What Nutritionists Eat When They Indulge

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If you think the life of a nutritionist is all quinoa and kale, you would be wrong. As it turns out, they're human, and they have sweet and salty cravings just like the rest of us. In fact, many nutritionists build indulgences into their daily meal plans, proof that it's okay to give into our cravings a little here and there. Many nutritionists believe it's an important practice to incorporate if you want to stick to a healthy eating plan for the long haul.

"If we deny ourselves our favorite items, our bodies will crave them even more, and it will become a distraction and a focus on missing that food that brings you so much comfort and joy," said Wesley Delbridge, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "You end up resenting the diet that you are on and then splurging, which then leads to shame or guilt."

Delbridge recommends finding a way to work in the foods you love in proper portions. "In order to control my chocolate cravings, I allow myself two mini chocolate pieces at night. I don't have big bars in the house, and the small portions help me stay on track," he says.


Enjoy Your Favorites in Moderation


It's important not to judge yourself for having cravings or compare your favorite indulgences to those of a friend. "I'm a dietitian, but I am also a human being and we all have our favorite indulgences," says Delbridge. "Appreciate that you have these foods in your life that you enjoy, [and] use moderation and a healthy lifestyle to continue to enjoy them," he advises.

Practicing eating foods that please the palate might feel like cheating, but you're actually setting yourself up for long-term success. According to various news sources, research has shown that the best diet is one that is sustainable—meaning if you can't picture your life without ever eating a fettuccine again, low-carb probably isn't a great fit for you. Any diet plan that is going to make you feel guilty if you reach for your craving also threatens to disrupt your momentum and progress entirely.

The key is defining what "moderation" means. It can mean different things to different people: My "moderation" rule might mean I can have two slices of pizza three days a week and your "moderation rule" might be one slice of pizza a month. If you think you're practicing moderation now, but you're still not losing weight, you likely need to reevaluate your food intake and be stricter with your diet, research says. Tracking your food is a great way to pinpoint when and if you're going overboard on any indulgences.

Knowing how to work your favorites into your meal plan and still lose weight is something you'll need to learn with the help of a professional, or through trial and error. It may take some time, but know that it will all be worth it in the end when you can have your cake and lose weight, too.


How Nutritionists Let Loose


"I have a major sweet tooth and cannot live without having a small bite of something sweet each day," said Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D., author of "Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. "Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and may even promote healthy blood pressure, so enjoying it daily won't have a negative impact on health. I just work to keep the portion in check! I either add a teaspoon of dark chocolate chips into a homemade trail mix or drizzle melted chocolate over air-popped popcorn or nuts."

Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy co-founder, Kathie Swift, M.S., R.D.N. agrees, saying she loves the taste and mouthfeel of dark chocolate. "In the winter months here in the Berkshires, I make my own dark chocolate cocoa with coconut or almond milk and a dusting of cinnamon!"

Delbridge said his other indulgences are ice cream and his grandma's oatmeal cookies, but he focuses on healthy living first. "My rules are that if I have met my exercise and eating goals for the week, I have one small pint of my favorite ice cream that I buy on the weekend and eat slowly over those few days," he said.

Another thing he'll never give up? His grandma's oatmeal cookies. "I was raised having these my whole life. These cookies made by 87-year-old grandma are my favorite food that brings me the most joy," he says, adding that the treat reminds him of his childhood and the love of his grandmother. "When my grandma sends me a Tupperware of these delicious and tempting cookies, I could eat the whole container. Instead—and this may be extreme—but I have my wife 'hide' them somewhere around the house where I can't find them. Then, every time I want one, she has to get it."

"Having an indulgence every now and then can be part of a healthy diet if you are eating well most of the time," Jeanette Kimszal, R.D.N. confirms. "My favorite indulgence would be ice cream. I like to stick to the real stuff, so no light or fat-free versions for me. They tend to have artificial sweeteners and other additives," she says. Kimszal looks for varieties with all-natural ingredients and prefers ice cream with milk from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows, which is richer in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients.

Mascha Davis, M.P.H., R.D.N., a National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says she can't live without her morning coffee with milk and sugar and enjoys dessert most nights. "I love a good cup of coffee in the morning and the ritual that surrounds it," she says. "I believe it's essential to honor our cravings and treat ourselves. Feeling deprived not only doesn't feel good but sets us up for overeating later."


