How to Have Your Treats and Lose Weight, Too

woman with treatYou’re working on weight loss, and that means eating the right amounts, at the right times, of the right foods—and usually, it means cleaning up your diet act by avoiding junk food and treats.

But you really don’t need to eat “perfectly” to be successful with your weight loss goals. Here are some strategies for indulging in your favorites while staying healthy and losing weight.

Clarify Your Cravings. If you’re leaving a basically unhealthy diet behind you on your weight loss journey, it’s a good idea to try to understand your cravings before deciding to give in to them or not. Deciding to get fit and trim is about creating a new lifestyle, not just a list of “good” and “bad” foods. Pay attention to your feelings about food to learn the difference between wanting a holiday cookie at Grandma’s house and eating a bag of chips because you’re bored and alone.

Plan On It. When you intentionally plan to indulge in foods that you love as part of your diet plan, you can turn a treat into a healthy trick. Taco Tuesday can be elevated by grilled shrimp, and a big breakfast on the weekend might include high-protein pancakes with fresh fruit. if you include indulgences in your menu planning, you can shop for best ingredients and leave time for cooking, too.

Think Treat, Not Cheat. Many people allow for “cheat” days and then veer so far off track with their eating all day they have trouble getting back on board the next day due to cravings or even guilty feelings. To avoid spiraling after a whole cheat day, try adding an occasional treat to an otherwise healthy meal, like a slice of crusty bread and butter with your big salad.

Go 80/20. For lasting weight loss, you want to maintain good food habits for life. But that’s unlikely if you always deny yourself—it’s tough sticking with a diet plan if you’re unsatisfied! When you balance the freedom to indulge at about 20% of your meals, the majority of your food intake will still be focused on food that helps you reach your goals and stay there. 20% can be 20% of your plate, your day, or your week. Choose the balance that works for you.

Go All the Way. When you’re working on weight loss, you’re taking good care of yourself because you’re worth it, and that should include choosing quality for your health and fitness habits. There’s value to the right running shoes for your feet, or a trainer who helps you get to the next level. Now apply that value to what you eat., both your diet plan foods and your occasional indulgences. Is sugar-free cheesecake really worth it? If you’re out for a birthday dinner, it’s a good time to eat what you really want…and appreciate every bite!

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