It’s okay, you can admit it: Junk food is awesome. In fact, that’s it’s biggest problem. Chips, fried chicken, donuts, and even iced tea taste so good that we can’t resist it.

For many people who want to not just lose some weight, but actually get in shape (since the two are not exactly the same thing), the challenge is not just getting into a regular exercise routine, but avoiding the tempting foods that can undo all the work you put in at the gym.

Just like giving up other vices like smoking rarely works when you try doing it ‘cold turkey’ (that is, immediately ceasing to eat another piece of cake for the rest of your life), a bit more care and attention can go a long way. Balancing out healthy eating and a bit of a sugar-heavy reward is the best way to maximize results, and here are some tips on how to do that.

Moderation is the Key

The Greek philosopher Aristotle hit the nail on the head all those years ago when he came up with the above maxim. He was referring to any human activity (including philosophy, because you shouldn’t just live with your head in the clouds having deep thoughts, you should also go out and appreciate the world and interact with others), but it can easily be applied to food habits.

The problem is we don’t live in a world where moderation is appreciated. If there is an ad for food on tv or online, it’s for a triple cheeseburger, super-sugary drink or a fancy truck (that you would need to become a straight or trans sugar baby in order to afford). 

That means it’s up to your own willpower to resist, to choose carrot sticks over potato chips, and grilled chicken over its fried counterpart. Of course, you can have some of these tempting treats, but putting them onto a weekly schedule can help. Fast food can quickly become the worst culprit since it doesn’t take much to super-size a menu or add a dessert to the order, limiting it to once a week is a good plan. 

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a good way to look at how you should be filling your pantry. Moving from chips to crackers is okay, but going right to sliced veggies is even better. Foods that have plenty of preservatives can really have plenty of that extra-unhealthy trans and saturated fats, so try to cut down on the peanut butter and frozen foods.

A small routine change that can help would be to avoid convenience stores! They are snack heaven and health food hell, so making sure you have a grocery list and get all you need from a proper supermarket will keep you away from succumbing to the unhealthy stuff. Finding health stores online (in between checking email or visiting a squirt gay site) can make a big difference, too.

You Can Beat the Real Thing

One of the most effective habits you can change is cutting out soft drinks. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Mountain Dew, you name it, and then you can forget it. Because they are liquid you don’t think much about how damaging they can be to your overall health, and it’s doubly easy to ignore because of how darn cheap they are.

But every time you add it to a burger and fries or slice of pizza (or just decide to have a big bottle of it in your fridge), the amount of sugar you are adding to your body is shocking. If you have a family, you might not even realize what sort of habits you are installing in your kids by always having these sorts of addictive drinks in the home. 

It’s easy to see why these products are so popular: Sugar is delicious. But these drinks aren’t even natural sugars like what you would find in fruit. These are highly refined, chemically-extracted sugars, meaning they are ridiculously sweet and can do terrible damage to your digestive system over time.

Replacing them with actual juice is a good start. In fact, even better would be to ‘cut’ your glass of orange or apple with water, to cut down on the sugars you would find in there as well. Once again, nothing is wrong with sugar, but there is quite a lot wrong with too much sugar.

Pig Out With Pals

An easy way to organize your most healthy and little bit unhealthy eating plan is to keep your house free of junk food, and then enjoy yourself when out with others. After all, when out at a restaurant or bar and the nachos and mozzarella sticks are ordered, it’s hard to resist the Group Fun

Not that there will be obvious peer pressure from your friends, but even you don’t want to always say ‘no thanks’ when a plate of tasty appetizers is suddenly in front of you. Just look at it as your reward for being so responsible all the times you are eating fruit and rice in your home.

Pasta: The Secret Weapon

When you first start looking into eating healthy, it makes sense that you will start to worry about being on something that looks like an all salad diet. It’s a hard image for responsible meals to shake, which is why pasta is pushed so heavily in the world of fitness.

Because of their simplicity, you can add plenty to these dishes in terms of sauces, veggies and meats to make them taste delicious. The pasta itself has plenty of carbohydrates, meaning it moves through your digestive system quickly, but can quickly store itself in other areas in your body.

This is why it is important to eat pasta if you are already in a good place workout-wise because that’s how you can ‘burn’ that fat while exercising and help build up muscle.