those lower calorie foods leaves some room for you to enjoy foods that may be more calorie-dense. A wrapped piece of dark chocolate or a small brownie can still be enjoyed when you’re a balanced eater.
4. Think long-term. Your weight and overall health are a result of numerous eating (and exercise) decisions that you make over weeks and months not just from a few hours. If you find that you’ve had a bad day of eating, a bad weekend or even a few weeks, this is not the time to throw in the towel and give up on your diet. Instead, remind yourself that you are in this for the long run and now’s the time to pick yourself back up and re-focus. Being able to do this is what can separate a successful weight loser from someone who keeps abandoning their program.