I’m not a dieter. I believe that if the good lord didn’t want me to eat food that was bad for me, he wouldn’t have made it so delicious. But I do, for the most part, eat fairly healthy. Neglecting fads, diets, or the sort of crazy-talk that leads people to “mango purges” or something like that, here are the five simple ways I haven’t died of hamburger-related illness yet.

 

* Eat Slower

 

It’s as simple as that. If you’re eating quickly, especially while very hungry, the brain and stomach can’t register how full you are. Scarfing down food is one of the prime causes of over-eating: your body isn’t able to register that yup, that’s enough pizza. You’re so excited for the pizza that you devour it quickly. Your only able to realize in hindsight that, wow, too much pizza.

If you want that hindsight in advance, just eat slower. It’s like an over-eating time-machine.

 

*Substitute

 

Don’t get that bacon cheeseburger, but don’t get salad either. Get the regular hamburger. Fries? Get the small fries. No coke, just water. Okay, maybe diet coke.

The difference in those add-ons is almost as big as the meal itself. A bacon cheeseburger, large fries, and a coke is to a regular hamburger, small fries, and water what a regular hamburger is to a salad. But remember that a hamburger is much, much better than a salad. If you ignore the highly unhealthy add-ons, then treats like hamburgers or fried-chicken (ignore biscuits, etc at KFC if you can) aren’t as bad as you might expect. Keep your indulgences from being too bad for you and you’ll feel better.

 

*Eat Frequently

 

Eat frequently. It works ironically, but it works.

When you’re hungry, really hungry, that’s when cravings start. That’s when Taco Bell sounds like the best idea in the world, and that’s when you spend $11 at McDonalds and undo a whole days worth of basketball. But if you’re eating frequent, small, healthy meals then you won’t have the sort of cravings and urges that force you to work against your instincts. If you just had yogurt, you’re less likely to order pizza. If you just had a sandwich, you’re less likely to super-size those fries. Eat to avoid over-eating later. It’s a delicious solution.

 

*Be aware

 

Really, awareness of eating is almost as good as eating responsibly. Almost.

If I’m eating honey barbecue wings dipped in blue cheese, which I often do, I always makes sure a part of me says “this is a bad decision.” Then I go right back to eating them. If I’m aware, then that means eventually I’ll take ownership and control of it. It’s not eating junk that’s bad for you: it’s mindlessly eating it. Eat junk and enjoy it sure, but know that you are.

 

*Exercise 

 

If you want to be healthier with what you eat but simply don’t want to change the way you eat, you might as well exercise. Michael Phelps and other professional athletes generally have well-chronicled fast-food passions. If you want bacon every day, picking up a basketball here and there might be a good solution.