"Everything in moderation," they say, but how much is moderation exactly? One doughnut a day, or a dozen over a week? Instead of relying on an overused, vague mantra, look at decisions to "cheat on your diet" in terms of risk versus reward to make better judgment calls on "treating yo'self!"
Image by stevendepolo.
The problem with moderation is that it also invites the thinking, "Oh, since I was 'good' the last couple days, one couldn't hurt." Not only is this a poor reward trigger, but most people also just have trouble drawing a hard line on moderation and end up overdoing it — repeatedly. Sure, some can quantify moderation more easily than others, but even that could change by the week.
I've found thinking in terms of risk versus reward to be more effective at establishing guidelines for "moderation". And while it deals mostly in the context of finances, its inherent idea can be useful for cheat meals, treat weekends, vacation eating, and many other decisions in life.
Let's say you're faced with eating a slice of cake from a coworker's birthday party. It happens to be a store-bought vanilla cake with vanilla icing. It's also really dry (meh). Now, you can choose to indulge in the cake regardless — no big deal — but think of the risk/reward: is the "reward" of eating this meh cake worth the "risk" of feeling regret later? Or, if you actually do have a strict weight deadline for an event or competition, was it worth the risk of potentially setting yourself back? Moreover, did you really enjoy the cake?
If you answered yes, then you simply accept the consequences and move on. If not, then you still move on...to a better and way tastier-looking cake!
Everything carries a risk-to-reward ratio. It varies for everyone, but the decision to stray far away from your diet can carry a certain amount of risk:
- Losing control and binging
- Feeling anxious and guilt
- Losing motivation
- Feelings of failure and general emotional turmoil
- In extremely rare cases, temporary weight loss regression
You know yourself best; just be honest, using ideas of risk/reward, and avoid losing yourself in guilt, or worse, losing motivation.
Stephanie Lee is a geeky health and fitness freelance writer. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter or on her YouTube channel.