A good diet isn’t really a diet at all; it’s a lifestyle upgrade that is sustainable for the rest of your life. However, you could be expending effort, depriving yourself of the food you love — for no good reason at all. When you deprive yourself of everything you love, not only are you miserable; you’re also more likely to back out of your healthy living plans and fall back into bad habits.

The good news: Indulging isn’t bad for your diet; it’s an essential part of it!

Here’s some ideas on how to indulge in the foods you love without going overboard:

The real problem with indulging is binging. If you can keep your portions small, then a cookie or two won’t hurt you. If you’re eating out, remember that restaurants typically give portions three or four times a standard serving. Cut your dessert in half or even better – share it with your friend. Not only will you get to share the love with your companions; you won’t find yourself rapidly expanding.

When you’re bored, frustrated, or feeling depressed, it’s easy to eat half tub of ice cream before you even notice it’s gone. The answer is to this problem, is to simply not buy it in the first place. If it’s not there – you can’t eat it. Instead, keep some small, healthy snacks on hand like nuts, dried fruit, frozen fruits, coconut flakes, or yoghurt and leave the sugary and salty stuff at the grocery store, where it belongs.

If you can’t resist indulging in a sugary or salty snack, select foods with healthier ingredients. Replace your preservative-filled store-bought cookies with home-made cookies with organic ingredients. Alternatively, consider replacing some of your favorite indulgences. A few easy ways to do this:

  • Ditch the milk chocolate in favor of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
  • Forget about salty potato chips. Try salted cantaloupe or some olives instead.
  • Craving chocolate cake? Try a truffle instead.
  • Feeling like candy? Snack on some frozen raspberries and blueberries.
  • Replace white flour bagels, bread, and pasta with healthier full-wheat alternatives.
  • Don’t buy something just because it’s sugar or fat-free. These products sometimes use unhealthy substitutes, so be sure to check the ingredients list before you buy into manufacturer claims that a product is “healthy.”

Th good news is: eating a few thousand calories doesn’t have to destroy your diet, and thinking that it does may serve as an excuse for even more overeating. If you find yourself overeating, a great way to counteract the bloating and form a new habit is to walk it off. Take a walk after your meals. Staying physically active, even for a few extra minutes each day, can help you stay in shape—and give you extra room in your caloric budget for the foods you love the most.

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