Your guide to cheat meals.
For days you’ve been good. You’ve said “no” to soda, passed the overflowing basket of bread, and turned down desserts. But lately you’ve been craving foods that aren’t on your diet plan. What you wouldn’t do for a piece of pizza, a beer, and a bowl of ice cream! Well, there’s good news for you. Diet experts claim it’s okay to cheat on your diet every once in a while. In fact, an occasional cheat meal may actually help your weight-loss efforts rather than cause them harm. You just have to be careful.
Studies show that giving in to your cravings may help you maintain your diet for longer because you won’t feel completely deprived. Cheat meals (when done the right way) can also give your metabolism a quick boost to overcome any weight-loss plateau you’ve been battling.
Sound intriguing? Keep reading to find out how to continue losing weight by leaving your diet behind for a short time now and then.
Plan for It
Failure to plan is planning to fail, so planning is your best bet when cheating on your diet. Allow yourself one cheat meal a week. At the beginning of each week, look at your calendar and plan ahead. Is there a night you’re going out with friends or celebrating a birthday? If so, make that the meal you cheat. But that’s not the only planning you should do. Plan to eat fewer calories earlier in the day as you anticipate a large meal. Then, plan to eat whatever food you’ve been craving, whether it’s pasta, fried chicken, or chocolate pie. And take comfort knowing you’ll be back on the wagon in the morning.
Cheat meals won’t be of any benefit if you lack self-control and over-indulge. You can enjoy your food, but moderation is still required. In other words, don’t pig out! Binging on junk is not going to do you any favors, so eat until you’re satisfied—not until you’re so full you can’t move. Two pieces of pizza are acceptable, but the whole pie isn’t. Also, restaurant portions are usually more than you need so plan to split with a friend or ask for a smaller portion size. If you find it difficult to stop eating, then cheat meals may not be a good idea.
Minimize Fat Gains
You can decrease the chance your cheat meal will be stored as fat by depleting your glycogen stores. Your body uses sugar in your system for energy, but if that sugar tank is running on empty, the carbs you eat will replace the sugars instead of turning to fat. Use up your extra sugar stores with a challenging workout the morning before your cheat meal.
Enjoy Every Bite
All week you’ve been anticipating your cheat meal, so make it count. Take your time and chew slowly. Savor each flavor that comes across your taste buds. Eating slowly can also help you recognize feelings of fullness and prevent overeating. If dining with friends, it will give you ample opportunity to talk and enjoy their company.
You’ll eat fewer calories, fill up faster, and reduce your chances of feeling bloated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your meal. Since cheat meals are often high in sodium, water helps counteract sodium’s effect on your body and replenish your body’s lost fluids.
Hungry, Not Famished
While it’s a good idea to cut back on calories prior to your cheat meal, you don’t need to starve yourself. Eating a cheat meal when you’re famished may set you up for over-indulgence. When you’re feeling deprived, weak, and extra-hungry, you’re more likely to eat more calories than needed and negate your dieting efforts the rest of the week. Eat a balanced lunch that includes protein and fiber and then skip your afternoon snack in preparation for your cheat meal.