It's so easy to say YES!
Go ahead and supersize my drink. Make that a cheeseburger, please. Whipped cream? Of course. I've already blown it, so I might as well go for it.
Adding these extras to your food choice makes as much sense as getting to the checkout at the department store and saying, "I've already blown my budget, so please throw in a few more outfits."
Don't get me wrong. I don't think we have to live on skinless chicken breast and steamed broccoli every day. There's certainly a place for being flexible with your eating plan and enjoying yummy-tasting foods. But if you're going to sacrifice your calorie budget, make sure you get something out of it.
Every fall, pumpkin shows up in everything. We have pumpkin coffee drinks, pumpkin ravioli, and pumpkin cheesecake. But besides pie, my favorite pumpkin-flavored food is at breakfast. It's pumpkin pancakes.
I don't make them at home, but I always know which restaurants have the best ones.. The only problem I have with them is that I cover them with a LOT of syrup, which pushes the sugar and calorie levels way up.
Syrup is only one of those easy "add-ons" that seems so natural yet does a lot of damage to my goals. So I've realized it's time to evaluate how I handle pumpkin pancakes. So I've been figuring how much I can actually taste the syrup.
Those little extras that make the food seem better are fine, as long as you can actually taste them. But lots of things such as nuts, cheese, and salad toppings add tons of extra calories without actually improving the flavor. They simply get lost in the food and your taste buds never get a chance to appreciate them.
If you can't taste it, skip it.
When you decide to have ice cream or favorite foods such as pumpkin pancakes, look for ways to get what you want without running up the bill. Don't add calories that get lost in the food dish. If you can't taste your add-ons, consider leaving them off.
Here are a couple of sneaky tricks for staying on your calorie budget at the same time you enjoy great foods.
• Ice cream
Think about what you want in your mouth. The sensation of something cold? A spoonful of smooth and sweet? Ability to crunch and chew? Then look for how you can get exactly what you want without spending extra on what you don't need.
• No cheeseburger
Here's something interesting. Researchers blindfolded people, then had them taste loaded burgers that were identical except for the addition of a slice of cheese. Almost without exception, the tasters could not figure out which hamburger contained the cheese. The taste was completely hidden by the flavors and textures of everything else on the burger.
Any time you add cheese to a sandwich, hamburger, salad, or even a casserole, pay attention to whether you can find it back. Unless you are sure you can actually taste and appreciate it, skip the cheese.
• Disappearing syrup
I've always been amazed at how pancakes not only soak up the syrup I pour over them - they make it evaporate into the air. So I would add more, and later, still more, just to taste the sweetness I want on my pancake.
I finally learned to pour a couple tablespoons of syrup on my plate and dip the bites into it. What a great calorie savings that was.
You already know how to put dressing on the side rather than dumping it on top of your salad. Build the habit of doing the same thing with syrup or any kind of special sauces for vegetables, meat or pasta. You'll still get the taste but eat a lot fewer calories.
Managing your weight doesn't mean you have to be totally rigid or boring with your food. But any time you add an extra flavor or item to your food, make sure you're getting your taste's worth. If you can't tell it's there, you didn't need it.