Flexible dieting is an approach that provides macronutrient targets while allowing you to choose the foods you enjoy to reach those targets.
Unlike many diets, flexible dieting doesn't label food good or bad. This mindset encourages a positive relationship with food and creates a more sustainable long-term lifestyle.
Flexible Dieting is like a Budget
Many people think that flexible dieting means eating as much junk food as you want, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Just because you have a budget doesn't mean you can buy as many sports cars, lottery tickets, and boats as you want.
Sure, you MIGHT be able to buy any of those things, but it might not be a good idea because it might mean you can't pay your mortgage/rent, utilities, or buy clothes and stay within that budget.
Now, let's relate this to flexible dieting and macro targets.
If your calorie budget is 1500 per day, you decide to spend 900 of that on a big slice of cheesecake that only leaves 600 calories remaining for the day. It's going to be pretty hard to meet your protein, fiber, and micronutrient goals with only 600 calories left and feel full at the same time.
On the other hand, if your calorie budget is 3000 per day, you might need to eat some calorie-dense foods, like that 900 calorie cheesecake, to meet your calorie budget without feeling stuffed and bloated. This leaves you with 2100 calories remaining for the day to hit your protein, fiber, and micronutrient goals, which is very doable.
As you can see, a macro budget is just as important as a financial budget!
So, "junk" food is OK?
Well, yes! It is important to realize that NO foods are off-limits when flexible dieting.
Do you find yourself often dismissing specific foods because you label them as "bad" or constantly eating the same foods because you label them as "good"? If so, you should consider looking at food choices from a different perspective. Here are some examples of what you may want to consider when making food choices:
What macros will this food provide me within my daily budget?
Can I eat this food and still hit my protein target?
Am I going to be hungry later if I "spend" most of my daily carbs on this food?
Have I had many vegetables today?
Does this food upset my stomach?
And most importantly, do I actually like this food? Are there alternatives that I actually enjoy?
Yes, some foods can be a bad choice at a specific moment, but that is a decision that needs to be made based on many factors. If it's right before bedtime and you've finished your macros for the week, it's probably a bad idea to eat a big piece of cake or half of a pizza since that will derail you from your goal.
So remember this, foods are not black and white. They're not "yes" or "no." Especially not "good" or "bad." There is no reason that "fun" foods can't be incorporated into your diet. Actually, some research suggests that not being a rigid, strict dieter actually helps with dietary compliance!