Can You Indulge Every Now and Then?

  • by Laura S.
  • 28 November 2017

Can You Indulge Every Now and Then?

On the journey to better health, we are often our own worst critics. We become convinced that we can only eat certain foods, and eating anything else is shameful. We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves! Maintaining a healthy diet is a life choice that is supposed to make us feel good, not ashamed.

Can You Indulge Every Now and Then?

The answer is yes! While eating healthy is extremely important, being overly strict about your diet can be counterproductive. If you’re relentlessly ignoring that craving for your favorite food, eventually that desire will be harder and harder to control. Why not indulge yourself once in a while? The best way to indulge without overindulging is to PLAN for it. If you know that you’re going to have a treat at the end of the week, it’ll be easier to stay focused on your healthy diet plan until then. If you’re not satisfying any of your cravings, you’re more likely to give in, binge eat, and feel dissatisfied anyway. Worse, you could eventually give up on your healthy diet goals completely.

Eating healthy is a lifestyle and it’s all about balance. Some days will be healthier than others, and that’s okay. Indulging doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it’s a natural part of human life. Plus, you deserve to treat yourself now and then! If you keep yourself to a strict, tiresome eating regimen, it’s unlikely that you will be able to maintain that lifestyle long-term. Studies show that results from short-term diet plans are not likely to last.1

How to Indulge Without Gaining Weight

Working indulgence into your diet plan is key. Don’t let guilt convince your brain to forget what you’ve eaten. Accept that occasional treats are essential to maintain your diet, and you will feel less guilty about it. You should always be mindful of what you put into your body. When you’re consciously aware and accepting of your indulgences, you’re more likely to make up for it later. As we said earlier, it’s all about the balance.

Indulge Without Guilt

There are certain foods that have been regarded as “forbidden” but contain plenty of health benefits if you consume them in moderation. Here are 4 foods that you can indulge in without guilt:

  1. Dark Chocolate

    Some chocolates are good for you! Dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa (or higher) has little sugar and lots of polyphenols—plant-based micronutrients packed with antioxidants that benefit good gut bacteria and your overall health.

  2. Red Wine

    After a long day, go ahead and pour yourself a glass of red wine with your dinner. Like chocolate, red wine is also loaded with antioxidants like polyphenols, resveratrol, and quercetin which are known to improve gut health, cholesterol, blood sugar, and immunity.

  3. Nuts

    Nuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Don’t be afraid to snack on pecans, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc. Just don’t buy ones that are covered in sugar and artificial ingredients.

  4. Fruits

    Yes, fruits contain natural sugars, so it is important to be mindful of the serving size and to avoid fruit juices. However, whole fruits contain important vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and fiber. They do wonders for your gut health!

Make Sure Your Gut Is Balanced

Interestingly, gut health can influence what kinds of foods we crave. Each diverse species of bacteria in your microbiome craves certain nutrients. In an imbalanced gut, these microbes release chemicals that can manipulate nerve signals from the gut to the brain, prompting unhealthy cravings that we normally wouldn’t have.

Your indulgences should be your own choice, not a manipulation by your imbalanced gut. If bacteria are giving you junk food cravings, restore your gut health with a quality probiotic and eating fermented foods instead. A few probiotic foods you might like are sauerkraut, yogurt, or kefir. Your gut and your body will thank you!

1 Mann, T. Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again. New York, NY: Harper Wave; 2015.

About the Author

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, Laura is a writer with a passion for health and wellness. She studied literature as well as health and nutrition at the George Washington University. When she’s not working, you can find her playing guitar, drawing, or trying new restaurants in the city.

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