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Occasionally indulging - Medically Speaking, Volume Three, Number Six, 12/17/16

You can occasionally indulge, right? What do you do when an occasional indulgence becomes not so occasional? Hopefully you are trying to eat healthy and your day to day menu reflects your good efforts. We all tend to splurge a little for special occasions, and rightfully so. But there are so many special occasions out there it's easy to always find an excuse to indulge. Whether it's birthday cake, date night, a holiday, anniversary dinner, travelling to the big city and enjoying a nice meal or hitting a fast food joint after the big game. You don't have to look far to find a reason to throw your healthy eating plan out the window. So what can you do to keep on track when it isn't always convenient or fun.

• Never go to a partyhungry

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you know you are going somewhere that will have an endless supply of high sugar, high fat, calorie dense foods, eat a little something first. Grab a piece of fruit and a cheese stick or even a glass of milk before you leave. It will give your stomach a little something to help curb your appetite. Going to a party hungry is an easy way to overeat.

• Ask yourself if you are rationalizing this splurge or not

Just because fast food is the only option after the game doesn't mean you have to go for the double cheeseburger with fries and a large soft drink. Most people tend to eat fast food more than they would like simply because it is so convenient. But that doesn't mean you can't choose a lower calorie, lower fat option such as a grilled chicken sandwich or a salad with a vinegar based salad dressing.

• Pick your poison

Plan ahead if you know that a certain week such as Christmas, or the 4th of July has multiple events planned where there will be lots of food and lots of desserts. You don't really need a dessert at every event. Decide beforehand if the dessert is really "worth it" or not. Skip some of the desserts knowing that you will indulge later on in the week.

• Offer a healthyalternative

Many social events are pot luck and even if they aren't, the hostess will rarely turn down an offer to help. Volunteer to bring a dish that you know you are comfortable eating. If you are playing games and know that everyone will be snacking all evening, give yourself a healthy option by bringing some air popped, lightly buttered popcorn or even some fresh berries to snack on.

• Give yourself somedistance

If possible put a little distance between you and the snack table. Proximity to food tends to provide opportunity for mindless eating.

•Take a lap.

Before you load up at the buffet table make a lap around the food first. Take note of the extra special food that you know you want to include. Make a plan to skip the not so special food (chips, fries, pizza, etc.) that you can have almost anytime. Spend your calories on those bacon wrapped scallops instead.

Be honest with yourself on how often you are allowing yourself to indulge. If it is more than 10% of the time, take inventory and strive to cut out a few extras. Give yourself credit for the times you are keeping on track with your healthy eating plan; but also give yourself permission to truly enjoy the times you choose to indulge.

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