Friday, June 19, 2009

Being Too Strict Is A Sure Way To Fail On Your Diet

Human-beings are interesting. They aren't good with extremes. Heat and cold are an example. Get much below 70 degrees and humans are "freezing". Get much about 80 degrees and humans are "burning up". Same goes with our diet. Eat too much junk and we get overweight. Eat too little junk and we feel deprived.

The latter will lead to the former. If you are so strict on your diet that you never allow yourself the occasional guilty pleasure, then you will end up going to the other extreme and over indulging on bad foods. This was my biggest problem with the Atkins Diet. After the induction portion of the diet you were so starved for empty carbs that most people would fail on the diet. You just can't be so strict without eventually swinging back the other direction with a vengeance.

One of the most successful diets I was ever on was the one meal diet. I would eat a bowl of cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. Another for lunch, then at dinner I'd eat anything I wanted including dessert. I wouldn't snack between these meals, and I lost 20 pounds over the course of a month doing that.

Another was the weekend splurge diet. I would eat very healthy and limited portions throughout the week Monday-Friday. Then on Saturday and Sunday I would eat whatever I wanted (within reason). I was very successful on that as well. The problem with those diets though was eventually you'd want to be bad on at lunch or on Wednesday, then you'd have to try to be good at dinner or on the weekend. It just didn't work for longer than 2-3 months.

Obviously, with this blog, I advocate a healthy diet. Lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains. More fish, chicken, turkey and wild game, less farm raised beef. Etc. But I also advocate rewarding yourself occasionally. Taking a night off every couple of weeks and just enjoying foods you don't normally enjoy.

What kind of life would it be not to have cake, cookies, ice-cream, pudding, fried foods, hamburgers, hotdogs, or other foods like that? How can you go without a fast food meal occasionally, or french fries and onion rings? I can't imagine never again having a traditional pepperoni pizza.

All things in moderation, as the saying goes. So I say occasionally eat donuts, or elephant ears. Just don't over do it. Even my doctor said this. He told me: "I am not saying you can't eat what you want on a Friday or Saturday night, but the next day you are back on the healthy diet." Dr. Atkins also argued for treating yourself in his book. He talked about occasionally having that piece of birthday cake.

The key is to not allow the occasional treat to explode into an onslaught of bad eating habits. That is what we are discussing here is habits. Your habit should be the healthy things I listed above. The treat should be the occasional ice-cream cone or batch of chocolate chip cookies.

The key to this is what you keep around and available. If you are in the "habit" of keeping sugary treats around your house then you are going to develop a habit of eating them. The trick is to keep fruits and vegetables around so that the occasional trip to the ice-cream parlor, or the birthday party becomes the occasional treat that it should be.

So let them eat cake I say! Just limit it to once or twice a month.

1 comment:

  1. Life without cheese pizza? Perish the thought! Seriously, though, you are absolutely right: Everything in moderation. The occasional slice of cake isn't going to hurt--unless you're doing it every day.

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