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Donuts in your cart

By Beth Cecil
Owensboro Health HealthPark dietitian

The funniest thing happened the other day while I was checking out at the grocery. The cashier, after completing my order, looked at me and said, “You bought more junk than I would have thought since you are a nutritionist.” She did go on however to pay me a big compliment by saying that I  appeared fit so I must “work it off”.

Of course this really made me start thinking so I rushed home to see just exactly what I did get that day. While I had apples, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, beans, lean ground beef and turkey breast, I also had chicken nuggets, donuts, Velveeta cheese, diet Pepsi and bacon. Yikes, you might think, aren’t I supposed to be setting a good example? 

I often see people at the grocery checking out what’s in my cart and I am even self-conscious about it at times. But the truth is, just at I told the cashier, I am human too and not totally perfect. 

If you know me or have been reading this column for a while, you know that my motto when it comes to eating is “moderation”.  In reality I think that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. There are just some foods that you need to eat less often or in smaller amounts than others. This is what I practice and what I preach. 

In fact, did you know that totally depriving yourself of the foods that you really enjoy or labeling foods as “good” and “bad” in order to lose weight actually could backfire?

This is because over time these restrictions can lead to cravings, binges and overeating completely sabotaging your attempts to improve nutrition and weight.

Food deprivation, or restrictive eating, may cause you to dislike healthy nutritious foods. And what happens when you chronically feel deprived? In most cases, once you have access to these “forbidden” or restricted foods, you binge or overeat. Perhaps we do this because we fear another restriction is just around the corner.

So ask yourself a few questions? 

  • Do you feel guilty when you eat your favorite foods that are high in calories?
  • Do you crave foods you have labeled as “bad” on a regular basis?
  • Do you label foods as “good” and “bad”?
  • Do you eat your favorite foods only if you feel you deserve them?
  • Are you constantly “watching what you eat”?
  • Do you ever feel “out of control” when eating?

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, the chances are, you are depriving yourself of some of the foods you enjoy. And unfortunately, if the deprivation of food is an attempt to lose weight, the negative effects outweigh the benefits.

So in order to improve your chances of weight loss and boost your nutritional status, go ahead and stop depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy. This may be difficult at first, but here are some tips.

Abandon fat-free and low-calorie foods you really don’t like. Cut calories and fat in ways that taste good and the results will be much more worth it. For  example, if you really dislike fat free mayonnaise or salad dressing use smaller servings of reduced calorie or regular. Cut fat and calories in other ways in your diet perhaps just by eating smaller portions.

Realize that healthy eating and weight management can be achieved by eating a wide variety of foods. Eat what you really desire, but just practice moderation. When choosing foods that are higher in calories and fat, be aware of what makes a serving and use good portion control.

And finally, use positive “self-talk”. Rather than “beating yourself up” when you feel you’ve made a poor food choice, think something positive. Tell yourself things like “I will take this one day at a time” or “I can take charge of my eating by planning meals ahead of time.”

Eventually, you may find that you choose healthier foods by choice, not because you think you should and you also may see more success in your weight loss efforts.

And in the meantime, if you see me with chips or donuts in my shopping cart, remember that motto of mine, “all foods are okay in moderation.”

Read other articles by Beth

Meet Our Dietitian

At Owensboro Health, you’ll get nutrition counseling from a registered nutritionist — an expert in medical nutrition therapy. Beth Cecil, RDN, LD (right), is certified in food allergy management and is a Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Management, so you can trust her to care for your or your loved one’s specialized needs.