If you're still fighting the battle of the bulge, indulge!
But splurge on quality, not quantity.
Whether you're preventing weight gain, maintaining a recent weight loss, or trying to knock off a few extra pounds, you're going to need an eating plan satisfying and nutritious enough to keep up through the years to come.
Often, dieters condemn themselves to a limited number of lowest calorie or lowest cost choices until boredom and deprivation blow the program. How sad!
If you have a weight problem, you're going to have to manage your food choices forever.
A plan of habitual, sumptuous indulgence within your biological budget can help you live contentedly within your limitations for years to come.
My daughter Cathy once saved her weight management program by eating a whole pint of strawberries all by herself. What a luscious indulgence for only 90 calories! She could hardly wipe the grin off her face when she realized she didn't have to share or feel guilty.
Last winter, I shared fresh-from-the-orchard Winesap apples with friends. Those crunchy, delicious wonders actually triggered family feuds over who got the last apple and who had to settle for cookies! As summer warms, tree-ripened peaches and field-ripened melons will beckon from local orchards and roadside stands. Give in.
And what about bread?
Why settle for cardboard-tasting diet bread when you can enjoy hearty, satisfying whole grain breads fresh from the bakery? Afraid to keep a whole loaf around? Just buy one or two rolls for pre-arranged portion control.
Portion-controlled indulgence helps your pocketbook, too.
A friend recently thwarted a binge by indulging in some amazingly fresh and juicy red raspberries. She felt guilty about paying $3 for a half-pint of berries, though. Then she realized they cost less than the box of chocolates she'd been eyeing.
This same clever woman also noted that fresh salmon, on sale at $6 a pound, costs only $1.50 per 4-ounce portion. It's a great relief from tuna with mayo, and much less expensive than a restaurant meal.
Four large shrimp or scallops on a big pile of pasta work the same kind of magic.
For the ultimate in indulgence, try boutique grocery shopping at the farmers' market, seafood outlet, an orchard or a bakery. Get the best. But do it with an eye toward portion control. (And don't forget to eat before you shop!)
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.