On a Diet? Don't Toss That Valentine's Day Chocolate.

Like Teddy said, two hearts belong together.  And if they're the peanut-butter-chocolate variety, they belong in your mouth - even if you're trying to lose weight. 

Go 'head girl...eat those chocolate hearts.

Go 'head girl...eat those chocolate hearts.

Here's why: recent research reveals that dieters who view negative messages about sugary snacks are more likely to eat MORE of said demonized foods.  Read more here.

These findings make perfect sense.  The desire for what we're told we can't have is the basis for many a love affair, great war, and, internal food struggle.  Keep telling yourself: I can't have that Kit-Kat!  I can't have bread!  Hide the Nutella!  Stay away from the vending machine!  Sugar, flour, chocolate, carbs - bad, bad, bad, bad!!!

The problem is, now all these delicious items are dancing around in your head, taunting you – you look up from your chicken salad and standing before you is a gigantic chocolate chip cookie.  You wearily stand up to take a bite, only to find you’re actually chomping on a co-worker.  OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but when you inevitably "give in" to these "forbidden" temptations, all hell breaks loose. 

Please don't eat me!

Please don't eat me!

Although I’m not actively trying to lose weight, I enthusiastically subscribe to the philosophy of enjoying food and enjoying life.  Part of that philosophy is that no foods are forbidden, and my night-time routine always includes something sweet.  I credit this daily treat, following MyPlate guidelines, and of course, strength training, with maintaining appropriate weight and body fat. 

Need more encouragement?  Check out this post by bikini competitor Sohee Lee, who recently ate a Snickers bar every day leading up to her most recent show.  (PS - she's one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram).  

Should you watch your overall sugar intake?  Of course.  Current DGAs recommend that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars.  On a 2000 calorie a day meal plan, that amounts to 50g of sugar.  Eating minimally processed foods, reading labels, and limiting the sugar you add to coffee or tea can leave plenty of room for a sweet treat.  The trick is to get the most of out it:

Choose wisely

Treat yourself to something you absolutely love.  Don’t waste your discretionary caloric/sugar intake on something you feel “meh” about.

Savor every bite

Don’t rush a good thing.  Close your eyes, put your treat down between bites, and use your sense of sight and smell to enhance taste.  Minimize distractions – put down the phone, turn off the TV, and tune into your sensory experience.  This should go for all meals – not just dessert!

Exercise portion control

If you love chocolate chip cookies, bake up a batch and freeze them individually.  Singly-wrapped squares of luxury-brand chocolate can be enjoyed one at a time.  Love ice cream?  Opt for a frozen yogurt, and beware that a serving is half a cup – not a pint!

At the end of the day, ALL foods can fit – some in larger quantity than others.

Enjoy your food, enjoy your life!