Research found that enjoying a cheat meal on occasion may be one step in the right direction if your aim is to drop the pounds for the summer. But do not dive into that bowl of ice cream or bag of cheese popcorn just yet.
Aja Stokes, a registered dietician with the Fairview Park Hospital recommends the following tactics to cheat without totally going off your diet.
Preplan In Advance
Cheating whenever you feel like it is a surefire way to derail your dieting efforts. However, planning one cheat day (or a meal preferably) will not hurt you. It may be beneficial to plan ahead so that you will not be lured in by unhealthy foods. Better yet, relegate your weekday of cheating to a weekend day. This is usually the time you will more likely go out with family or friends. Once you know that you will be having a cheat meal for dinner, load up on vegetables and protein for breakfast and lunch.
The ideal rule to go by is ‘everything in moderation.” You do not necessarily need to engage in entire cheat days. Allow a cheat meal or you can disperse your ‘cheats’ throughout the day.
According to one study, there are some benefits for adding cheat sessions into your diet. Participants who engaged in a six-day, low-calorie diet and had a cheat day on the seventh day were more satisfied versus participants that ate a consistent number of calories each day. This resulted in no differences in the total weight that was lost between the two diets.
One of the major consequences with eating a lot of junk food is the lack of feeling full. This means that you will eat more than you should in order to feel satisfied. Pair your cheat food with a fiber-rich, low-calorie nutritious side, such as a green salad or vegetables. This will help to avoid overdoing on the unhealthy foods.
You may not be aware that vegetables, in particular, are nutritionally dense. They provide so many nutrients with very few calories. One cup of raw spinach contains vitamins K and A, delivering only seven calories. When you combine to it some cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell pepper, you can enjoy a nutritious bowl of salad alongside your favorite cheeseburger.
Do Not Forget About Hydration
Drinking enough water is key to the body’s function and overall health. When planning your cheat day, this is even more crucial. The amount of water that is required will predicate on a few factors such as: gender, age, environment, activity level, and your health condition.
Not only is water important for body functioning, it will fill you up while decreasing the desire to eat more. In another study, participants who drank more water consumed fewer calories each day. Our body can often confuse thirst for that of hunger, persuading us to reach for that slice of cake instead of what we really need – water. To avoid this, drink a hefty glass of water before chowing down.
Know Your Limits
The key to a successful cheat meal is realizing your limits. You have to know that it is only temporary and be able to go back to your normal diet regimen the next day.
Listed are proven ways of practicing self-control and bouncing back afterwards.
Not wallowing in yesterday's binges
Staying hydrated with water
Getting the body moving
Plan healthy sides around your ‘cheat’ food.
For some, eating back into a healthy regimen after a cheat meal can be difficult. Those who find it a challenge can opt for guilt-free foods that can be consumed as treats. Fruits have a natural sweetness, but like anything else, they contain calories and should be consumed in healthy portions.
Healthy alternative foods that taste cheat foods:
Cauliflower mashed potatoes
Baked sweet potato wedges
Banana “nice’ cream
Valerie lives in New York. As a health advocate, she shares tips and steps on maximizing nutrition, weight, and fitness goals to help others embrace a healthier lifestyle. She blogs at Halfmile Fitness.