How to indulge responsibly
We know dieting can be hard. It can be even harder to figure out ways to keep yourself sane while dieting. But perhaps what is most difficult about dieting is finding ways to treat yourself without going off the rails. While making sure you cheat responsibly can take discipline, you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you’re prepared. Today we’ve got some tips for you on how you can indulge in your favorites without destroying your current progress with your diet.
- Plan it out
The easiest way for your cheat meal to snowball into you quitting your diet is to be without a plan. So plan it out! That way it’s as easy as possible to know what you’re supposed to eat and when. Start a meal plan calendar to take out all the guesswork, and make sure you include cheat meals in that plan as well. Doing meal prep can be helpful as well, as it’s a lot easier to stay on your diet when your meals are ready to go and you aren’t mulling about in the kitchen deciding what to eat and risking temptation. Just remember above all that a structured, balanced plan is key to staying on your diet, cheat days or otherwise.
- Cheat meals, not days
So maybe it’s been a few weeks on your diet and you’re really craving something tasty. You opt for a couple slices of pizza, which turns into the whole pizza, which turns into dessert as well, and soon you’re ordering takeout from your favorite place...sound familiar? It can be very easy for a cheat meal to turn into a cheat day, especially when you’ve been strictly dieting for a while. But while it can take a while to make progress on a diet, it can be reversed even quicker if you’re careless about your discipline when it comes to cheating. Plus, if you blow a whole day cheating on your diet, it can make it even more difficult to go back to being regimented the next day. So make sure that when you do cheat, you only make it a meal - not the whole day.
- Don’t get emotional about food
While it’s true that food is one of life’s great, simple pleasures, it’s important to remember that we eat to live and not the other way around. With that in mind, make sure you aren’t making an emotional connection with your food; especially a negative one, such as feeling guilt or shame for eating. These sorts of mental patterns where you feel bad for eating or wanting to eat your favorite foods can spiral into eating disorders if left unchecked. Just remember that food is nothing to beat yourself up over, and if you do feel yourself developing these thinking patterns to see a mental health professional for help. There’s no shame in enjoying an occasional treat, and there’s no shame in getting help if you need it as well.
If you’re trying to have a cheat meal while preserving the results of your plan, one important element to consider beyond what you choose to eat is when you choose to eat it. For example, if you’ve been on a low-carb diet and you’re craving a burger and fries, it can actually prove beneficial to eat your cheat meal before going to the gym for a training session for some extra energy on top of satisfying your cravings. Additionally, eating a cheat meal before you do your workout can actually help bring your hormones back up to baseline, which can re-accelerate your fat loss after a long period of dieting since long-term dieting can lead to weight loss plateaus. So knowing this, you can make cheat meals a valuable tactic if your goal is to lose weight and you’re smart about not just what you treat yourself with, but when you do it. Plus, make sure you aren’t cheating too often - once a week or two is ideal for most people.
- Try for healthier
Just because it’s a cheat meal doesn’t mean you have to go for the lowest common denominator. While it’s good to stay true to your cravings so that you can really satisfy them, that doesn’t mean you can’t make some adjustments to make your treat a little bit healthier. For example, if you eat a burger for your cheat meal, you can opt for leaner beef and a whole wheat bun with a salad on the side instead of fries. Or, if you want to treat yourself to some sugary cereal, you can opt for our Grain-Free Brownie Crunch with milk instead. There’s plenty of ways to make small modifications to your cheat meals that will still satisfy your cravings without going for the least healthy option!
We know that dieting can be difficult, and we hope that these tips help you stay sane on your diet and make the right choices when it comes to the occasional cheat meal. Dieting is hard, but nothing’s better than the effort you put in paying off when you reach your goals. We hope that this has been a helpful guide and wish you the best of luck on your dietary goals!