When it comes to diets, we are very quick to focus on what we should not be doing or what we are doing wrong - don't eat that; cut back; eat less; this is better - not only is it confusing but overwhelmingly negative.
Food and eating, along with keeping healthy, should generally be enjoyable and positive parts of your life. And the good news is, some of the lifestyle habits that you may have thought were bad for you, may actually be much better for you than you thought.
Taking a break from your diet
One of the most common pieces of feedback from clients at a diet appointment is that they have "been bad".
No, they have not murdered anyone, they have eaten a few things they should not have according to their diet plan.
The good news is that when it comes to diets, things do not have to be perfect, rather they need to be consistent. This means that an occasional treat, or higher calorie meal, is not an issue. In fact, research that has examined the effects of strict calorie restriction over time has actually shown that there is benefit in eating more calories occasionally as then the body does not think it is starving and as such continues to burn calories. So enjoy something you feel like every so often - a piece of cake, a couple of glasses of wine as there is no harm done.
Chronic dieters are often particularly strict with their carbohydrate intake and for those wanting to lose weight initially, cutting back on the processed carbs can be a good dietary move. At the other extreme, chronically low intakes of carbohydrate can leave you feeling tired, irritable, constipated and actually burning less fat as the body slows down metabolic rate to account for this fuel shortage.
As many of us lead inactive lives, indeed we are likely to need fewer carbs than was once recommended, but eating fewer and fewer carbs is not the answer. So if you constantly count carbs, and yet never see much change in your clothes, it may be time to throw in an extra slice of bread, piece of fruit or potato a few times each day.
Enjoying a drink
It is not enjoying a single glass of wine regularly that is related to both weight gain and an increase risk of some diseases. Rather it is drinking in large volumes regularly that causes an issue with both our weight and our health. In fact, some types of alcohol including antioxidant rich red wine is linked to better cholesterol levels and a higher intake of antioxidants. So there is no need to go cold turkey when it comes to your vino, just keep the glasses and the pour small.
Taking a break from the gym
When we get into a good training habit, the structure and routine, along with the endorphin rush on a daily basis can become addictive. Such a strong exercise habit can also lead to feelings of guilt when you do really want to take a break. When it comes to performance and muscle recovery, the truth is that rest is actually the key to optimal performance. In real life terms this means that on the days you really do not feel like going to the gym, you are probably better to sleep a little more and have a day off. The body is very good at telling you when you need a break, you just have to listen to it.
Indulging in comfort food
Let's be honest, who has not wanted a greasy burger and fries; or a massive serve of ice-cream occasionally? Rich tasting comfort foods can play different roles in our lives whether it is reminding us of eating at a particular time, or more commonly craving some serious calories after periods of strict eating and dieting.
Whatever the reason for your craving, sometimes it is better to just eat what you are really wanting rather than to deny, deny, deny the craving, eat plenty more instead as you try to avoid it before you end up eating what you were originally craving anyway.
Again one off indulgences are not the issue, rather binge eating in which you order the entire fast food menu is a problem. So next time you are hungry, a powerful questions is 'what do I really feel like' and if it is a burger or cake occasionally, so be it.