'Setting our focus on what we shouldn't eat only sets us up for failure,' says Cracker Barrel Chef Bill Kintzler. 'Cutting out and depriving ourselves shifts our focus from the positive choices we should be making, including choosing foods that are satisfying.'
Ways to add in and win
Managing calories and less-than-healthy food choices makes sense. But if you think food has to lack taste, enticing texture and overall appeal to be 'better for you,' you're simply incorrect. Ultimately, if your diet is unsatisfying, disappointing and just doesn't taste good, you won't be able to stick with it.
Instead of emphasizing what you'll leave out and resigning yourself to bland food, think of ways to add to the appeal and taste of what you eat. For example, if you rely on breakfast smoothies to help you reduce your caloric intake during the day, be sure to add items that include fiber - such as a handful of spinach or kale.
Reducing the amount of salt in your diet? Turn to other seasonings that don't add calories, but can enhance food's flavor and that deliver other benefits. For example, cinnamon adds a warm, homey flavor to dishes.
Marinades and spice blends can be a great way to add flavor to meats, fish and even veggies without adding fat, calories or salt. And replace high-calorie toppings with fresh fruit, which adds flavor to everything from pancakes to plain yogurt.
Don't feel left out when you dine out
Many people trying to eat well assume they can't eat out at all. While you may have to give up your favorite food options in favor of ones that have lower calorie counts or smaller portions, abandoning some of your eating out isn't an option for many people.
Instead, make dining-out choices that maximize the satisfaction of the experience. For example, the new Wholesome Fixin's meals at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store are fun and flavorful with calorie counts that can fit into your daily dietary goals. The meals deliver the value, taste and quality that guests expect from Cracker Barrel with better-for-you ingredients that are lower in calories. The foods emphasize more choices and flavors with fewer calories; all breakfast options are less than 500 calories, lunch and dinner less than 600.
'Wholesome Fixin's are a great example of balancing calorie count with satisfaction,' says Kintzler. 'Each menu item is not only lower in calories but also is high-quality.'
Whenever you dine out, look for options with calorie information - many restaurants have added this to their menus. Eating quality foods is even more important when you've reduced your calorie intake.
'Just cutting calories is not enough,' Kintzler says. 'Food is simply food. Setting our focus on what we shouldn't do, what we shouldn't eat, sets us up for failure. We should start thinking about what we can do, instead of obsessing over what we shouldn't.'