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How Often Can I "Cheat" on My Diet?



Cheat, treat, deviate, the wording of it rarely matters in my opinion. The reality is there are certain foods that promote health and weight management, and there are certain foods that if eaten excessively will start to take a toll on your health and weight. It's not dessert itself that gets in the way, it's the frequency and/or the portion size of dessert that gets in the way.


I'm not a huge fan of "good" or "bad" foods but there are certainly foods that promote health in the body and foods that don't. If I can be more blunt here, there are foods that promote disease, potentially shortening your time on earth. Rather than viewing processed foods as "bad", I prefer to view them as risky, because that's what they are. They are risky from a health and habitual standpoint. Here's why:


1) Health because they have a negative effect on the body if overdone, and

2) Habitual because they are easy to over eat. There's a reason we aren't binging on broccoli, but Christmas cookies...that's another story.


So any which way you choose to name it or think of it, we know that these foods need to be limited. We can't eat treats all the time and at the same time, it's not realistic to go your entire life without treats. Where's the balance? What's the right way to do this?


This depends on quite a few factors and may also differ based on the individual but as some general advice, I'd recommend having an experimenter's mind. Try out a few different strategies and see which one brings you the best results. Trial and error can be a beautiful tool if you are willing to dedicate yourself completely to a method and learn from your mistakes. If you're someone who feels your current level of self-control around risky or processed foods is really low, research shows there is a lot of benefit that comes from staying away from these foods completely for at least 4 weeks, then working towards integrating them back in.


Although the focus should always be on how to master healthy eating, I understand the importance of understanding how all foods fit into your life - it's an important piece of sustainability!






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