Food Choices: “Should” Vs. “Shouldn’t”

eat-this-not-that

Last week I found myself more motivated to eat well than usual. After spending nearly 32-hours in a van traveling for a 200-mile relay race eating peanut butter-filled pretzels, cranberry white chocolate chip cookies, and gigantic New York bagels, I wanted to get myself back on track. So when I got home I started balancing out those foods I shouldn’t have all the time with the healthier foods I should.

When I first started losing weight, I was obsessed with what I shouldn’t eat. Ice cream, pizza, and cookies all made the “shouldn’t” list. I counted calories at the time, and most of the items in that category had high calories, so I always felt pretty bad when I indulged.

Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to lose weight and maintain it, I needed to find a balance that focused more on what I should eat as opposed to what I should stay away from. I starting to think about what type of nutrients my body needed to live healthily. I knew that fruits and vegetables should make up the majority of my diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains in the mix too. But it was still difficult to train my brain to think this way about dropping pounds, especially when it came to how a slice of cake would fit into my diet without sabotaging my weight loss efforts.

What ultimately changed my thinking was selecting foods for their nutritional value. For instance, eating a banana or cooking salmon for dinner is something I should do since it provides my body with a whole slew of benefits. Similarly, I found that the nutrient-rich foods fueled my body and gave me energy to power through my day—I was full and alert.

It’s important to remember though that a healthy diet is all about balance and allowing yourself those favorite foods on occasion. As long as I keep my indulgences at a healthy ratio to the good-for-me foods my body needs, it’s certainly OK to enjoy some of my “shouldn’t” foods. If my choices are mainly healthy, nutritious ones, I can take the “guilty” out of guilty pleasure.

More: Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

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