Lose Weight By Indulging in Food

By Jim F

It seems odd to use the word “indulge” on a blog about diets. Developing a healthy relationship with food is critical if you wish to avoid falling into disordered or harmful patterns of eating.

However… asking some people to simply moderate their intake of certain foods is akin to asking the alcoholic to take only take one sip from their glass.

Here are 6 steps to help you enjoy your food and diet.

  1. Write down a list of the foods and beverages that give you the greatest pleasure.
  2. Review your list and put a + (plus) next to those items that are easy for you to consciously indulge in.
  3. Next put a ?- (minus) next to those foods that you tend to overeat and that challenge you in limiting your portions.
  4. For those items with a ?- (minus) come up with creative ways you can enjoy what gives you pleasure in conscious amounts. Aim for around 100 calorie servings. For example, you could break a favorite chocolate bar into small squares and wrap them individually in foil. Then put them out of sight and have just one a day.
  5. Finally, put an X next to those items that you tend to compulsively or addictively overeat.
  6. Decide how you will handle the items with an X next to them. Probably it will be best not to have these foods in the house. It may be best just to cross them off your list entirely and abstain completely from them.

Many thanks to Haven Logan, who outlines these points in her short PDF Living a Healthy Life. Used with permission.


  1. Katie

    After having been in a period of cycling between over-indulgence and perhaps too zealous compensation, I’ve decided that the only thing that will work for me, as others have posted, is to not allow myself to have access to things that I will compulsively overeat. For me, one of these is natural cashew-macadamia nut butter that is just ground cashews and macadamia nuts, nothing else; I can sit down and eat an entire jar because it tastes so darn good.

    But that for other things that can’t just be avoided forever in all practicality, like bread or dried fruit, I’ve started asking myself if I’m really enjoying that next fig, raisin, or slice of bread I’m going to put in my mouth. Often, I’ve found that I won’t. Combining that with remembering just how far I’ve come since I lost weight seems to be helping me, because I do not want to go back to the way I was before.

  2. Laura

    The first challenge is figuring out the difference between true “pleasure” and whatever emotional gratification you receive from the food. That’s where I am right now. Any suggestions?

  3. Deborah

    I agree with Susan that setting food up as forbidden or scary is a tight rope to walk and requires constant vigilance. I have tried cutting things out completely as well but eventually I run into it and have this huge battle within myself that does not feel good. I think this just perpetuates the deprivation thinking. I have now changed my approach and tell myself I can have what ever I want when ever I want it. I know it sounds weird and contradictory but it has REALLY taken the pressure off. Now when I walk into starbucks and see all the sweets I think…I could have that if I want and it actually makes me feel better. I don’t feel that OHHH I WANT that SOOOO BADLY but I CAN”T have it desperation. I feel… I can have it but chose not to right now. Sometime I choose to have it and ENJOY it completely without beating myself up. Food is meant to be enjoyed. I think it is this idea that we have to be controlled and disciplined that makes us feel out of control and scared.

  4. Spectra

    I’ve found that after I got rid of all the junk in my diet (at the beginning, I had to do that just to break my cravings for it), I really didn’t even want it back in my diet anymore and I didn’t crave it. For stuff that I do like and do tend to overindulge in, I’ve gotten creative. I LOVE ice cream and instead of filling a cereal bowl full of fat free ice cream (WAY more than a serving, lol), I just buy ice cream sandwiches or ice cream bars. The portion is already measured out, so I know exactly how many calories I’m eating. I also love chocolate, so I buy dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses and count out 4 or 5 of them when I want a treat. It’s amazing though…I can easily go to a family picnic where there is a ton of decadent desserts and I’m not really tempted to eat them. I just like the healthy stuff more, I guess.

  5. Jim

    E. said:
    I ended up buying Lindt 99% dark chocolate bars […]

    Wow. I’ve only ever found the 85% ones. But that is one food that I will take a single square of chocolate and really take my time to eat.

    susan said:
    I used to be “good” until confronted with a fabulous buffet or something similar. Then I’d experience “what the heck” thinking and lose all sense –and overeat to overfull. CBT realllly helped change my thinking.[…]

    All-you-can-eat buffets are awful places. However sometimes – particularly on large family outings – that is the place where people go. I’m glad you’ve found an answer with Cognitive Behavior Therapy – I believe that if you can get the right counselor for you – it can be very helpful indeed.

  6. susan

    I used to think the way a previous poster did. The problem is that you can’t run away from “the bad stuff” forever. I used to be “good” until confronted with a fabulous buffet or something similar. Then I’d experience “what the heck” thinking and lose all sense –and overeat to overfull. CBT realllly helped change my thinking.

    When food isn’t a forbidden thing, just something to eat and enjoy, it’s not scary — not something to be afraid of.

    I try to eat healthfully and stick to small portions, so that if a coworker brings something fabulous in to share, I can eat a small sliver, enjoy it thoroughly, and move on with life.

  7. Big Loser

    After years of failing with the ‘everything in moderation’ method, I, like Ann, had to resort to abstaining from things I couldn’t control my impulses around. I simply couldn’t practice moderation with some things – usually the bad stuff. When I noticed I never got ‘out of control’ with veggies or other healthy stuff, I decided the bad stuff had to go for awhile. For me, that was a good move.

  8. E.

    I am definitely an overindulger in sweets — especially chocolate. My approach to this problem is multi-faceted.

    First, I decided that I can’t just go around and eat every sweet I happen to see just because it’s served at a party or in the kitchen at work. Yes, I don’t run into tiramisu every day and a little dab won’t hurt me, but tomorrow there will be carrot cake and the day after that there will be chocolate cake and then the day after that…

    So, I needed to limit the variety of sweets I could indulge in. I decided dark chocolate, which has some health benefits and is less processed than a slab of cake with frosting, was a good start.

    I then tried to find the healthiest version of that chocolate I could. I ended up buying Lindt 99% dark chocolate bars (they have very little sugar and milk, they’re almost all cocoa). One square has about 10 calories and it is so rich I can eat maybe 3 or 4. They are terrific with a glass of red wine, a cappucino, or a dish of berries.

    An unintended benefit of choosing a low-sugar dessert is that my taste for sweet foods has really changed.

  9. Ann

    I’m definitely the type that needs to just abstain from most of my favorites. Otherwise, I rationalize that since I’ve already had some, I might as well go overboard … I know that sounds silly, but in the moment it sounds totally reasonable.