When I first begin to work on weight loss with a new client, they often come in with the erroneous notion that they’ll never be able to eat their favorite foods again. Sometimes, before their first appointment and the anticipation of eliminating pizza and ice cream forever, they go on a binge as a way to get it out of their system (or saturate their system, as the case may be).
They are happily surprised when I tell them I fully expect them to enjoy their favorite foods on occasion. We’re not robots after all, and it is impossible to expect anyone to suddenly eat like an angel overnight, forgoing their favorite meals forever. It is unrealistic and can set up a sabotaging dynamic in the brain. As the story of creation and the forbidden apple reminds us, we want what we can’t have.
Instead, I encourage my clients to strive for an 80 to 90% success rate. Meaning, try to eat great healthy food 80 to 90% of the time, allowing for certain indulgences. As long as you are doing well most of the time, your results will likely reflect your efforts.
I follow my own advice on this. On a day-to-day basis I stick with green drinks, salads, homemade soups and an enormous amount of vegetables. I reckon I eat somewhere in the vicinity of ten to twelve servings of vegetables a day which is fairly easy to do when you consider serving sizes. It’s not hard to eat a cup of broccoli with dinner, which delivers two servings of vegetable straight away. Of course, the key is to like broccoli.
But I AM a foodie at the end of the day and I love all kinds of good food. Whether it is the truffle pasta at Scalinatella’s that I savor twice a year with my friend Beth when we celebrate our birthdays, or the foods I enjoy on my travels, I definitely give myself some leeway from time to time. Life is about balance. And while I prefer eating nourishing, healthy foods the majority of the time because I love the way it makes me look and feel, I also enjoy the occasional indulgence, especially on the road.
A particular favorite is Fish& Chips, which I have once whenever I travel to England. I remove most of the batter because I can’t bring myself to eat all that grease (in my mind all I see is free-radical damage attacking my arteries). On this recent trip over, I had it again at a nice upscale pub so the quality was a little better and it was not quite as greasy, but still, it is far from health food.
Allowing yourself occasional diversions is a necessary part of your success. If you feel like you have to avoid something for the rest of your life, you are likely to want it and indulge it all the more.
The key is moderation. That does not mean having pizza once a week but rather once a month, or less. If I ate fish and chips once a week, I’d struggle with my weight for sure. Even once a month would be a lot. But knowing you can have a croissant when in Paris or an ice cream cone with your kids on a summer day, can go a long way towards helping you feel like you are enjoying some of your favorite foods while still achieving your health goals.
Another way I manage to enjoy some of my favorite foods while maintaining my commitments to my health, is coming up with healthy versions that I can have at home. This keeps my diet varied and interesting, which is important. The boredom that comes from eating the same meals repetitively is one of the biggest saboteurs to sustained healthy eating. It is important to enjoy your meals. It is also nice to get creative in the kitchen. See below for my healthy rendition of fish and chips. While it may not be exactly the same, it is definitely delicious and far healthier than the original.
What are some of YOUR favorite indulgences and how do you make room for them inside a healthy life? I’d love to hear how you’ve managed to include your favorite foods while still achieving your health goals. Or, if you are struggling to find balance, I’d love to hear about it below… I may have a suggestion that will help you find a way to bring it together.
Wishing you a great Monday and a happy Spring!
Healthy Fish and Chips
Rather than using flour and beer then deep-frying the cod, which is how traditional fish and chips are made, I used all-purpose gluten-free flour that I added herbs and spices to for enhanced flavor. I thought about baking it but knew that it would have greater flavor if I used a little grapeseed oil to lightly pan-fry it. I used fingerling potatoes for the chips, which came in a variety of colors. I tossed them with olive oil and Himalayan salt and baked them. They came out delicious. Give it a try and see what you think. It’s a nice healthy twist on one of my favorites… I even wrapped it in paper, just like it’s traditionally served in the UK.
- 2 Cod Fillets, cut into 1-inch strips
- 12-14 Fingerling potatoes, cut lengthwise in quarters (you can also use regular potatoes and cut them into French fry pieces)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt (plus a bit extra for potatoes)
- ¼ teaspoon peppercorns, ground into powder in mortar and pestle or just plain black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1-2 teaspoon olive oil
- Grapeseed oil or coconut oil for pan-frying
- Pre-heat oven to 350’
- Combine flour, herbs, salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
- Scramble egg in a bowl.
- Clean and cut potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, combine well so that the potatoes are very lightly coated in oil. Don’t use too much otherwise the potatoes will come out soggy.
- Place in oven at 350’ and bake for about 10 minutes.
- Place grapeseed oil in frying pan and heat.
- While the potatoes are baking, dip cod strips in egg and then drudge in flour mixture. Immediately place in hot pan with grapeseed oil. Cover for a minute to allow for the fish to cook through. Remove lid and then cook on one side until it starts to brown, then flip over and cook the other side. Repeat until all the cod is cooked. Allow cod to drain any excess oil on a paper-lined plate.
- Be mindful of the potatoes. Bake at 350 until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once they are done, crank the heat to broil for just a few seconds as they will quickly start to brown. Remove from oven when browned.
- Fold parchment paper into a cone and fold the bottom up to hold the contents inside. Place 3 cod fillets and some chips in cone and serve, or you can always serve it on a plate.
Serves 3 to 4 people.