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How often can I have a treat?

I get asked this question weekly. "ow often can I have chocolate?" "How often is it OK to indulge?"

The truth is, there's no hard and fast rule or one answer for everyone. It really depends on a whole range of factors. So rather than dictating to my clients I like to chat about their habits and what they like to eat. Because at the end of the day, good health is about healthy habits, which are the things you do 80-90% of the time. The little things that happen here and there around that, don't make a significant difference in the overall scheme of things. And importantly, are sometimes the things that make healthy habits sustainable over time - a diet based on deprivation never lasts.

So here are some of the things I suggest you consider when you wonder next, how often it's OK to have that piece of chocolate:

  1. What are your habits the rest of the time? Do you regularly skip meals? Are you eating 5 serves of veggies and 2 serves of fruit each day?
  2. Is your junk food a substitute for a real meal?
  3. Are you honestly only eating your treat foods as often as you think? Or could it be more? This one is always a really interesting question. I can't tell you how many clients I have had, convinced they are only having a little bit of this or that here or there and are struggling to lose weight. So we do a food diary for a couple of weeks and very quickly discover that there are actually more extras creeping in than originally thought.
  4. Is there a healthier option that will fulfill that craving some of the time? For example, replacing milk chocolate with dark chocolate or swapping a bowl of ice cream for some yoghurt and fruit.
  5. Or could you reduce the quantity if you'd like to have extras more often. For example instead of having a big bowl of ice cream, use a smaller bowl and a smaller spoon, or halve your ice cream and add a serve of fruit on the side.

At the end of the day you need to consider your particular lifestyle and your goals. But one thing I will say, is that extras do have a place in your diet - think about how much and how often you're really having them though. 

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