How a Treat Affects Weight Loss

Ask yourself:

  1. What is your favourite treat and how often do you indulge in a treat?
  2. Do you ever supply others (kids, workmates, parents etc) with a treat?
  3. Is there someone who often tempts you with a treat?

Treats in the past were a food-based way to celebrate special occasions and were usually eaten in small amounts, like a small cup cake or a cookie or a packet of chips. Just one, and only for very special occasions.

These days we seem to confuse treats with snacks and it’s not unusual for many people to reward themselves (or even worse their children) with a daily treat (or two).

A snack is a small, healthy portion of nutritious food or drink that has the ideal ingredients (protein) to keep you satiated between meals. Ideally, a snack should contain protein, be lower in calories, sugar, fat and carbs and should not spike your blood sugar. Smart snacks can also help curb appetite to prevent overeating at the next meal. They can help provide extra nutrition if unable to eat full meals (i.e. due to an illness).

A treat on the other hand might include cookies, chips, soda, lollies, cakes – all high in sugar, calories and carbs with little or no nutritional value. Sugary snacks will cause blood sugar to spike followed shortly after by crashing and causing low blood sugar which then leads to increased hunger and fatigue. 

Excess calories from treats lead to weight gain, especially if they have a combination of processed carbs, sugar and fried in oil (eg: a doughnut). Regular treats consumption result in low nutrients but high calorie daily diet… A roller coaster of the worse kind.

A little sweet “treat” may be very tempting. However, if you are trying to lose weight, the guilt which often follows could be counterproductive. How do you normally feel after you have had a treat or two? 

On top of this, give some thought to how you might “undo” the damage. Even a small “treat” can affect your hormones and have a negative impact on your weight loss success. Increasing exercise for the next few days may make you feel better, and less bloated. 

Check out how much extra exercise you need to do to counter a treat:

It is worthwhile asking yourself why you feel the need to have a treat. Let’s explore some reasons why people find themselves having treats.

  1. Often used as a reward, perhaps you’ve had a busy day or week. Why not find a non-food option that gives you satisfaction for a job well done?
  2. If it has become a habit then find a new healthy habit, perhaps a walk around the block?
  3. Hunger or thirst can induce the need for a treat. Ensure a water bottle and pre-prepared protein snacks with you at all times.
  4. Hunger for something sweet or salty? This may be because you did not have a complete meal with adequate protein earlier, or perhaps you need to slightly increase your protein intake at each meal.
  5. Skipping meals because you’re busy and then finding you’re hungry before your next meal will often find you picking whatever is in the cupboard or fridge. Ensure your fridge and pantry are stocked with cold meats, cheese, Greek yoghurt, hard boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, and low carb fruits and vegetables to grab quickly.
  6. By not allowing snack foods into your home or office will mean they are not in easy reach and readily available.
  7. Distraction or boredom can result in mindless eating. If you find yourself going there, practice some breathing or meditation or remove yourself from your current environment.
  8. Emotional eating can be triggered by stress or feelings of sadness or loneliness. Call a friend or family member, take a walk outdoors, indulge in an activity like gardening or dancing to relieve built up tension.
  9. Are there certain times of the day that you find yourself snacking? If so, take a mental note and schedule an appointment or activity to keep yourself busy and engaged until the trigger goes away. Review the protein content of the previous main meal.
  10. Do you find some environments that look and smell good set you off to want a treat? Cakes, pastry and chocolate shops are some that come to mind. Never go there when you’re hungry, tired or stressed.
  11. Having a treat at a social function would be tempting for most people. You may also find that a particular friend or group of friends prompt you to eat too many treats. You may also find that you need someone else to blame if you overindulge. If this is you, then you probably need to find other ways besides eating to enjoy each other’s company. The likelihood of having a treat is higher if it is provided free.
  12. Procrastination or avoiding doing something or meeting a deadline can become a pathway to having a treat. Try a stretch, walk up and down stairs, meditate, walk around the block for 5-10 mins and then come back and get on with your work.

Too many treats can reduce natural hunger at mealtimes and cause skipping an entire nutritious meal, as well as increasing total calories for the day. 

At Dietflex we have a 1-2-3 rule when it comes to treats. 

  1. Having one treat a week may slow your weight loss, but you might still lose weight.
  2. Having two treats a week will probably stop your weight loss, and you may put on weight.
  3. Having three or more treats a week will increase your weight.

Besides weight loss and weight management, if you want or need to keep your blood sugar levels low, have better focus, mood and energy, feel satiated, and eat foods that fuel your body, then perhaps restricting, minimizing or eliminating treat foods and drinks may be what you need to do.

For more information or help with losing weight fill out the form below and one of our Dietflex Health Coaches will be in touch.

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