When I’m coaching my clients, and when I’m considering my own nutrition, I like to keep things tasty and physique friendly. If you’ve be following me for any period of time you probably know that I have a pretty big sweet tooth and love a cockatil or two from time to time.
I am 100% positive that the reason I maintain my physique, keep my energy high and cravings down is because I allow myself treats in a mindful way- and my clients will tell you the same thing. It all comes down to mindfulness. When we eat mindfully, we get really good at knowing when we truly want to indulge and when we’re just eating for emotional reasons.
Back when I was a restricter and binger, I would have a craving for chocolate and instead of just eating a small bag of Cadubry Mini-Eggs (love!), I would go through an entire box of protein bars. Yes. Seriously. A whole box in one day. Over 1,000 calories later, I should have just had the 200 calorie bag of Mini-Eggs and moved on with my life, hindsight is, as they say, always 20/20, but I was convinced that candy was bad for me and I shouldn’t be eating it.
Now that I’ve moved into a more mindful and intuitive eating practice, I’ve gotten really good at picking and choosing when an indulgence is really worth it or not and I want to teach you to do the same. Why go through life stressing out over a few pieces of candy or having a couple slices of pizza when you can simply indulge a bit an move on? TBH, this is what I credit my personal 20 pound weight loss goal to. Being a little less perfect and a lot more consistent.
Use the mindfulness strategy
My number one strategy when it comes to incorporating treats into my diet is to think about how a certain food choice will affect me physically and emotionally and if the indulgence is truly worth it. For example if I’m going out to dinner, I won’t eat from the bread basket, then order a drink then an appetizer then my entrée and entertain the idea of dessert. Instead, I’ll think about what I really want and maybe pick one or two things to go along with my entrée. I think about what I really want which usually ends up being a a cocktail and/or an app, then order my entree and enjoy my dinner out.
I will say, though, this stuff takes some work. For a while you’ll have to say goodbye to the days of impulsive ordering and impulsive nutrition choices and start planning ahead and taking your time to get in tune with what you really want. This means looking at the menu online ahead of time and sticking to your guns when you get to the restaurant. This won’t be forever, though. You’ll only do this until choosing what makes you feel good and satisfied becomes a habit and you won’t be tempted by all the other choices.
When you get mindful about your choices, on the fly decisions will be a piece of cake. Once you get good at reminding yourself that you’ll feel bloated and sick if you eat mozzarella sticks and fries, there’s a really good chance you’ll pump the brakes and make a better nutritional choice without thinking twice.
How it all fits
So, you’ve decided to treat yourself, but how do you do that without derailing your healthy lifestyles and/or physique goals? It can be tough to know where to begin when you’re trying to learn how to incorporate treats into your lifestyle. For lots of us, allowing ourselves things like chocolate, pizza and candy is a foreign concept, especially if we’ve been on the dieting for years. So often those foods we love are on the “do not eat” list. The good news is, they don’t have to be. I’ve listed some popular treats below to show you how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle in a balanced way.
Nutrition is kind of like a puzzle but with some practice you’ll learn how to fit anything into your lifestyle without effecting your health or physique in a negative way. While adding treats into your diet does take a lot of thought and some planning at first, it will absolutely get easier the more you practice.
The first step in knowing how to incorporate treats is to consider what the food is made of: carbs, fat or protein? I’ve listed some of the most popular examples below based off of one serving of these treats and teach you how to incorporate the treat into your daily life.
Chocolate| Sweets | Pastries = carbs and sometimes fat (you’ll have to look at the label).
- Before or after you treat yo-self, take away the starch (and maybe fat depending on what your treat was) at your next meal and have your protein and veg.
Alcohol = carbs
- If you know ahead of time that you’ll be having some cocktails, drink extra water before and after your drinks. You can also decrease the amount of carbs you eat that day to account for the carbs in your cocktail.
- Try to stick to lighter versions of your favorite cocktails (light beer, vodka & soda water instead of tonic, rum & diet soda instead of regular, lime juice instead of sweet & sour mix, etc).
Bread | Pasta | Bagels= carbs
- Think of bread, pasta or bagel as a side to your meal instead of the main component. Remember to fill your plate with lean protein and veggies, then give yourself a piece of bread or a half cup of pasta and enjoy! If you end up having more than one serving of bread or pasta, just be more mindful about the starches you’re consuming throughout the rest of the day.
- Note: Carbs are NOT the enemy. Eat them, enjoy them, and love them. Just do it mindfully.
Ice Cream = fat and carbs
- Before or after some ice cream, limit starches at your next meal and, if the ice cream is full fat (because low fat ice cream is YUCK IMO) you can also limit the fat at your next meal.
Cheese = fat
- The next time you’re planning on having a good serving of fat, sub it out for more protein, veg or starch.
Chips | French fries = fat and starch
- Before or after you have some chips or fries, or if you’re having them with a meal, limit the starch and fat in those meals.
Wings = fat and protein
- Wings tend to be deep fried and covered in sauce that has lots of butter in it. At your next meal limit your fat and up your veggies.
Full-Fat Salad Dressings | Condiments
- Despite what you might have heard, full fat dressings and condiments are not “bad” for us and can actually help us absorb vitamins found in lots of veggies. However, we should still be pretty mindful about how much we consume. A couple tablespoons will do ya and don’t worry about making other adjustments throughout the day. Eat your veggies, get those nutrients in and enjoy!
I’ll be honest with you- sometimes it can feel SO MUCH EASIER to just say “screw it” and restrict yourself from these foods rather than doing all this thinking and planning. I’ll argue, though, that by doing so you’re setting yourself up for a big binge and big setback. When we restrict, restrict, restrict, once the willpower runs out we overeat that food like crazy and we’re right back to where we started. So that’s the challenge. Indulge a bit each day, knowing that it’s perfectly OK, knowing that you’re not “bad” or “off-track” but you’re simply enjoying the foods you love. There’s room for absolutely everything in your nutrition lifestyle. Anything from pizza to wine to a donut is a go. It’s simply a matter of mindfulness and balance, and with time and practice, that will be easy peasy lemon squeezy!
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