Shorts, sunshine, fireworks, and beaches. There’s a lot to love about summertime.
Unless we stress too much about summer food temptations. Yes, barbecues mean hot dogs and potato chips. The heat makes you reach for ice cream. And with all those social outings, there’s bound to be some (or a lot of) alcohol involved.
So what’s the secret to resisting these temptations?
You don’t. Just enjoy them!
Because depriving yourself can actually be harmful.
Here are 4 reasons why you should just live it up this 4th of July:
1 - Deciding something's off limits just makes you want it more
We all know that telling someone to stop thinking about something, like cake, brings cake to mind immediately and makes it more important than it actually is. Suddenly there's tension in your brain, knowing you want it but can't have it. Especially when it’s all around you on everyone else’s plates. Each piece in your line of vision is a reminder and contributes to a sense of scarcity. Which can only be removed if you eat cake. It's a dangerous cycle, because...
2 - Wanting something badly can lead to bingeing
Every time you see someone with that cake, you have to make a decision to say "No" in the executive control center of your brain. That requires you to use up a portion of the willpower you have left for the day. It's not infinite and becomes harder to use as the day goes on. After enough of these decisions, your willpower becomes weaker than your desire for cake and 99% of the time you give in before the end of the party. But instead of savoring one small piece, you don’t care anymore. Since you’re being “bad” anyways, you scarf down three slices until you feel sick from all that frosting.
3 - Your body will bounce back once you're back to your regular routine
How you look and feel overall isn’t determined by one party. It isn’t even determined by that piece of chocolate or glass of wine you have after dinner. It’s determined by how you eat 80% of the time. Those little treats all balance out when you’re fueling your body with clean proteins, vegetables and fruits most of the time. The hypothalamus portion of your brain has a "set point" it likes your weight to be at, so if you eat a little extra one day, you'll automatically want to eat a little less over the rest of the week. Even if you feel a little bloated or sluggish the next day because you went a little overboard, that’s okay. Your body will course correct once you’re back to a healthy routine.
4 - You don't need to cling to extremes to love yourself
Deep down, you know the reason why you’re eating that cake (or any treat). There’s a big difference in intention when you’re celebrating vs pushing down feelings of sadness or emptiness vs reacting in frustration. When you look openly and honestly at that intention and act from a place of self-love, it’s easier to make choices that will lead to the best version of you. Without forcing yourself to follow extremes. That might come in the form of eating your leafy greens, or going for a run, or bonding with friends during the holidays over some goodies. They all add up to your health and happiness. Even if they don’t always look it on the surface.
So don’t be afraid to indulge in your favorite foods this 4th of July! Just get back into your healthy routine on July 5th.