Step 6 on my list of things to a happier, healthier life involves being a realist when it comes to dieting.
I absolutely think that if someone is looking to lose weight, they should be as absolutely strict as possible. Every single little indulgence can either slow your momentum or completely derail your efforts.
On the other hand, if you are an individual who lives a healthy lifestyle, maintains a healthy weight, and is physically active more days than not (I am one of these people), then I say have some 'junk' food every now and again.
I remember a while back when I heard Tony Horton mention his 90/10 plan. I have heard other health and fitness 'experts' use similar numbers, although I would even go as far as to say use an 80/20 plan.
What this means is that 80-90% of the time, you want to absolutely nail your diet. 80-90% of your daily/weekly/monthly calories should come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats. The other 10-20% of your calories can be for junk foods. This is important to me for a few reasons.
First, having little treats here and there reminds me how important it is for the rest of my diet to be as clean and healthy as possible. If I was to have an entire 'junk day', I would physically feel like crap that day and probably the next as well. Whereas if I just have small treats here and there, they are essentially lost in the shuffle of eating so well for the rest of the day.
Secondly, by allowing myself to some junk food here and there, I never feel like I am deprived of certain foods that I love and therefore need to go on a bender because I crave them so badly. I am a sucker for homemade cookies, for example. Every once in a while, my wife will make a batch of cookies, but I always ask her to make half a batch. This way, we both enjoy a few cookies, but I would rather us share a half batch than to devour and entire batch of cookies between us!
Thirdly, let's face the facts here. There are times in life when you are in a situation of indulgence. Maybe there is cake at work for a coworkers birthday. Or maybe you have a big family and celebrate every birthday together with some sort of dessert (I do!). In these instances, I never want to feel like I have an elitist personality because I turn down dessert while others are scarfing down. No, I rarely ever care about what others think of me, but I also don't want to seem like I am sticking my nose up in the air because I have chose to skip dessert.
At the end of the day, I like to remember that there are many things to enjoy in life. Maybe your indulgence is a few glasses of wine after a hard week, or going to the local baker on Saturday morning for a fresh pastry. These little things are what makes life worth living at times. We are a very food-influenced species, we love our foods/treats. There is no reason why you can't indulge, just make sure you have your life under control and are being 'good' 90% of the time! Those little treats will keep you smiling!
"It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want."
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
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