We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!Yes, you can have your cake (or pizza, or cheeseburger) and eat it too. But you need to learn what "moderation" really means. Here's how.
By Amy Ahlberg, Prevention
You already know that a too-strict eating plan can backfire, resulting in a blowout binge or, worse, throwing you off the wagon altogether. But when it comes to allowing yourself a little leeway, moderation is key. But what does "moderation" even mean? For gourmands, a cheeseburger a week might seem reasonable; for health nuts, maybe it's one every 3 months — minus the cheese and bun. To find out who's right, we turned to Sarah Krieger, RD, and Joan Salge Blake, RD, spokespeople for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For starters, they say you should only indulge in what you love — and skip the rest. If you don't have a weakness for fries, don't eat them just because they're there; and if you don't have a sweet tooth, don't have dessert simply because your dinner buddy does. "For me, I skip pizza and burgers, but I eat a great-tasting sweet treat every day," says Krieger. "I balance it with exercise and eating a variety of nutritious foods." For more tips, read on. But first, some ground rules:
Step one: If you're overweight or have health concerns — especially heart disease or diabetes—talk to your doctor. This advice is based on an average 2,000-calorie diet, consumed by American adults at a healthy weight.
Keep reading for more ground rules and salty splurges.
Step two: "Take a look at how active you really are. With most of our lifestyles, we don't need a lot of calories in order to maintain a stable weight," says Salge Blake. Go overboard too often and your waistline — not to mention your heart and your pancreas — may pay the price.
Step three: Keep a food diary and ask yourself, from a caloric standpoint: If I have this indulgence, what foods will I need to avoid this week to balance it out? Now read on for our tips on how to budget your binge allowance this week — and every week.
Serving: 4 slices of pork bacon
168 calories, 12.7 g fat (4.2 g sat. fat), 767 mg sodium, 0.5 g carbs, 0 g sugar
Who among us can resist the aroma of sizzling bacon? If this is your weekend vice, be sure to curtail your fat and sodium intake for the 6 days before and after. Bacon's saturated fat content is high, says Salge Blake, and just a few pieces make a major dent in the 20 grams most of us can afford to consume daily. So enjoy those crunchy strips—but enjoy them responsibly.
Serving: 1 restaurant cheeseburger with all the fixins
940 calories, 58 g fat (22 g sat. fat), 1700 mg sodium, 51 g carbs, 0 g sugar
With 22 grams of saturated fat, this doozy of a dietary indulgence maxes out your daily saturated-fat allowance in one fell swoop. "Heart disease develops over time, and when [you] eat a diet high in saturated fat, the risk for developing heart disease is greater," says Krieger. If you're determined to chow down on a cheeseburger, your protein choices should all be "lean and mean," according to Salge Blake — for the rest of the week.
Serving: Medium-sized fast food French fries
410 calories, 18 g fat (3 g sat. fat), 570 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 0 g sugar
You've probably been there: The first few fries taste heavenly. As your meal wears on, they start to look (and taste) less appealing—but you polish them off anyway. "With every subsequent bite, the pleasure diminishes," says Salge Blake. Easy solution? Get a small order instead and get a side salad to go with it. Because once potatoes are deep fried, we're sorry to say they don't really count as a vegetable anymore.
Flickr User cookbookman17