By Amy Lee
It’s been a long day at work and you finally arrive home, exhausted. You have a hot shower, get into your pyjamas and jump into bed. Now that you're fully relaxed, you feel like a sweet treat: chocolate! Do you get some from the pantry and enjoy it or stay put, telling yourself that chocolate is 'bad' and you shouldn't eat it?
When dieting, many of us have battles about certain foods, labelling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We may perceive treats as ‘bad’ for you, and whilst it’s true that some of these treats may be unhealthy in large amounts, there’s nothing healthy about the mentality of constantly restricting ourselves of foods we love.
Despite what you see on social media and popular diet guides, treating yourself occasionally is COMPLETELY okay! In fact, it can actually help foster a healthier, more positive relationship with food and therefore a more balanced diet.
There’s a lot of focus on foods being labelled either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but one thing people tend to forget is that food is a source of enjoyment, not just for nutrition.
Instead of looking at your favourite foods like it’s the enemy, have a healthier diet and mindset with these tips:
Eating should be an experience that is enjoyable, and having control over this is important - that’s where mindful eating comes into practice. If you are eating purposefully, this will help your brain register you are satisfied and full when you’ve treated yourself, instead of going overboard, feeling guilty, and binge eating, which is common in problem dieters.
This doesn’t mean negative thoughts - “I have to stop eating as it’s bad for me” - as this is not mindful. It’s being aware that you’re happy enjoying your food and you’ve had a reasonable amount.
When eating mindfully, practice gratitude for the food on your plate, aswell as enjoying the taste, with NO distractions such as your phone, TV or laptop.Drink sips of water in between and eat slowly and purposefully, appreciating every mouthful.
Have a balanced diet
Having a good diet doesn’t mean excessive amounts of kale and smoothie bowls. It doesn’t mean cutting out carbs or fat. It’s about nourishing yourself with predominantly fresh, nutritious and wholesome foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats and nuts, but also balancing it out with the occasional treats that fall outside of this bracket.
We’re often surrounded by messages that encourage feelings of guilt after eating treats, and the restrictive nature of this can actually encourage people to eat more. It’s important we enjoy the balance between treats and healthy meals.
Enjoy your food!
Instead of labelling food as 'good', 'bad' or a 'reward', it’s important to perceive food as something that’s pleasurable.
As long as treats are an occasional food, and not replacing nutritious, healthy meals, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy them.
When it comes to weight loss, feeding your soul is just as important as feeding your body. Enjoying indulgent foods helps you do that.
A healthy diet is balanced and involves eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, with the odd treat here and there, which will not affect your overall health negatively - but actually have a positive effect on fostering a healthy eating mindset and is much more sustainable in the long term.
Treats can be secretly healthy too!
Do you want desserts that taste decadent, but are actually full of protein and essential micronutrients? Check out some of my favourite healthy treats below!