I, personally, am a firm believer in portion control as a sustainable way to not only lose weight but also maintain the weight you desire. Cutting out entire groups of foods never seems to work. Why? Because you won’t be able to cut them out forever. And the moment you are “allowed” to eat them again, you’ll go nuts on them because you’ve missed them so much! Concepts like cheat days and cleanses can be troubling because they involve completely eliminating certain items for a while. And any time we tip the scales too far in one direction, they always go flying back to the other side. I actually lost 20 pounds a few years ago. And I still ate all the things—from dairy to carbs to (dare I say it) sugar—while I was doing so. I just learned to cut portions. I also focused on foods that were satisfying because even a small amount boasted a lot of nutrition. Like these. Here are splurge foods that are actually healthy.
Cheese contains protein, calcium, and vitamin A, vitamin B12 (mood booster!), and even certain fats that can fight cancer. Parmesan, Feta, aged cheddar, cottage, low-skim mozzarella, and ricotta will give you all of those, but are on the lower end of the calorie spectrum for cheeses.
Pistachios can get a bad reputation because they’re the base ingredients of some foodie’s favorite ice cream. But they actually balance your blood sugar, helping fight off cravings for truly bad foods later. They also boost good gut bacteria for better digestion.
Don’t feel bad about buying that pricey little piece of meat—it’s high in protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and several important minerals. Just a one three to five-ounce serving of it a week can get you the benefits.
Okay, obviously we’ll cut the ice cream from it. But if you substitute in frozen bananas, and mix those with some milk, real sugar, and other fruit of your choosing, you’ll get protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and a whole other slew of nutrients that will keep you satisfied for hours.
Loaded baked potatoes
Stop choosing the garden salad as the side to your steak. You know you want the loaded baked potato, and that’s okay. Potatoes contain almost half of your daily need for vitamin C, they have more potassium than a banana, and they have fiber. Then there are the bacon bits, which actually have healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The chives boast antioxidants. Just skip the sour cream and opt for shredded cheese.
Whole grain bread is an important part of a diet. It has copper, zinc, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. You might be better off just getting the sandwich, rather than turning your favorite sandwich into a salad—the bread will help keep you full longer. Just make sure it’s whole grain.
Don’t remove the yolks every morning. If you make a three-egg omelet, leave in a yolk or a yolk and a half. The yolk has far more nutrients than the whites, like choline, which is critical for nerve, brain, and liver function.
Full fat yogurt
Swap in full-fat yogurt from time to time. It’s far more satiating than low-fat yogurt, and can keep you full longer. In fact, the full fat delays your body’s absorption of sugar, which can keep your blood sugar balanced.
Did you know that coconut oil converts bad cholesterol into good cholesterol? It also contains the type of fat that is very satisfying, so a little can go a long way. Plus, it boosts memory and brain function and protects your organs.
Need to add whole grains to your lunch but out of brown rice? Pop some popcorn. It’s loaded with fiber that regulates digestion, lowers cholesterol, and controls blood sugar. It also contains vitamin E, which acts like an antioxidant.
When it comes to pasta, the same rule applies that we find with bread: choose whole grain varieties. Spelt, brown rice, quinoa, kamut, and buckwheat are all great options, and some of those are even gluten-free. They’ll let you eat spaghetti and meatballs, while getting extra fiber and protein, plus plenty of minerals.
Before you get too excited, you’ll obviously need to consume this item in moderation. But beer actually contains probiotics, which can boost your digestive system. One study even found that regular beer consumption can improve cholesterol.
Dried fruit is high in sugar, but it’s also an easy way to consume tons of fiber in one sitting, and that fiber will slow your body’s absorption of the sugar. You can opt for lower sugar dried fruits like dried cranberries, apricots, and dates.
Let’s stop shaming butter—it can be good for you, when it comes from grass-fed cows. In fact, that’s why it’s a main ingredient in the oh-so-popular bulletproof coffee. It’s much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and K2 (helps with healthy blood clotting and developing healthy bones) than non-grass-fed butter.
Drizzle some honey over your bowl of fruit or full-fat yogurt. It’s antibacterial, antifungal, can ease gastrointestinal disorders, and is high in antioxidants.