People tend to think I’m an extremely healthy eater. I’ll say no to baked goods brought in by a colleague…I’ll order salad as an entree…I’ll abstain from dessert during the week. To some, I guess this can seem extreme, to others, maybe not. What most people may not realize is that on the weekend, I’ll enjoy dessert, a glass of wine, sweet potato fries and then some. The key is that I’m purposeful about how I indulge. I truly believe a little healthy indulgence is good for each and every one of us.
Depriving yourself to an extreme isn’t sustainable for the long-term. When you don’t let yourself enjoy the things you love, you end up craving them more. By indulging wisely and treating yourself once in awhile, however, it will be easier to stay on track the rest of the time. My philosophy is to follow a healthy diet 85% of the time, and indulge 15% of the time. This goal helps to keep me honest at least 80% of the time (The 85% allows for the slippage when it happens, because we all know it will).
If you struggle with mindful indulgence, here are a few tips:
- Be Choosey: Part of indulging wisely is figuring out what is really worth the indulgence and what splurging means to you. If you have a sweet tooth, but you could take or leave French fries or potato chips, save your indulgences for dessert. When you’re confronted with unhealthy foods that you don’t really crave, skip those or substitute healthier foods so that you have room for the indulgence you really want later.
- Plan Indulgences Ahead: Every week, pick the one day when you will allow yourself to enjoy the things you normally avoid. If you have a big event on Saturday night that might be the perfect occasion to indulge. Or, if you have a birthday dinner with a friend on a Wednesday, you might want to enjoy then. Planning indulgences ahead of time gives you something to look forward to throughout the week, so that it’s easier to remain healthy the rest of the time.
- Plan for the Six Days: Plan your week’s meals and snacks so that it is easier to remain healthy on the six days. Make sure you shop for all of the required ingredients so that nothing is left to chance.
- Dining Out: If you have a business or social dinner on a night that is “non-indulgent,” go online and read the restaurant’s menu. Choose what you will ahead of time so you are less likely to go off plan.
- Enjoy Your Indulgences: When it’s time to indulge, enjoy it. Don’t let guilt get in the way or beat up on yourself for enjoying. Keep your mindful practices in play, however, so that you maintain a healthy level of satiation and don’t feel physically ill or overstuffed from overdoing it.
Even with the best laid plans, there will be times when your healthy habits may wane. Accept that this is natural and remember that every day is a new day, and a new beginning. If you find yourself spiraling into unhealthier habits on a regular basis, hit the “restart” button by picking a day to get back “on the wagon” and follow through on your plan to do so.
Adapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at Amazon.com.