Starting a new diet can be tough, especially when there’s a donut or pizza calling your name from across the street. Even after a long week of dieting and working out, those cravings start kicking in and you decide to reward yourself with a cheat meal. But before you start stuffing your face on your favorite fast food, you should still exercise some self-control so you avoid falling behind on your diet. Follow these simple rules, if you want to properly treat yourself without seeing the effects on your waistline.
Don’t cheat too frequently
Let’s make this clear, regularly eating a tub of ice cream every night to reward yourself is the wrong way to treat yourself. Instead you should aim for the 90/10 rule, where 90% of the time you should be eating foods strictly related to your diet plan and 10% of the time you are allowed to cheat on your diet. Within one month, for example, you can take three cheat meals. It’s best to spread out your cheat meals evenly throughout the month to avoid slipping back into unhealthy eating habits. If you schedule your cheat meals this way you are less likely to see higher numbers on your weighing scale.
The frequency of your splurges also depends on where you are in your diet and exercise program. If you have just begun your diet plan, frequently excusing yourself with cheat meals can lead to a slippery slope where you start to lose motivation or even discontinue your fitness program. If you are much closer to your goal weight however, taking an occasional cheat meal is less harmful.
Post-workout cheat meals
If you’re going to cheat, cheat after an intense workout session. This helps minimize the blow of high-calorie foods going into your system. Eating meals high in protein and carbs after a workout stand a better chance of being used for your muscles to recover rather than being converted into fat. And, if it’s any consolation, you probably won’t feel too bad about eating some chicken wings when your entire body is exhausted.
Don’t stuff your face with processed food
Probably the only foods that should be off limits in a cheat meal are processed food. The next time you’re craving a burger and fries don’t turn to places like McDonald’s. This is because major fast food chains lace their food with preservatives and, if ingested, could lead to a lot of health risks including heart disease, breathing problems and cancer.
When looking for cheat foods, it’s important to know just what exactly is on your plate. So if you’re still hungry for a burger either go to a burger joint or, better yet, make one yourself. Chances are, it will probably be healthier and tastier than the fast food option.
Save cheat meals for special occasions
It’s usually pretty difficult to watch what you eat during the holidays or other events. That’s why you should schedule your cheat meals during special occasions. Suppose you’re invited to someone’s dinner party, and your friends offer you food that they have labored to make since the day before. Are you going to tell them that you’re on a diet and proceed to throw away the food on your plate? It’s okay to be flexible with your diet just as long as you don’t overeat and develop unhealthy habits on those special days.
Cheat meals aren’t binge meals
Many people confuse cheating on their diet as being given the freedom to binge on high-calorie foods. Be careful about having several servings when you have a cheat meal. In extreme cases, eating too much in a single sitting can completely undo the work you put in for the entire week. Remember that the purpose of indulging is to keep you sane from the monotony of your regular diet plan, not to see how many cookies you can eat before being sick.
At the end of the day, well incorporated cheat meals throughout the month can give you the mental boost you need to stick to your workout and diet program. Just make sure you don’t overdo it or you risk going back to square one. If you would like to hear any other advice concerning your diet and nutrition, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.