License to Indulge

“I can resist everything except temptation” ~ Oscar Wilde

We are wired to choose “bad” food in times that we’ve also eaten good food – a tendency researchers call the “licensing effect.” If you select a kale salad for lunch then follow it with a brownie for dessert, you’re likely experiencing this common phenomenon. Subjects in one research study consistently chose less healthy food options when they believed the placebo they were given was a multi-vitamin. Here’s an article from the New York Times about this topic

Psychologist have identified a few strategies that can be used to overcome this subconscious balancing act that can keep you from progressing toward your weight loss/health goals. One approach is to focus on the process of living healthy, rather than the goal of being healthy. Choose healthy foods that will, as a byproduct, result in weight loss, rather than having a goal of losing weight. Feeling “deprived” because you can’t indulge in a favorite high calorie food can sabotage your best efforts at living healthy – according to the licensing effect, you’ll find that indulgence later in the day. (e.g. “I gave up that treat, so I’m going to eat this one instead.”)

Focus on choosing from a positive mindset; One of “I don’t want to eat that because it doesn’t fit into my healthy lifestyle commitment.” You’ll feel empowered and in control. When you practice that often, it becomes your new mode of healthy living.

To your good health!


Coach Gayle
Certified Weight Loss Coach/Fitness Trainer
WHS Wellness Center

P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling to reach or maintain a healthy weight or change an unhealthy lifestyle behavior, consider partnering with a weight loss/health coach for 1:1 support and accountability. Location isn’t an issue, as coaching can span the miles with tools such as facetime, phone and skype. It all begins with a call or email to arrange a no-obligation phone consultation.  Get in touch at

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