The Problem with Labeling Foods Off Limits

April 14, 2014

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The first thing many people do when they start a diet is make a list of what they can’t eat: No carbs, no sweets, no chips, etc. While limiting these foods is important if you want to lose weight, labeling foods off limits can do more harm than good.

Why? Because if you ban a certain food from your diet completely, it will always be on your mind, especially if it’s something you really enjoy. There’s no shame in enjoying a piece of cake (if someone says they don’t, they’re probably lying). It’s only a problem if you eat the entire cake. If you completely eliminate cake from your diet, you may reach a tipping point where you binge because you’ve been ignoring the temptation for so long. Follow my tips to find out how you can have your cake and eat it too!

Wean yourself off slowly. Cutting one of your favorite foods or drinks out of your diet cold turkey is a recipe for disaster and relapse. If you are drinking five sodas a week, for example, start by reducing that number to three. Over time, you will find your cravings won’t be as strong, and you can eventually reduce the number to once a week or a couple times per month. It’s these small steps that lead to larger steps and a lifelong change in your current habits.

Lighten it up. Many recipes have healthier versions. Sour cream-based dips can be lightened up by using Greek yogurt, corn tortillas have half the amount of calories of flour tortillas, and using extra lean beef can cut your fat consumption in half.

Keep it out of the house. If you know you can’t resist chips and cookies, cross these items off your grocery list. If it’s not in the house, you can’t munch mindlessly while watching your favorite TV show. Save the indulgences for special occasions, like birthdays and holidays, as opposed to a nightly snack session.

Make a list of “cans”: Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, make a list of what you can. Put a list of healthy snacks on fridge. Fruit, Greek yogurt, and hummus and veggies are excellent examples. This way, when your stomach starts grumbling, you’ll have a list of weight loss friendly snacks right in front of your nose.

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