In this article we’re going to look at the common foods which cause diets to fail.




First of all what do we mean by the word treats?


At Health by Science, we define treats as ultra-processed foods that are poor quality with no nutritional value and eaten either for pleasure, convenience or a combination of the two. 


When considering energy density, we count 1 treat as 250 calories, this could be a large galss of wine, a slice of cake, a couple of biscuits, a chocolate bar, a packet of crisps or an extra serving of dinner for example.


Are treats bad?


We often hear of eating treats as being “bad” or “naughty” and something we shouldn’t do.


But there aren’t good foods and bad foods, the poison is in the dose. They should be foods we can enjoy in moderation, guilt free.

Energy balance - weight loss

But why do we crave ultra-processed foods? 


Our brains find sugar really rewarding. This is why we crave it. It’s not just sugar though, ultra processed foods in general are high on the craving list. 


And while they can be sugary foods they can also be fat and salty foods, which is why they taste so great!



Why are treats so important to us?


Treats are used in celebration. Treats are used when we make friends. Treats are used to keep in touch with friends. Treats are also used to help people when they’re feeling sad as it gives our brain a short-term boost which improves our mood


But the effects are often short-lived and make it easy to put on weight.


Overall, treats are an important part of our culture and society and we have a very strong emotional connection to them.


Food companies understand this better than anyone and use this as part of their marketing to tap into our emotions to help make us more likely to buy their products without us even realising it.


Just like this McDonald’s advert which doesn’t reference their food until they order it! Instead they focus on the high levels of lonliness in society and try to tap into these people’s emotions. 


And this has being going on for decades, just take a look at this classic cadbury’s roses advert!


Again it has nothing to do with the chocolates but gives the impression that the best way to say thank you is by buying somebody some chocolates (word of warning, the tune is extremely catchy)…

And the results speak for themselves, as these ultra-processed foods make up 50% of the average person’s diet (1).


However, while back in our grand-parents days they used to be a rare occasional occurrence, now we are surrounded by them.


At work it’s cake Mondays, Pizza fridays, while it may seem small at the time, these treats add up.


A good analogy for this is that treats are like spending money. Based on our current weight, activity levels and goals we have a budget to stay the same weight.


Eating treats is like spending money on things that we want but don’t need.

If we know our budget and spend within our means then we can enjoy these and enjoy life with a good life curve. 


But if we spend too much then we can get into debt and become overweight or obese, resulting in a poorer life curve


But we can get out of debt if we take a moment to stop and reflect on our health habits. 


If we want to get out of debt and lose weight then we need to rein in our spending and treats until we have paid off our debts and are able to live within our means with a better life curve.

Energy balance - weight loss

Like we’ve said already, the one thing that works against us is our environment, which in the western world is often shaped to make it very easy for us to over consume treats. Especially in supermarkets…

With the huge amount of information on the internet, it can be hard to navigate what works and what doesn’t. 


That’s why we’ve created these articles and our Free Weight Loss Kickstarter, to help simplify the basics so that you can start getting great results by following the science-based principles instead of the latest fad.


FREE Weight-Loss Scorecard: See how easy you would find it to lose weight and keep it off with our FREE scorecard.

If you have tried dieting and are confused or overwhelmed by the huge amount of weight loss misinformation on the web, then try our weight-loss scorecard below.


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Can you eat treats and still lose weight?


So overall it’s no wonder we are facing an obesity epidemic when we are surrounded by cheap, great tasting products that can be made to not make you feel full.


So what can we do?


We are not saying that treats should be banned. 


In fact a diet missing treats is not a healthy diet. 


But instead of treats making up half of your nutrition, if we are able to make up 80% of our diet from good quality food we can get away with some treats now and again.


It starts by increasing your awareness of what you are eating and drinking. So let’s take a moment to reflect on how many treats you noticed in your food diary.


These foods taste really good and are there to be enjoyed. They can easily be worked into a healthy diet and still abide by the principles of good nutrition, starting with consistency.


At first, this can be hard because these foods typically taste great and you will crave them. 


Amazingly though, our taste is plastic (meaning our cravings can change) and responds to the foods we eat regularly.


Understanding your nutrition requirements based on your goals and individual barriers is a key part of achieving sustainable weight loss, just like our clients below. 


Image of weight loss client Beth

“I’ve been working with Jamie since Feb 2019 and moved to Health by Science with him. I love working out at their gym, everyone’s super friendly.”


Over a 12 month period, David managed to lose over 10kg and record his lowest and healthiest weight in the last 25 years.


Image of weight loss client Lucy

Lucy used to think that people like her weren’t meant to exercise. Lucy has now achieved results she never thought were possible.


image of weight loss scales


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If you have tried dieting and are confused or overwhelmed by the huge amount of weight loss misinformation on the web then we’ve got the course for you.


Learn about how the three key pillars of great health, physical activity, nutrition and recovery are key to efficient and sustainable weight loss.




1) Steele, E. M., Baraldi, L. G., Louzada, M. L., Moubarac, J., Mozaffarian, D., & Monteiro, C. A. (2016, January 01). Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: Evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Retrieved from