Last week’s Weight Watchers topic was “Eat What You Love,” since with the PointsPlus plan no food is off-limits and research confirms that learning to incorporate favorite foods into the plan is critical to lasting weight loss success.
Whenever you deem a favorite food “taboo” and utter words such as “I’ll never eat chocolate or pizza again,” I believe you’re setting yourself up for failure. You love what you love and your body and mind will figure out how to get them. At least that’s how it’s always been for me. As soon as I think about making a food off-limits, I feel my heart begin to race and my salivary glands activate. My body and mind don’t like to be told, “NO.”
That doesn’t mean indulging with reckless abandon either. It’s about striking a happy-healthy balance.
Here are some strategies for Eating What You Love and staying on plan:
6 Strategies to Eat What You Love and Stay on Plan
1. Eat Your Trigger Foods Outside the Home
Give yourself what you “love too much” in a controlled way. If you know you love potato chips but have a hard time stopping, allow yourself a single serving portion the next time you are out at your favorite sandwich shop.
If you love ice cream but have a hard time staying away from it when it’s in the freezer, take yourself out to your favorite ice cream shop as an occasional treat. Order your single scoop, sit down and savor every spoonful.
(This has been a big part of my weight loss and weight maintenance strategy over the past couple of years.)
2. Plan For and the Really Enjoy Your Splurges
You can’t give up a food you love forever, so every once in a while, indulge without guilt. Make it a celebration and savor the experience. And make sure you plan for it. Pre-track and make it work within your daily PointsPlus value target or allocate your available weekly PointsPlus values.
This may mean a monthly trip to your favorite pizza place for a slice or a stack of pancakes at your favorite diner. You get to decide!
My favorite food splurges include:
- really good dark chocolate
- really good french fries
- goat cheese
- really good crusty bread
- ice cream
3. Don’t Waste Your PointsPlus Values on Foods That Aren’t Worth It
I hate that “I can’t believe I wasted so many points on that” feeling, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. Back in my “diet days” I used to load up on low fat, low calorie, low flavor “diet foods” that didn’t satisfy me. Snackwells are one of my classic examples.
I love oreos and really enjoy 2 or 3 every once in a while. To save fat, calories and PointsPlus values, I once bought a package of Snackwells low fat chocolate cookies instead. I opened them and ate one cookie… and then another….and then another….and another. Before I really knew what happened half the package was gone and I had eaten way more calories and pointsplus values than if I’d just had the Oreos and I still wasn’t satisfied!
So don’t eat foods just because they have low PointsPlus values or someone told you they were good for you. Find foods you do love. If you don’t like broccoli, skip it and find a green vegetable you prefer instead.
For me foods that aren’t worth it include:
- store-bought sweets
- protein bars
- dry breakfast cereals
- “light” breads
4. Upgrade the Quality and Flavor of Your Food
These days I make it my mission to make sure that I spend my precious PointsPlus values on foods I really love. For me this has meant becoming a bit of a food snob and going for the tastiest highest quality food I can afford. That way I feel happy, eat less and stay on plan.
So I’ve traded in things like vending machine candy bars for really high quality French or Belgian dark chocolate. I end up with less quantity but more quality, a perfect tradeoff when trying to stay slim.
I skip the fast food french fries and wait till I’m in a really nice place where they make their fries from real potatoes so they’re totatlly worth the splurge.
I only eat desserts that are delicious and worth the PointsPlus value, which leaves out most everything that comes from the store. I’d rather have 2 or 3 bites of a delicious decadent homemade dessert, than more of something that is just so-so.
I make sure my food is full of flavor by using lots of fresh herbs, spices, vinegar, lemons and limes.
5. Substitute Low PointsPlus Value Versions of Favorite Foods
This works only if you really like the substitution, otherwise it will feel like deprivation. For me substitutions that work include nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream, ground turkey for ground beef, Hebrew National 97% fat-free hot dogs for regular, thin crust pizza for thick crust and almond or coconut milk for regular milk.
6. Include a Food or Drink You Love with Every Meal
Maybe it’s a spoonful of mustard, a sprinkle of sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of fresh lemon, dash of hot sauce. For me, my morning wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t begin it with half a banana and teaspoon or two of peanut butter. Decide what it is that you need to do to elevate your meals from ordinary to special.
Doesn’t it feel good to know that you can lose weight, keep it off all while enjoying the foods that you love? It sure does to me.
If you liked this article on 6 strategies to eat what you love and stay on your weight loss plan, check out these links:
- Eat What You Love (Weight Watchers)
- Focus on What You Can Say Yes To (Simple Nourished Living)
- Manage Your Portions (Simple Nourished Living)
- Eat What You Want (Simple Nourished Living)