Cheating on a diet isn’t usually the way to go. After all, on a diet you’re supposed to be perfect and not allow a single morsel of fattening food in. So, why would anyone want to cheat on a diet if your goal is to lose weight?
If you actually think along these lines, chances are you are a yo-yo dieter who resolves to start over as soon as a non-approved food was eaten. Back to being perfect. Back to the gym to work it off. Back on track on Monday and never ever eating poorly again until you reach your goal weight.
Well, here’s the good news. If you strive to eat ‘perfectly’ all the time, chances are, you’re doing more harm than good and will get to your goal much more slowly.
Take a look at this email I got this morning from one of my Slim & Strong gals:
“Ariane, I wanted to send you an email as I experienced my first cheat meal for my birthday last night. My husband surprised me with dinner at Mario Batali’s restaurant Babbo (in which I automatically freaked out as pasta came to mind). The bigger surprise was when we sat down at the table and he informed me that we were doing the Pasta Tasting Menu (now I really freaked out thinking about how bad my body would feel in the morning after eating pasta). The food was amazing and the pasta was probably the best I have ever had. I also had 2 glasses of red wine (which took the entire dinner to drink as my body was not used to having alcohol). When I woke up this morning, I definitely did not feel 100% as I am sure the pasta and wine didn’t help with that. I did wake up with the attitude of getting back on track and excited to eat veggies and lean proteins for my meals today. I wanted to personally thank you for keeping me motivated and helping me to realize how my body really does react to certain foods once you remove them from your diet. I included a picture that I took of the tasting menu. I am looking forward to working out tomorrow night at Slim & Strong “
What happened here? She allowed herself a cheat, enjoyed it, felt the consequences (where she realizes that a cheat meal isn’t necessarily a ‘treat’ if it makes her feel bad afterwards) and then simply decides to continue eating clean and working out. No crazy actions to ‘make up’ for messing up, cheating or eating non-approved foods.
Most people, and by that I mean especially women, beat themselves up after ‘falling off the wagon’. They insult themselves by going on guilt trips and beat themselves up for having failed or lost it. The very fact that you feel guilt, gets you back on the down-ward spiral called dieting, where you eat perfectly for a while, lose it and then try to be ueber-perfect to get back on track. Perfection isn’t sustainable and you continue the cycle.
If you’ve never planned cheat meals into your diet, then why not try making them part of your lifestyle plan (and, notice that I don’t use the word diet as I prefer the word ‘lifestyle’. If you’re not doing it for life, your results are only temporary anyways).
Add 1-2 cheat meals to your clean eating routine every week and I assure you that over time you realize that the foods that have the big ‘forbidden’ sign on them will become much less appealing. Over time you will build up an aversion to them and won’t crave them to the same degree. The result? You realize how great a clean diet makes you feel and you know that when you do eat foods that are high in sugar, carbs or fat you will feel the negative consequences. Long-term results: You stick to your guns and WANT to eat clean and don’t feel you MUST eat clean. This seemingly little change in mindset makes all the difference if you want to achieve a kick-ass body for life.
Here’s how: After a week of eating clean (protein and veggies), add two cheat meals a week. Eat anything you like and enjoy it. I’m talking burger or fries or wine or dessert. Not ALL of them together. Enjoy ONE thing and see what happens.
The longer you eat clean, the more sensitive you become to high-starch/sugar foods and the more severe your response to eating them.
Enjoying cheat meals guilt-free twice a week will reduce your cravings, will make you realize what foods truly make you feel great and will build an aversion to previously appealing foods. Over time you are reprogramming your brain to crave foods that create a slim and strong and healthy body. Plus, you can be part of social occasions and eliminate the guilt trips that make you feel bad about yourself.
Enjoy that burger!