Moderation Vs Giving It Up Entirely

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When people think of diets, it often conjures up the image of restraining oneself from the cookie jar, your child's left over pizza or that box of chocolates your co-workers left carelessly open on the office desk. 

I can't say I've ever been one for self punishment and deprivation. I'd rather have my cake and lose weight too. In fact, I did just that. 

The reason I get away with a few Belgian chocolates here, a slice of birthday cake there, a meal out which includes chips and even a celebratory chocolate sundae once in while, is simply because I moderate rather than give them up entirely. I know that if I vowed never to touch such heavenly delights again, I'd feel deprived, punished and at some point, I would cave in and devour the whole of Cadbury World. Actually, speaking of Cadbury World, I've even visited it during my weight loss... I know, I never have been someone who sticks to the rules of dieting. 

As you can tell, chocolate and all manner of foods relating to it, is not something I ever have, or will give up. It's one of the reasons my face is so confused when someone says to me "Oh, you're eating a chocolate sundae... aren't you on a diet?" (I've never said to anyone that I was on a diet). I'll just add in here that the reason everyone sees me eating fancy chocolate desserts or chips when I'm out is because I don't eat them at home! 90% of the time I stick to portion controlled meals with a clever balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (yes, I eat them too). I'm simply not going to order salad or fruit at the pub when I could have had that at home for a lot less money. 

I'm a big fan of moderation, as I've never considered myself to be on some temporary diet but rather a lifestyle overhaul. It makes life a lot more enjoyable than I imagine a life without chocolate or cake would be. As a consequence, the changes I've made to my lifestyle can be sustained for life and my weight loss can be maintained too.

This is not to say that I haven't shunned some food and drink items out of my lifestyle completely. Moderation wouldn't have worked for me with some particular food items because, quite frankly, I didn't enjoy their side effects one way or another. Here's the complete list of things I've given up and why:

1) Alcohol. Yes. What a weird student I am. I don't drink! If I was to have an alcoholic drink, it would be red wine, for it's healthful benefits when consumed in moderation. However, I don't much like the taste of most alcohol to be completely honest, or it's empty calorific content for that matter. I only ever necked it back because it came under the social convention of being a teenager. I thought I'd be ostracised if I became teetotal. Every spotty, geeky teenager just wants to fit in, don't they? Well, I realised in my twenties that I don't actually give two cents for the opinions of onlooker's and quit it anyway.

2) Takeaway pizza.  Heart burn, expense, incredibly oversized and a really bland taste compared to the pizza served in Italian restaurants. I'll even make my own if I'm not heading off to the restaurant. 

3) Trips to the bakery. Heart burn (again), but also so many calories for such a tiny sausage roll! To satisfy my savoury pangs I now cook a lasagne, served with undressed salad, for the same amount of calories as the two sausage rolls I used to buy during in my lunch break. It's a lot more filling and I like to eat lots of food for my calories. If I happen to have a pastry craving, I'll even make a very quick and simply, puff pastry tart

4) Trips to the chip shop. Ugh, the grease, I can't stomach it. I love chips though, so I will happily eat pub chips with a meal. Occasionally I'll even order fish and chips with peas or salad, just for the sake of reminiscing about my childhood favourite food. 

5) Fizzy drinks. In fact, all drinks that aren't water or fruit juice! I'm aware this sounds a little extreme, weirdly it's the one that gets the most stunned response. I have no reasons for giving them up. Firstly, I could feel myself becoming addicted to the sugar content in fizzy drinks (I never have liked the diet versions). The caffeine and sugar used to trigger horrific migraines (think nosebleeds and sickness), so I cut down drastically. Eventually, after weaning myself off them, I've given them up entirely for my second reason; I'd sooner eat all of my day's calories as drinks don't fill me up.

So there we have it. The full list of things I've given up in the quest for better health. Just five things, three of which I found alternatives for. I'm hoping this illustrates to any of you wondering how you'll get through the rest of your diet without pasta or cake, that losing weight does not have to be 'all or nothing', but instead a system of moderation and alternatives. The key to weight loss is simply finding the balance between calories in and calories out, so there's still a small space in your healthy life for your favourites, whatever they may be. 

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