When it comes to food, do you try and stick to a rigid plan or do you allow yourself treats?
If so, how much should you treat yourself?
How often should you treat?
When it comes to food and weight management, including an occasional treat meal can make the difference between overall diet compliance and “falling off the wagon”.
Why you should treat and not cheat
I use the word “treat” rather than “cheat” for a very specific reason: these meals (or drinks) are used to allow you to indulge occasionally, to go out for a meal, to celebrate or just enjoy for no particular reason. “Cheat” implies doing something wrong, when the opposite is true when treat meals are used effectively.
Very few people will stick to a strict diet plan 100% of the time, it’s just not in our nature.
How much to have?
When it comes to treat meals, it’s not an all out feeding frenzy, rather about having a bit of something you really enjoy and savouring it. For example, if your treat is chocolate, cheese and biscuits, or a glass of wine, have one, maybe two and really enjoy the experience. Take your time, select your treat carefully. Look at it: the colour, texture etc, smell it – scent is a large part of satisfaction and then consume slowly and consciously.
If it’s a meal you chose to have, again take your time to get the maximum enjoyment.
You may also notice that the first few mouthfuls are the best, and after that the enjoyment drops off.
The key is to chose one thing as your treat, rather than say: a meal, couple of drinks and desert.
How often should I treat?
That depends on individual dietary goals, but generally speaking once a week is a common recommendation.
That’s one meal a week, not a whole day.
If you prefer to have an “off day”, this will require some planning so that you don’t blow out and undo your normal day to day diet.
What’s your go to treat?
You may have a few things you like to chose from. A glass of wine, a special desert or meal.
ugh! I feel horrible
How do you feel after your treat? If your favourite meal is leaving you feeling sluggish and bloated you may wonder if it’s really worth it. Often when we start to eat a cleaner diet, the food we indulged in before isn’t quite so appealing or easily digested.
Variety is key
Another reason to treat, is to vary daily food intake. If we learn to listen to our bodies, we naturally have days where we eat more and days we eat less. By occasionally eating more it can help trigger the body to keep metabolising rather than going into starvation mode.
Note: when I say “eating more”, I mean an extra 200 calories or so.
So the next time you reach for your favourite tipple, chocolate or chips, remember it’s OK to treat yourself. As long as it’s a controlled quantity, frequency and the best quality you can afford.
And it wouldn’t be a post from me without mentioning exercise and the importance of incorporating movement into every day. Take the stairs, walk to the bus stop, walk and talk your next business meeting.