We all have our vices when it comes to eating healthy. Whether your primary temptation is salty foods, breads, fatty meat, or sugary sweets, the reality is that most foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet – in moderation.
Picture this: It’s early spring… you are starting to think about summer vacation… you’ve been making great progress on your health goals and will be ready for the beach, or that mountain hike. Then, you realize your favorite sweet treat just hit the market in mass. You can almost taste them just thinking about the last time you had them. A quick look at the box or an internet search reveals that each cookie has 50 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat. OK, so 1 cookie won’t be too bad. Then you remember eating a whole box in a day last year. You tell yourself, that’s not going to happen this time around!
So how can you allow yourself that craving while not derailing your health goals?
The good news is that there IS a way to indulge your favorites and stay on track. Actually, there are multiple ways! Consider the strategies below to see what will work for you:
- When you open your tasty treat, get out 1 serving then close the container and put it away before you start eating it. This will help prevent mindless eating and keep you within your planned indulgence.
- If your kryptonite is chips, cookies, nuts or something that can easily be placed in smaller containers, portion out servings into bags or bowls. Then, you can grab one on the run and still stay within your plan.
- Plan your indulgence. Have a birthday party tomorrow night and want to enjoy the cake? Keep your plan in mind as you make your food choices for breakfast, snacks and lunch. It will keep you on track and make that cake taste extra special!
- Think about what it “costs”. Maybe 3 cookies is only 150 calories. The cost at the store may be minimal, but what will it really cost? How much exercise will you need to do in order to offset those calories? If you decide it’s worth an extra 15 minutes of cardio, then go for it. Just don’t forget to do the workout!
- Don’t leave temptation out in the open. Put that cookie jar in the cabinet. You don’t need to be reminded of its yummy taste every time you refill your water bottle. Out of sight, out of mind, so tuck the treats away. Want something to put in that bowl on the table? Try fresh fruit!
- Divide and conquer. Share your treat with someone. You both get to enjoy the delight, but neither of you go overboard and blow your calorie budget.
- Freeze some for later. This may not work for everything, but many baked goods and casseroles can be frozen to eat later. Lasagna can be pretty tasty, but also high in calories. After you eat your meal, portion out individual servings, wrap well and freeze. Now you have multiple ready-to-heat meals, without having to eat the higher calorie food every night for a week. Many types of cookie dough can also be frozen. Only bake what you want to eat that day and save the rest for later. This prevents you from grabbing “just 1 more” and preserves the wonderful aroma of fresh baked cookies for the next time you decide to treat yourself.
- Look at the label. Yes, you know that a full sleeve of cookies is more than a single serving, but do you know how much more? Companies are smart enough to know that listing high calories per serving could make some consumers put the box back on the shelf. So, to keep their calorie count low, they may determine a serving is a single cookie! So, take a moment to do a little math and then make an educated choice about if, or how much to eat at that time.
- Brush your teeth, do a quick mouthwash rinse or grab a mint. Something about these activities seems to tell your brain that you are done eating. Besides, sweets don’t usually taste as good when your mouth is all minty.
- Don’t beat yourself up over it. Overcoming cravings and starting new habits is not easy. If you get off track with your plan, it’s not the end of your healthy eating journey! Just as a single healthy meal cannot solve all your health goals – neither will a single over-indulgence wreck them! Just renew your resolve and move forward from here.
Research has shown that there is no one method of weight loss or weight management that works for everyone; however, one thing they all have in common – when weight loss is the goal, reducing the calorie intake is the single most important factor. Likewise, maintenance of a low-calorie intake must then continue to prevent regaining the weight.
Making long-lasting changes to your eating habits can seem a daunting task if you are thinking you can never have chocolate again! Luckily, thanks to these strategies, you can help prevent the feeling of being deprived and stay on track with your goals.
So, don’t feel guilty about enjoying a food you love. You can maintain a healthy lifestyle and still treat yourself to your favorite indulgences from time to time. You are in control. With a little planning, you can take steps to make room in the calorie budget and prevent yourself from over-doing it and therefore, stay on track for your health goals.
Drayer, Lisa “Girl Scout cookies ranked nutritionally, and how to stop yourself” CNN March 14, 2017 https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/14/health/girl-scout-cookies-nutrition-food-drayer/index.html
Fisher, Charlotte, “The Best & Worst Girl Scout Cookies” Eating Well February 28, 2020 https://www.eatingwell.com/article/57766/the-best-worst-girl-scout-cookies/
“2022 Girl Scout Cookie Flavor Lineup & Nutrition Breakdown” January 12, 2022 https://cheatdaydesign.com/girl-scout-cookie-nutrition-guide/