On a diet? Eat a cookie

Yes, you should eat a cookie. Or a piece of chocolate. Or a few Red Vines.

Here’s why: new research reveals that dieters who view negative messages about sugary snacks are more likely to eat MORE of said demonized foods. Read more here.

These findings make perfect sense. The desire for what we’re told we can’t have is the basis for many a love affair, great war, and, internal food struggle. Keep telling yourself: I can’t have that Kit-Kat! I can’t have bread! Hide the Nutella! Stay away from the vending machine! Sugar, flour, chocolate, carbs – bad, bad, bad, bad!!!

The problem is, now all these delicious items are swimming around in your head, taunting you – you look up from your chicken salad and standing before you is a gigantic chocolate chip cookie. You wearily stand up to take a bite, only to find you’re actually chomping on a co-worker. OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but when you inevitably “give in” to these “forbidden” temptations, all hell breaks loose.

If you are indeed following some sort of meal plan for weight loss (I loathe the word “diet”), sustainability will be crucial to its success. Just as hearing entirely negative messages about sugary snacks from an outside source can influence you to eat more of them, falling prey to a similarly destructive inner dialogue will do you no favors. Americans are advised to limit their sugar consumption and may be attempting to follow the latest Dietary Guidelines, but a sweet treat can still fit into your meal plan. Just be smart about it:

Choose wisely

Treat yourself to something you absolutely love. Don’t waste your discretionary caloric/sugar intake on something you feel “meh” about.

Savor every bite

Don’t rush a good thing. Close your eyes, put your treat down between bites, and use your sense of sight and smell to enhance taste. Minimize distractions by putting down the phone, turning off the TV, and tuning into your sensory experience. This should go for all meals – not just dessert!

Exercise portion control

If you love chocolate chip cookies, bake up a batch and freeze them individually. Singly-wrapped squares of luxury-brand chocolate can be enjoyed one at a time. Love ice cream? Opt for a frozen yogurt, and beware that a serving is half a cup – not a pint!

At the end of the day, ALL foods can fit – some in larger quantity than others.

Enjoy your food, enjoy your life, and STAY VIBRANT!

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