Eating a healthy diet does not mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite foods for good. In fact, incorporating your favorite foods is a great way to stay motivated with healthy eating. We often refer to this as a ‘cheat day’ or a ‘cheat meal’: a day or a meal where you indulge in foods that you do not normally eat throughout the week. Many dietary professionals recommend implementing a cheat day or meal, especially if the individual is on a strict eating plan. This can promote a more sustainable and realistic way of eating. It is important to be cautious and not go overboard. Here are a few things to keep in mind on your cheat days:
Have a plan. It might be tempting to let loose and eat everything in sight on your cheat days. After all, you’ve been so good all week! But adding more structure to your splurging can go a long way to preventing you from overindulging. Planning out what you are going to eat allows you to indulge, without over doing it.
Eat just your favorite foods. If you are going to “cheat”, then make sure you do it only on your favorite foods. Avoid eating something just because it is there, like a stale cookie at a party you will likely not even enjoy.
Focus on portion control. Even your cheat days need to have some boundaries. The best way to do this is with portion control. If ice cream is one of your favorite foods, then have one scoop to satisfy that craving, rather than a whole pint.
Turn off the TV. Studies show we tend to eat greater quantities when we are distracted by the television. Set time aside to mindfully enjoy what you are eating, without distractions.
Get back on track. If you are more thoughtful about your cheat days, then there should be no feelings of guilt afterward. Accept that you allowed yourself to reasonably indulge, and get right back on track with your healthy eating habits.