This story originally appeared on RedbookMag.com.
It really is all about a healthy balance.
A series of studies conducted at Vanderbilt University asked participants to choose different proportions of vice (less nutritious foods like Oreos and potato chips) and virtue (healthier foods like apples and baby carrots) in snacks. People tended to go with a mixture, but what they chose depended on their diet habits.
Those who had more of an appetite for vice to begin with tended to opt for half-vice, half-virtue. Those who loved vice but had the willpower to choose virtue went with one-quarter vice, three-quarters virtue. People who genuinely loved healthier food also went with that proportion, often because they preferred the variety. When given the chance to mix vice and virtue, those who would normally gravitate to junk chose a mixture, thus opting for a healthier snack. So if you have a tough time picking a spinach salad over a piece of steak, have a little bit of boththat way youre getting a tasty treat while cutting calories.
Lead author Kelly L. Haws attributes the findings to a taste-health balance point at which people feel satisfied. Her study shows that switching to bundles of vice and virtue can lead to eating way fewer calories in the long run. For example, if you switched from a weekly medium order of fries at McDonalds (380 calories) to half fries (190 calories) and half a side salad (10 calories), youd likely lose weight in the long term.
Restricting all vice from your diet wont do you any good, either; previous studies show ignoring cravings just makes you overeat once you finally give in. So whether it be French fries, ice cream or wine that you enjoy, go ahead and eat them. Just allow yourself to savor the kale, too.
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