No matter how committed you are to shedding those extra pounds, eventually the call of the brownie will be too tempting to resist. And who wants to live a life without chocolate anyway? The good news is that when you indulge the right way, the extra calories won’t derail your weight loss efforts. So go ahead and order dessert, because there are four ways to ensure you still end up with a slimmer silhouette.
1. Don’t skip meals.
The Wrong Way: In anticipation of tonight’s dinner from a greasy burger joint, you skip breakfast and lunch. By the time you order your French fries, you’re too ravenous and grouchy to enjoy the experience.
The Right Way: Plan for indulgences without starving yourself. Opting for lighter fare throughout the day – think fresh fruits and veggies, plus lean protein like grilled chicken or fish – will help you feel satisfied while still “banking” some calories for later.
2. Eat more slowly.
The Wrong Way: You’ve been denying yourself cake for weeks, so when it’s finally time to have a piece, you scarf it down faster than you can say “happy birthday.” Since you barely had time to taste it, you find yourself craving a second piece.
The Right Way: Instead of cramming the cake into your mouth, take small bites and slowly savor every one. A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who ate slowly consumed fewer calories than those who sped through their meals. Try putting your fork down between bites to remind yourself that when it comes to dessert, there’s no prize for finishing first.
3. Don’t finish it all.
The Wrong Way: You’re craving the crunch of potato chips, so you grab a bag and polish off the whole thing even though you felt full after only two handfuls.
The Right Way: Forget the “clean plate” club. To keep your weight loss efforts on track, stop eating as soon as you feel satisfied rather than when the food is gone. In a recent study at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, participants who consumed smaller portions of junk food felt just as satisfied as those who ate larger quantities.
4. Eat the real thing.
The Wrong Way: In an attempt to stick to your diet, you opt for a pint of “lite” Rocky Road ice cream instead of the regular stuff. After devouring the whole container, you wonder why the scale hasn’t budged.
The Right Way: For special treats, think quality over quantity. Researchers have found that when people choose foods labeled “diet” or “low-fat” with the goal of losing weight, they often end up gaining instead. The reason? The low-fat label leads us to believe (incorrectly!) that we can eat a bigger portion with no effect on our jeans size. To slim down, you’re better off splurging on a smaller serving of the real thing.
About the Author: Katie Markey McLaughlin, M.S., is a freelance journalist and blogger who is passionate about all things healthy living. She lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband and very energetic toddler. Learn more about her writing at www.KatieMcL.com.