I sometimes think of blindly restrictive dieting like an icy cold lake on an unseasonably hot day. You work up the nerve to dive in and, after the initial shock wears off and numbness sets in, you splash around happily for a while. But once you climb out, the memory of that initial frigidity is enough to keep you warmly on dry land-- diving back in is almost never an option.

So instead of adopting a blindly restrictive, icy-cold lake diet, my advice is for you to practice thoughtful reduction. It's not about whether or not a food or an indulgence is allowed; it's whether or not you feel it's worth it to you, where worth isn't determined solely by calories or content, but also by circumstance, desire and the human condition.

[See There's No Such Thing as 'Perfect Eating.']

Sometimes it's worth comforting or celebrating with the most nutritionally terrifying of foods. Just make sure, if you've decided it's worth it, to also ask yourself what's the smallest amount of that delicious awfulness that you need to like your life. A small bit of here-and-there awful, and maybe you'll actually stick to your new and improved dietary intake. But deny yourself that chance, and I'd bet, eventually, you'll find yourself right back at your all-you-can eat, unhappy square one.

Yoni Freedhoff, MD, is an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, where he's the founder and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute--dedicated to non-surgical weight management since 2004. Dr. Freedhoff sounds off daily on his award-winning blog, Weighty Matters, and you can follow him on Twitter @YoniFreedhoff. Dr. Freedhoff's latest book, The 10 Day Reset Solution: Why Everything You've Been Taught About Dieting is Wrong and How to Fix It, will be published by Random House's Crown/Harmony in 2014.


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