Whether in person or via weekly check-ins a common question asked by nutrition clients is Òcan I eat [insert food here]?Ó Now the food theyÕre usually asking about is not a fruit, vegetable or grain. The food in question is usually something to the effect of: pizza, cake, donuts…etc. The simple answer is Ôit dependsÕ.
LetÕs dive a bit deeper to find out why it depends and what can contribute to the ultimate answer. First off, it depends on how much weÕre talking about. Are they having a small piece of cake to commemorate something special or are they devouring a 12-slice stuffed crust pizza all by themselves? Big difference, right?! Similarly, how often is this happening? Once every few months? Once a week? Every day? Obviously the smaller, less frequent answers to the questions are going to be more favorable!
It can also depend on the individualÕs goals. If their goal is to drop a significant amount of weight, maintain a low percentage of body fat, or even perform at a high level this may not be the proper nutrition for them (once again depending on the frequency of eating the food in question). These individuals see the best results sticking to their proper diet/macros (read more about the macro factor below) especially if they are new to it all (i.e. aiming to drop significant weight).
Perhaps the most important, how does it affect their macros? For those familiar with nutrition coaching, it often comes down to macro counting. A pain for some, a game/fun challenge for others. Working with macros gives the individual an accurate amount of food that they should be eating to reach their goal. If an individual wants to lose weight, using the macros allows them to see how much they are eating and prevents them from overeating and gaining weight.
Once they get familiar with using their macros, they can use them to their advantage. One will learn that if they know they are going to an event with a celebratory cake or an evening with some wine they can plan for it. This would be done by eating a lesser amount during the day and leaving room within their macros for the treat to be had later. When all is said and done, they shouldnÕt break their macros and theyÕll be able to enjoy the treat. However they may not feel as full.
This certainly does not mean that you should starve yourself and then indulge. These treats are often seen asÊ Ôempty caloriesÕ withÊ little nutritional value that may not provide you with the feeling of fullness that other healthier options offer. That being said if itÕs a special occasion and you can fit it into your macros, then go ahead. Life is short, eat the cake!
If you have any specific questions, please reach out to a nutrition coach today!