Food and Nutrition
Abstinence is Counterproductive
Feb 1, 2014 - 10:48:02 AM

( - We've all been there: staring over a now-empty sleeve of Fig Newtons, wondering how our lives came to this. And in those moments of quiet reflection, when we begin to ponder the mysteries of the universe as the stomach pains finally subside, it can be tempting to swear off our favorite treat forever. How many times have we collectively said "never again"?

At times like this, when going cold turkey on an indulgence seems the only option, the reality is that giving up a favorite food can lead us to gorge on something else. Abstinence may be admirable, but often the substitute is as bad-or worse-than the original offender. That's why at The Monday Campaigns we preach moderation.

The issue is many snack foods are marketed so as if to appear healthy. The copy, packaging, and emphasis on "healthy" ingredients contribute to the illusion that they can be consumed by the truckload with no consequence. One glance at their nutritional info, however, will reveal a tiny serving size or high sugar content. "Low fat," "natural" and "low-carb" chips, bars, and other popular snacks are designed to reduce your guilt at the grocery store, but their ingredients can increase your waistline if you go overboard.

"So rather than eliminating favorite foods altogether, why not reframe their role in your diet?" Moderation is both sensible and effective; an occasional treat can be safely incorporated into an otherwise healthy diet. In fact, if you deploy them strategically, favorite foods can provide excellent motivation for a range of healthy activities, from exercise to smoking cessation. Think of the cartoons in which an animal races after a hotdog perpetually dangling from its head.

The trick is to be clear from the beginning about when and how you're going to indulge. Set guidelines and adhere to them. A small treat after a five-mile run is a great thing to look forward to, but five of them will undo all your hard work. Try to purchase items that are individually packaged, so you won't open a box and realize you've reached the bottom ten minutes later. Better yet, look for a recipe that sounds delicious-but takes some work to prepare. That will deter you from cooking it constantly while also honing your skills as a chef. Plus, if you make it yourself, you'll know exactly what goes in it. A healthy diet doesn't have to be draconian; it just requires a little extra thought.


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