If you believe that "bad" foods should be totally eliminated from your diet, then a new research paper under review for publication will make your day.
The authors reveal that playing with the portions of good and not-so-good-for-you foods is better than trying to eliminate bad foods all together. The focus, however, should be on lowering the portion of the “vice” foods and correspondingly raising the portion of a healthy food to replace it—doing so will still satisfy your craving (and could save you calories).
After four experiments, the researchers concluded that people consistently prefer vice-virtue bundles with small (one-quarter) to medium (half) proportions of vice rather than pairings with large (three-quarters) proportions of vice. So for example, if a vice-virtue bundle was made up of fries and slices of apple, it might take a small or very small serving of fries to satiate the need for the vice food.
According to a press release, "vice-virtue bundles could also be the answer for many in the food service industry who are actively seeking out healthy food options that consumers will voluntarily choose." I couldn't agree more. But in the meanwhile, and in case that never happens, there are many ways to incorporate this way of eating in our everyday lives. This is what I do personally, and I’ve found my patients to be successful with as well.
Want French fries? Pair some with an egg-white omelet with lots of veggies and feta cheese. Obviously skip the toast and home fries.
Crave pizza? Enjoy one slice topped with lots of vegetables plus a side salad.
Need a chocolate fix? Grab a miniature Hershey's dark chocolate and almond square and enjoy with your well-rounded lunch.
Nothing will do but a burger? Lose the fries with that and pile extra veggies high on your plate.
Mini donuts calling your name for dessert? Select one donut and combine with a fruit plate.
The trick is to figure out which less-healthy foods you enjoy and then how to turn them a little healthier. We all know by now that deprivation never works—and if we don't have some vice in our lives, what's the point?