Which Is the Lesser Evil: The Better Choice Between 2 Diet Don'ts (PHOTOS)​

Maressa Brown | Mar 14, 2014 Healthy Living

woman ordering at restaurant waitressWhen it comes to eating healthy, it's easy to get stuck between a rock and a hard place. We've all been there ... faced with only a doughnut OR bagel at your office's morning breakfast. Or maybe you have no choice but to either nosh on greasy bar appetizers or wait 'til you get home and are so hungry you binge. Ugh. Such is life, right?

But sometimes there is a "lesser evil" option between two seemingly poor choices. Here, the best way to go when it comes to eight common healthy eating dilemmas ...

What are other healthy eating dilemmas like this you find yourself facing on the regular?

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  • Eating fast food for lunch vs. skipping lunch


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    "Eating fast food for lunch. You can find healthier versions of foods at fast food restaurants," says nutritionist Esther Blum, MS, RD, author of Cavewomen Don't Get Fat. "Skipping lunch raises the stress hormone cortisol and helps your body store excess fat."

  • Sticking to drinks at happy hour vs. eating AND drinking


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    "Eating and drinking," explains Blum. "When you have some food in your stomach, you are less likely to drink your dinner, have your blood sugar bottom out an hour later, and go home and binge eat a box of cereal or a pizza on the way home."

  • Giving into chocolate cravings vs. giving into chips or fries


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    Give into those chocolate cravings. Blum admits she herself does it "every night," noting that, "one to two squares of 70 percent dark chocolate can rock your world with some antioxidants and not tip the sugar scales." Definitely a better choice over fried foods, which are chock-full of toxic, pro-inflammatory hydrogenated fats that are full of empty calories.

  • Getting your caffeine fix from coffee vs. diet soda


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    Drinking coffee. Too much java "can certainly boost your cortisol levels and leave you shaky and irritable," Blum explains. "But it won't change your brain biochemistry, put you at risk for cancer, or cause your body to release insulin in response to the sweet taste of diet soda."

  • Splurging on a burger vs. Buffalo wings


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    The burger. Ideally, if you can "swing a grass-fed burger wrapped in lettuce leaves, you're going to be a nutritional rockstar," says Blum, noting that it's not that the wings are necessarily so bad, but it's all the blue cheese or ranch dip that pile on the saturated fat and allergenic dairy.

  • Having dairy milk or ice cream vs. a soy substitute


    Image via yogma/Flickr

    If you have to choose between these two, you're probably better going for the regular dairy (unless you're allergic/lactose intolerant, of course). Blum explains, "Regular dairy has sugar and can raise insulin levels, but soy is a hormonal disruptor and can interfere with thyroid function, can interfere with nutrient absorption due to its high phytate content, and is linked to autoimmune conditions."

  • Using regular sugar vs. artificial sweetener

    Image via jmrosenfeld/Flickr

    A little bit of the real deal. Not only are artificial sweeteners associated with weight gain because they may increase hunger and cravings, but people who drank more than three artificially sweetened drinks a day were about twice as likely to later become obese, a study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found.

  • Guiltily punishing yourself for that cupcake vs. eating as usual


    Image via ralphandjenny/Flickr

    Research in the journal Appetite found that the way we perceive foods is just as important as the calorie count. The study found that people riddled with guilt over foods like chocolate cake gained more weight over an 18-month period. The explanation: If you feel guilty, you're more likely to abandon diet and fitness plans. But if you view the occasional cupcake or pizza as something to be enjoyed and "celebrated," you'll have a better chance of sticking to long-term weight loss goals.

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