Learning how to enjoy a treat while tracking macros (better yet, having treats regularly built into your nutrition program) can be the difference between sticking with a plan that works long-term and giving up.
Many clients come to Working Against Gravity with black-and-white mindsets concerning the foods they eat.
Veggies, chicken, and rice? Good.
Brownies and ice cream? Bad.
These mindsets can lead to overeating, guilt around food, and ultimately, a plan that works for a while but feels impossible to follow long-term.
Our coaches are big believers in focusing on whole, healthy foods most of the time. But we also believe that there is no such thing as “good” food or “bad” food and that there is a time and place for a treat.
Today, we’re sharing a few tips for planning treats into your macros so you can have your cake and eat it too—literally.
How to Enjoying A Treat While Counting Macros
Freedom through structure is one of the many things that many WAG members discover as they begin counting macros.
Aiming for specific targets by the end of the day gives you the freedom, flexibility, awareness, and empowerment to fill those targets with foods that serve your goals. It’s common to wonder, “if my main goal is weight loss or performance gains, how could higher-calorie, sugary foods get me there?”
But, the key to maintaining lower body fat percentages, improving athletic performance, or building healthier habits is following a plan you can stick to. And I don’t know about you, but a nutrition plan without a little something sweet or the ability to work in a few drinks with friends is definitely not realistic for most of us.
1. Shift Your Mindset
The first step to enjoying a treat (I mean actually enjoying it, guilt-free!) is shifting your mindset away from looking at foods as “good” or “bad.” Why? Because this dichotomous thought pattern often brings morality into play.
If you’ve ever thought something like, “I was so good today,” or “I was so bad over the weekend,” when referring to food choices, this is exactly what we’re talking about.
When you view foods as “good” or “bad,” you automatically set yourself up to go overboard on the foods you wouldn’t eat when you’re “being good” after you’ve made a “bad” choice.
You know what I mean—“Well, I’m already being bad, so I may as well go for it.”
These conversations and thought patterns equate the foods you choose with the kind of person you are. Once you’ve started to think about yourself as a bad person (or “not good enough”), it is easy to slip into unconscious choices perpetuating that belief. Whether it is continuing to eat foods that don’t serve your goals, skipping the gym, or ignoring other healthy habits, when you think of yourself as “bad” because of your food choices, it takes away future healthy choices you would otherwise make.
Instead, we recommend thinking about foods as “effective” or “ineffective” to get you closer to your goal for a particular situation. Learn more about how to implement that mindset here.
2. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is the best way to ensure you enjoy a treat within macro targets. Is there a time and place not to worry about fitting a treat into targets? For sure (hello holidays, and other special occasions).
But, most treats and occasions can be easily accounted for and enjoyed within macro targets or a nutrition plan, so you can be sure that you're also working towards your goals as you enjoy that drink or dessert.
We recommend planning a full day of eating ahead of time as much as possible. If you want to allocate future macros to something higher in carbs and fats, at least plan that food into your day before breakfast. If you’re not 100% sure of portion sizes yet, overestimate and leave yourself a little wiggle room.
Planning your treat ensures those macros are accounted for, and you’re not left scrambling at the end of the day.
If you want to plan a few drinks, ensure you know how to track alcohol correctly and the different ways to make your drink more macro-friendly. Our free Alcohol Course will teach you how.
3. Go Macro-Friendly
If you’re working with lower macros during a cut, you may find some treats that you can fit into your plan, but take up so many macros, you’d be left super hungry throughout the rest of the day.
You can mitigate this a bit by focusing on high-fiber, high-protein options. But there comes a point when allocating a solid chunk of calories to sweets doesn’t serve you or your goals and will likely send you into a hunger spiral.
If this is the case, make your dessert more macro-friendly. We have tons of yummy recipes you can try. This allows you to satisfy your sweet tooth without the calorie hit. If you’re going to an event or get-together, bring some to share! This way, you can head into a situation confident that there is something there you can enjoy without leaving yourself with very few macros to play with throughout the rest of your day.
Pro tip: Plan a macro-friendly treat into your routine regularly (read: every day if you want one!). The less “special” and more “normal” a treat feels, the less likely you are to go overboard when they’re around, and the easier it will be to stay out of an all-or-nothing mindset.
4. Chat with Your Coach
I know—I said there were only three tips, but here is a bonus: enroll a nutrition coach in your goals.
If you’re sick of yo-yo dieting, food guilt, and wondering what to eat to finally reach your goals, expert advice could be the difference between enjoying the foods you love while working towards your health goals or staying on the hamster wheel of restriction, overeating guilt, and more restriction.
At the end of the day, there are nuances to every situation based on your goals, body, and the specific situation you’re heading into.
With weekly check-ins, unlimited messages, video calls, personalized meal plans, and unparalleled data tracking, our coaches will help you take the guesswork out of your nutrition and head into any situation confident in what actions are needed to keep you on the right track.