Most of us have learned it the hard way. As much as we may hate to admit it, no matter how many hours we log on the treadmill or elliptical, we simply won’t shed those excess pounds without adjusting our eating habits. An exercise regimen can’t – and won’t, believe us – do its job unless you supplement it with a healthy diet.
But that being said, it’s time to clear up some common yet problematic black-and-white thinking about what it really means to adopt a “healthy diet.” Because let’s face it: Cutting “bad foods” out of your diet entirely is a nice concept in theory, but it tends to backfire in practice.
Now, it’s certainly true that not all food is created equal, which is why balance and moderation are key. Do we suggest gorging yourself on a family-sized bag of greasy potato chips every day for lunch, or wolfing down half a rich chocolate cake for most dinners? Nah. Do we suggest enjoying a handful of potato chips alongside your sandwich and fruit a few times a week, or savoring a slice of that chocolate cake after your healthy dinner of lean protein and sautéed veggies? Absolutely.
Here’s why: Completely depriving yourself of those fat-filled greasy potato chips or rich chocolate cake can actually make you gain weight. While this seems to defy logic, think of it in terms of physics. Every action requires an equal and opposite reaction, right? The pendulum will always swing back to the other extreme; the more you deprive, the more you will binge to compensate. Since you haven’t been allowing yourself to consume anything conventionally “tasty,” thoughts of doing so will probably consume you until you finally snap under the strain of your diet – and go WAY overboard in the other direction.
It might seem like magic, but indulging in small amounts of your favorite “unhealthy” foods every once in a while might actually help your weight loss plan in the long run – by preventing those feelings of deprivation from turning into enormous, pound-packing binges. So next time you need a little exercise motivation, it’s ok to break off a square of that dark chocolate bar hiding in the back corner of your cabinet.
Just don’t scarf down the whole thing.