But first, pizza.
That was Kim Kardashian’s plot before overhauling her diet, as she revealed on Sunday’s episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. On the show, Kim, Khloé, and Kim’s BFF Jonathan Cheban ventured around New York City for a couple of slices of pizza, followed by chocolate ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles. It was all part of a final food indulgence before Kim would embark on a “lifestyle change” that she hopes will give her a “excellent body.” (As if she wasn’t already #bodygoals!)
We don’t have the details on what exactly Kim’s lifestyle change will entail, but Cheban’s already betting she’ll fall off the wagon. “I’ve heard about ‘lifestyle changes’ before,” he said. “I’ll see her at Cipriani—she cannot resist that pasta.”
“I’m really going to be dedicated and committed,” Kim fired back. “You’ll see.”
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Sorry Kim, we’ve got disappointing news for you: Feasting on your favorite foods before banning them from your diet sets you up for failure, as Cheban predicted. “If you’re starting a diet on this notion that you have to restrict foods you like, that means the diet is unsustainable and you’re going to fail,” says Julie Upton, RD, co-founder of Appetite for Health.
That’s because a binge-then-restrict plot requires a heck of a lot of willpower, especially if you’re denying yourself foods you really crave, clarifies Claudia T. Felty, PhD, RD. “Over time, you’re going to be around those foods and you’re going to be tempted by them,” she says. “When you set them up as foods you binge on now and then never eat again, that binge mentality comes back.”
Plenty of dieters believe that a Kim-style “last supper” will jumpstart lasting eating-habit changes, Upton says, but what it really does is “jumpstart the desire to get off the diet and [eat] the foods they’ve been restricting!”
When you choose a food you like is entirely off limits, you’re more likely to fixate on that no-no. “We want what we can’t have,” Felty says, and this longing can really trigger more intense cravings. Plus, telling yourself you simply “can’t” have certain foods turns eating into a moral issue. “It sets up this ‘excellent food’ versus ‘terrible food’ mentality that, for a lot of people, feeds an unhealthy relationship with foods that they like,” Upton adds.
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A smarter approach is identifying an eating plot that meshes with your lifestyle and food preferences and then taking small, sustainable steps to keep at it. “For someone who likes pasta or bread, a ketogenic diet is never going to work, because they’re going to constantly crave those foods,” Upton says. Instead, following a Mediterranean-style diet that allows for some grains can lead to slow and steady weight loss, she says.
Felty and Upton both recommend the 80-20 rule. For 80% of the time, stick to a healthy eating plot; 20% of the time, delight in the treats you like that don’t necessarily fit that plot on a daily basis, like pizza and ice cream. As long as you’re also exercising regularly and you consume them in reasonable quantities, incorporating those treat foods 20% of the time won’t derail your weight loss goals, Felty says.