When it comes to food we are often faced with the devil or the angel.
We're often tempted by the food that's bad for us when we know we should be eating something healthy.
For instance, think about all the negotiating you do with yourself: calculating the treadmill time required to work off a slice of pizza or weighing the evils of trans fats against your overwhelming desire to down a giant piece of cake. The fact is, no matter how persuasive the diet angel on your shoulder is, too often the devil whispering "Mmm, cookies" in your other ear wins out.
And sometimes that's OK. TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer says eating healthy is not about being perfect 100 percent of the time; it's about eating your best most of the day.
The USDA's food pyramid allows for everyday treats: Women younger than 30 years old are free to use 265 calories of their total daily calories on any "bad" food they want.
So the next time you're tempted, tune in to both your inner angel and devil, and then follow your own path. Here are some tips from the April issue of SELF magazine:
Diet dilemma #1 You need to grab a quick breakfast.
The devil says "Look-it's Dunkin' Donuts! It's fast and tastes great, and the sugar will give you an energy buzz. Plus you love the Coolatta.
The angel says "Keep driving; you can do it! Swing by a deli for fruit and lowfat yogurt. The calcium and vitamins will help you start your day off right."
The voice of reason says "A doughnut would taste delicious, but you'll regret it an hour from now when your blood sugar takes a dive and you crash face-first into the keyboard."
The solution — go to Duncan Donuts, BUT, grab a plain whole wheat bagel and skim latte. At least you get the whole grains plus protein and calcium for the latte.
Diet dilemma #2 Finding a healthy lunch at the diner or company cafeteria
The devil says "Ah, the smell of the french fries, AND the lure of the tuna melt. It's been a tough morning, and dinner is a long way off, so you'd better fill up now."
The angel says "I'm sure you'll make a healthy choice because you know that weight gain can increase your risk for a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and maybe even cancer. So march straight to the salad bar and load up on leafy greens with fat-free dressing."
The voice of reason says "The last time you had only a salad for lunch, you were looting the Snickers stash by 3 p.m. Order the salad, but add a few pieces of grilled chicken (or other lean source of protein such as beans or salmon) and a low-cal dressing (or heavy on the balsamic vinegar and light on the olive oil)..THEN request HALF ORDER of French Fries.
Diet dilemma #3: An office birthday party
The devil says "Yay! Cupcakes from your favorite bakery!"
The angel says "Yesterday was someone else's birthday, tomorrow's a baby shower and next week we will celebrate when the copy machine gets fixed. There's always going to be a reason to chow down on cupcakes. Join the party, but stand by the veggie platter or chat with pals instead of gobbling the goodies. Your pride in passing up temptation will more than make up for the momentary thrill of indulging."
The voice of reason says "These cupcakes are your favorite, and you don't eat them very often. Why don't you split one with a coworker and skip sweets for the rest of the day?" Deciding to spend your daily treat calories on something you love makes sense. Before you splurge, have a two-second dialogue with yourself, asking if it's worth giving up other indulgences for. If the answer is a resounding yes, go ahead and enjoy without any guilt.
Diet dilemma #4: A night out on the town
You got a babysitter and you and your husband are trying a new restaurant with friends!
The devil says "All bets are off! Get the foie gras, a porterhouse steak and dessert, and don't leave any leftovers."
The angel says "Hey, remember how hard you worked at the gym this week? Why ruin it all with one meal? Order a salad and grilled fish, and savor fresh fruit for dessert for dessert."
The voice of reason says: Order the entrée you WANT … but skip the bread beforehand… and enjoy fresh fruit after. On the other hand, if the bread and dessert are more appealing…. Eat one slice bread and order the dessert of choice - but stick with grilled fish and vegetables for the entrée.
Diet dilemma #5 You love to nibble while you're watching television
The devil says "You've eaten so healthfully all day, you deserve a tasty reward. Besides, those American Idol finalists sound so much sweeter with a big bowl of ice cream."
The angel says "Forget it. Finish the day on a wholesome high note by snacking on 1/2 cup of grapes."
The voice of reason says: I like volumes of snacky food while watching TV… so I'll go for one ice cream pop and a large bowl of air popped popcorn (or microwave light popcorn) . Obviously, veggies are a BONUS.
For more information on healthy eating, visit TODAY nutrition expert, Joy Bauer’s website (and check out her new book Joy Bauer’s Food Cures) at www.joybauernutrition.com