We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!
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 three 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 our list. 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.
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.
Keep reading to learn how satisfy your sweet tooth and stay on track.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serving: Four cookies, made from refrigerated cookie dough
312 calories, 24.8 grams of fat (14 grams of saturated fat), 340 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbs, 40 grams of sugar
One of the top calorie sources in the American diet is grain-based dessert — like cake, cookies, and pie, says Salge Blake. And while one or two cookies won't ruin anyone’s diet, most of us don’t stop there — and then we do it again the next day. But this sweet treat's a real sugar-shocker; women should consume just 24 grams (six teaspoons) of sugar per day, and four cookies almost double that. That means you'll have to cut back elsewhere — whether it's in your morning cup of joe or even a glass of fruit juice. Another tip? Give your willpower a break and bake only a few at a time.
Serving: 1/2 cup (1/4 pint) of vanilla ice cream
260 calories, 14 grams of fat (8 grams of saturated fat), 70 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbs, 28 grams of sugar
The saturated fat content of ice cream is high, so you need to watch your intake of all saturated fat — including protein and other sources — when you choose ice cream as your indulgence. A high saturated-fat intake increases your (bad) LDL cholesterol levels, which then increases risk of heart disease, says Krieger. Salge Blake's tip for stretching a pint of ice cream to feed four people: "Add fruit to half-cup servings. You'll be dishing up something that looks a lot more generous and satisfying." If you want, add chocolate or crumbled-up cookies to the mix.
Serving: One chocolate doughnut
380 calories, 25 grams of fat (11 grams of saturated fat), 410 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbs, 17 grams of sugar
If a doughnut is your idea of breakfast, take a look at the carbohydrates and sugar here: this is a treat, not a healthy way to start your day. "Too much sugar on an empty stomach can cause stomach upset and a quick drop in energy after the initial sugar surge," says Krieger. "This leads to cravings or increased hunger." Another problem? Refined carbs are low in fiber, which means they don't make you feel full. So treat doughnuts as what they are — dessert — and indulge sparingly.
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