The word diet is indeed a four-letter word – one that brings to mind restriction for most people. “Diet” earned its bad rap because the majority of fad diets are all about what you can’t do: no eating carbs, no sweets, no going over 1,500 calories, and so on. While these rule-riddled diets can produce short-term weight loss, they have by and large proven ineffective over the long haul.
Why don’t highly restrictive diets last? Long story short, most people simply can’t maintain that level of restriction. Highly restrictive diets can also mean you don’t get the variety of nutrients your body needs.
It’s all About Balance
Putting the word “balanced” in front of diet changes everything. A balanced diet leaves room for a variety of foods, including your favorites. By eating a balanced diet, eating when you’re actually hungry and giving into your cravings with moderation, you can maintain a healthy weight, mind and body over the long haul – and actually enjoy yourself doing it!
In fact, studies have even proven that some favorite indulgences like alcohol and chocolate have bona fide health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
A Drink A Day …
Multiple studies have shown that moderate drinking, i.e. one glass a day of wine or beer, can provide cardiovascular benefits. Moderate drinkers may also be at less risk for type 2 diabetes and gallstones.
Worried about the calories found in a glass of alcohol? Studies have also shown that people who drink a glass a day don’t tend to gain more weight than those who abstain completely. All of this isn’t a reason to start drinking, but for those who enjoy a glass of wine or beer with dinner, that glass just may be part of a balanced diet instead of a sinful pleasure.
Let Them Eat Chocolate
While people will likely enjoy chocolate regardless, studies have taken some of the guilt away from this tasty treat by proving it also has health benefits:
- Chocolate can be high in magnesium, phosphorus and antioxidants.
- Chocolate contains plant flavonoids, which have powerful benefits that can improve the function and flow of blood vessels.
- Dark chocolate has a more concentrated cocoa content and is therefore higher in flavonoids than other types of chocolate.
- While chocolate is high in saturated fat, much of that fat comes from stearic acid, which doesn’t raise “bad” cholesterol.
- The British Medical Journal published a review of seven different chocolate studies. The results showed that people who consumed the most chocolate were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease or suffer from a stroke.
These studies are good news for chocolate lovers, but as with alcohol, it’s all about moderation. Chocolate is still high in calories; therefore, it’s a good idea to eat it in small amounts, leaving plenty of room for fruits, veggies, whole grains and low fat proteins.
Find Your Sweet Spot
Discuss your particular diet and health needs with your doctor. Together, the two of you can outline a balanced diet that you will enjoy long-term – one that tastes good and leaves you feeling great!