We’ve all been there. You’re striving to lose weight and doing a great job with diet and exercise. You are cutting calories, hitting the gym regularly, and feeling good about your progress. But then something happens. You have a bad day at the office, you’re out at lunch with friends, or you’re attending a child’s birthday party, and you splurge on food that is high in calories. Too often this can feel like such a huge failure that you’re tempted to just give up on dieting all together.
But one slip up doesn’t mean that all your hard work was for nothing. In fact, denying yourself splurges can actually be detrimental to your diet goals. If you think that one splurge equals failure, than you will be more likely to throw in the towel after just one incident. The University of Rochester says that setting unrealistic goals or getting discouraged by one slip up often fouls up diets. In reality, it is just fine to occasionally splurge on a treat.
Though our bodies are certainly very sophisticated, research has suggested that the body’s feedback system of total calories in and total calories out isn’t exactly precise. WebMD reports this means that weight will remain stable even if food intake is altered by plus or minus 600 calories on any given day. What really makes a difference as far as weight loss goes is a sustained trend in either direction. This means that the occasional food that is high in calories won’t sabotage your diet, as long as you don’t make a habit out of it. Additionally, research has shown that most healthy people have their own simple system of keeping their calorie levels balanced: if they splurge at lunch, they’ll compensate by under-eating later.
The best way to succeed at a diet is to keep realistic goals and allow yourself to make mistakes without throwing in the towel. If that means eating the occasional food that is high in calories as a part of your regularly balanced diet, then that’s okay.
- “High-Calorie Splurging Won’t Ruin Your Diet”, WebMD
- “Ignore These Diet ‘Rules’”, University of Rochester Medical Center
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