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Trash Food 

Ahead of the new year, here's one way to plan, meticulously, the perfect pre-diet binge

Sorry to break the news to you, readers: with the holiday parties, happy hours and family gatherings, most of us have been gradually packing on extra pounds since October. It's hard to resist the festive sweet treats: those pillowy, Italian cream-filled macarons, the crunchy, buttery toffee, the soft yellow sponge and chocolate buttercream of the bûche de Noël, or even the yule log. Oh, and you may have had a cup or two or four of rich eggnog, with way more than a splash of whiskey. We're all celebrating, so why not indulge? This only happens once a year.

The stats are that the average American gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As the New Year approaches, we begin making promises to ourselves. We're going to be so different next year, we say. Right after this macaron, we cajole.

According to a ComRes poll, one-third of people make New Year's resolutions to lose weight or to eat healthier. That's a lot of us starting the new year on a diet—and there are so many to choose from: Atkins, The Zone diet, ketogenic diet, alkaline diet, Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, vegetarian, vegan or raw food diet. I'm sure there are even more, but what they all have in common is they probably don't include your favorite foods.

Just before we make those diet commitments, we panic. Oh no! We won't be able to eat [insert your favorite food] for a while! This is when we bargain with ourselves. We say, I'll have one last binge before I'm healthy. One last big caloric hurrah.

I asked a few friends—all women—how they would plan their pre-diet binge. What they said shocked me. Almost all of them said they would binge on one thing. Just one person included dessert. It was just pizza, nachos or a burrito with Flamin' Hot Cheetos and chocolate cake. Really? That's it? For me, the thought of being majorly food restricted for an extended period of time had me thinking about a solid plan that filled a few days. I was thinking indulgence at breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert—maybe even including the snack category. I couldn't pick just one food. I have a hard enough time picking something off a breakfast menu because I always want savory and sweet, and eggs benedict.

Here's how you take a pre-diet binge seriously: make a trash food plan.

  • Grab a pen and paper, readers, because we're going to get to work. We need to do some mind-mapping to visually organize our food fantasies.
  • On your paper, write each of these words with space around them: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snack.
  • Put a circle around each word. Now start your brainstorming, beginning with breakfast. Make a line out from the breakfast circle and write down each of your ideas.

    Mine included chicken and waffles, Fruity Pebbles, pancakes and bacon, huevos rancheros with pork carnitas, a cardamom latte and a bacon breakfast croissant sandwich. Do this with each of your bubbles and don't hold back.
    We'll edit later.

Now that you have a cluster of different options for each category, narrow down your ideas by following your gut. Without thinking too much, make a choice and underline it. I decided on huevos rancheros with pork carnitas for breakfast, an Asian pork meatball sandwich with chips and a cider for lunch, a cheeseburger, fries and a beer for dinner, a chocolate cupcake with caramel sea salt frosting for dessert and sour cream and onion potato chips as my snack.

Next, we need to be realistic. If we eat everything in one day we are going to feel bloated at best, even if we wear our stretchiest of pants. Plan a proper bender. Take a few days and pick which meal to binge.

If you follow this simple plan you'll head straight into your diet satiated by your favorite foods. I can't guarantee it will help you stick to that new diet, but I can guarantee it will taste good. We could also make this the new diet called the satisfaction diet. Simply take the first three days of every month and eat your most-loved dishes, then for the rest of the month eat healthy. That's a balanced diet, right?

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