Don't Go Hog-Wild with Cheat Days


We've all seen funny memes about cheat days on social media, and while "cheat days" and "cheat meals" sound fun, they can derail your efforts if you don't reign them in. While science says that eating an indulgent meal on occasion can be a good thing when it comes to reaching your long-term goals (thanks, science!), it's important to plan that meal out and be able to stop at one meal.

If you're working on your physique and trying to build lean muscle, an entire day of cheat meals could interfere with all the training and clean eating you did the week before. One study found that within five days of eating a high-fat diet, the way muscle metabolizes nutrients is changed, potentially impacting your metabolism that quickly. While special occasions or vacations might tempt you to throw your healthy eating habits out the window entirely just for the day or week, staying the course and working on building and solidifying those healthy habits will pay off in the long run.

So, go ahead, enjoy your pizza lunch with friends, but don't eat the whole pie and don't follow it up with a never-ending pasta bowl for dinner. Allow yourself indulgences that you can look forward to, but then get back to your healthy eating plan at your next meal so your body produces the changes you're working toward.
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Member Comments

I really enjoyed reading this one. I practice using moderation, also. I never deny myself anything. If I want it, I eat it. Using moderation of course. Report
Great information. Report
I gave in earlier this week for cupcakes. Craved them all week then said it was okay. I still stayed in my calories too. Report
I found this article very interesting. Report
I like the advice about having dark chocolate every day! That's my takeaway! Report
Packaging things into portion sizes helps and also delays getting stale (avoiding the “have to eat it before it goes bad” excuse). If needed, the packs can also be tossed into the freezer. I often use slider plastic bags to keep things together in the freezer or else big plastic containers with tight lids.
- 2oz oxo baby blocks are good freezer containers for ice cream
- foldable sandwich bags can be twisted and knotted for individual cookies, mini donuts or cut up big donuts or muffins, pieces of pies or cakes; small amounts of candy or trail mix or granola or any junky cereal. I use large entree plastic containers to keep them even longer, although I usually put pastry/cookies into the freezer in zip bags
- I pack up individual pieces of pizza for the freezer before eating the last one.

I do the same for real food as well, dividing bags of baby carrots, shredded cabbage, broccoli slaw, cut up bell peppers, pieces of seedless cucumber, small celery sticks, pieces of onions or shallots, 1oz pieces of cheese etc. for the fridge in twisted/knotted foldable sandwich bags or zip packs (sandwich and snack size) and any fruit/veg for the freezer (for cooking or smoothies). I even divide up commercial bags of frozen veg/potato/waffle
s etc. and also rinsed canned beans and cooked rice etc. this way so I can have variety without having to eventually chop through a block of ice... This means I can toss together a reasonable meal in about a minute in a bowl and then stick it in the microwave for a few minutes. You can see I am very kitchen-challenge
d. Report
For sure, the keys are noderation, track your food, and don't deny yourself your favorite foods, unless it's contraindicated by a health issue. Report
Very informative! Report
Great article! Report
I guess I already agree with the article since I read it while 'indulging' in a piece of 70% dark chocolate. LOL

The old expression "Moderation in all things" is wise. There is no food that I consider off limits but there certainly are limits on how much and how often indulgences should be part of my diet.

Great article with sound advice!
Report
Interesting information!! & good suggestions! Thank you Report
JWCOLBY
All those on restricted calorie diets who have lost weight and kept it off for 3 years raise your hand.

Uhhhh yea. Since the nutritionist is (usually) giving bad advice to begin with, knowing what they eat when they indulge is of no interest to me. Report
Good read... Thanks! Report
Thank you for this one! Report
Eat everything in moderation. There are no bad foods but quantity makes it so. Report


 

About The Author

Diana Kelly
Diana Kelly
Diana Kelly is an accomplished journalist, editor and freelance writing coach with over 14 years of experience writing for national publications and award-winning websites. She loves taking group exercise classes, playing with her puppy and trying out new home workouts with interesting fitness equipment when she gets the chance. Follow her on Twitter @DianaKelly, Facebook @DianaKellyWriter or check out her website: http://www.dianakelly.com/.
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