Once you start a diet, you might feel like you want to be perfectly on track and not miss a day! However, the difference between dieting and eating in a lasting, sustainable way is making sure you are not restricting anything. If you are very strict with your diet and feel like you can’t ever indulge even a little, you may struggle when you find yourself at birthday celebrations, work parties, or date nights!
Instead of viewing your only option to go off track is limited to one day or one big meal, begin to view “cheating” instead as: allowing yourself permission to enjoy foods that you don’t have every day (i.e. treats) in moderation. If you already know that you are going to be enjoying specific foods that are out of your normal regimen that day, you can plan what your day around that “cheat” meal.
Allowing yourself to have some indulgent items means that you are more likely to stay on plan than if you deprived yourself. If you feel like you want to eat a square or two of chocolate a few times per week, allow yourself to do so. You are less likely to indulge in eating one or two whole bars at a later time in the week due to increased craving levels.
Each person will view their indulgent meals differently. Some people will view eating out a few times per week – even while making healthier choices – as their cheat meals, while others will eat out on the weekends and have a higher calorie meal than they would normally eat and make less healthy choices.
Remember to be mindful of choices when you’re deciding when to have these foods during the week or on the weekend. Sometimes without much planning or awareness, a cheat or treat meal can lead to going completely off track. Without the right mindset, one meal could turn into another and you can feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon, making it harder to get back on.
If you are someone who doesn’t crave a lot of foods and does well being on track most of the time, it is not necessary to plan in times for these indulgent meals. Since each person has different food preferences and craves different items, the conversation of a cheat meal can vary from person to person greatly. What works for one person may not work for the other. In addition, sometimes it takes trying out how to fit these foods into your week a few times before you really find out what works best for you.