Healthy Cheat Meal: How To Properly Cheat In Your Diet
When you are on a strict diet and exercise regimen, it can get a little exhausting. Creating a plan that is realistic for your lifestyle and good for your health can be difficult, but setting aside a meal each week to treat yourself can help. After all, it is nice to get a break sometimes and have the chance to eat your favorite food without feeling guilty about it.
Normally, you need to stick to healthy foods if you want to achieve your diet goals and improve your health, but working on a cheat day can make a huge difference in your progress. The trick is figuring out how to set a cheat day aside for yourself without setting yourself back in your plan. This may sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. There are actually some healthy ways to cheat on your meal plan!
Now, without further ado, here are some practical tips to help you cheat without ruining your diet:
1. Keep You Calorie Intake In Check
The first trick to cheating on your meal plan in a healthy way is to look at what you can sacrifice without ruining your progress. The caloric intake requirements for maintaining a healthy weight are different from the intake to lose weight. Sometimes it can feel stressful to maintain too low of calories for too long in your meal plan, so it is okay to go over the limitations that you have set for yourself every now and then.
Keep in mind, however, that gaining weight is much easier than losing it so you may want to set your cheat meal limit at the required calories for maintaining weight instead of going overboard.
2. Plan Your Healthy Cheat Meal In Advance
The next step in a proper cheat meal is to plan it in advance! If you know exactly what to expect, then you can treat your cheat meal as a reward for doing so well throughout the week. This also will limit the amount of fatigue that you will feel while you are making important sacrifices throughout the week for your meals.
Instead of waking up and thinking “All I want is a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich instead of all of this fruit” you will see yourself changing your mentality overtime to “If I eat healthy for six straight mornings then I can reward myself with a breakfast sandwich on morning seven!”
It may seem like an oversimplification and in some ways it is because this mental shift won’t happen right away. You have to actively talk to yourself when you feel those cravings in order to change that mentality and you also need to give your body and mind time to catch up to that pep talk you are giving yourself.
3. Make Sure To Control Your Food Cravings
Another factor in creating a healthy cheat meal is to look at what you’ve been craving. It is important to change your relationship with food when you begin a meal and workout regimen, so when you crave foods that is okay as long as you give in on your own terms.
You can give in to those cravings every now and then for your psychological benefit, but don’t do it when your body is asking you for it. Tell that craving that you are going to wait until Sunday because that is your cheat day, and you will be surprised at how much of an impact that alone can have on how you mentally process those cravings moving forward.
Planning in advance also helps with this because you need to make sure that you are not cheating on a day when you are feeling extremely hungry. Telling yourself that you are going to cheat on that day allows you to prepare your body so that it is not overcompensating for the feeling of malnourishment.
Compromising on your cravings is also an important part of self-control in the weight loss process. You cannot let your cravings control you, you need to work to control them! So if you want to order a slice of pie, ask the waitress if they will put half of the slice in a to-go box so that you are not tempted to eat the entire treat in one sitting.
If you want coffee, skip the cream because that will only add calories and fats to the cup that you don’t need to enjoy the caffeine. When you crave pizza, go with the Veggie Lover’s instead of the Meat Lover’s and you will see a huge decline in caloric intake.
4. Know When To Schedule Your Cheat Day
When you schedule your cheat day, be sure to schedule it for a day that you are going to be active. This is not an attempt to correlate the number of calories you eat with the ones that you are burning, because that will get you into a rabbit hole of calorie counting that is also unhealthy psychologically.
When you are active, however, your metabolism is at its peak so overall it is the safest day to prevent you from falling off of the wagon. When your metabolism is heightened you are likely to feel good and continue to feel active in the following days. With that in mind, eating a cheat meal that day is not a bad idea as it is unlikely to make you feel sluggish or uncomfortable.
5. Avoid Eating Too Much Food In One Sitting
There are also tricks with the human body that will help you if you are dying for a meal that is way over your caloric intake requirements. Prior to your cheat meal, eat a healthy snack or drink a lot of water and your body won’t feel like stuffing itself with the meal you’ve been craving all week. Instead, you will be more likely to eat a healthy, moderate portion instead of the huge, restaurant-sized one.
Starving yourself all day and smashing 2500 calories in one sitting is never recommended. Not only it will likely give you some digestive issues, but it can also slow down your metabolism which is never a good thing if you are trying to lose weight. Instead, schedule your meals that day so that you eat two or three meals with enough portions to feel satisfied without going overboard.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Unfortunately, most people in today’s modern economy live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. Working in an office means that you spend a significant amount of time sitting down and we tend to eat our meals while sitting as well.
It is important to remember that “mindless eating” will cause you to eat larger portions than you would if you practice “mindful eating”. With that in mind, you should not sit in front of a television set while you eat or do anything that will distract you from what is on your plate and what you are putting in your body.
If you sit in front of a mirror or with a group of friends, then you are more likely to be self-conscious about the amount that you are eating. When you are distracted from your meal then you tend to eat about 10 percent more than others who are more focused on what they are eating. Additionally, paying more attention to your meal makes you enjoy your food a lot more.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
Cheat meals can make the process of losing weight more fun and feel less like a chore or a burden. The trick is to find a balance between cheating on a meal and keeping the momentum of your lifestyle change moving forward.
Create a weekly plan that you can feel good about, go through the meal preparations so that it is easy to stick to and reward yourself when you have earned it and never a day before. When you do slip up, don’t get down on yourself or give up because you are human after all (making mistakes is part of being human).
Just make the commitment that you will get back on the horse and stick with it the next time and avoid disappointing yourself. If things are not working well for you, don’t be afraid to change your approach and try something new.
As your relationship with food continues to blossom and change, then you will see that your relationship with these cheat days will also grow and evolve. You will include more vegetables and fruits as you move forward. You will find that a six-ounce steak sounds better to you than a greasy cheeseburger over time. You will be less likely to drink alcohol because you will see the difference that it makes in how your body feels the next day when you hit the gym again.