In fact, let’s stop calling it cheating, as the word “cheating” makes one feel guilty. Allowing ourselves room to indulge in our food desires is realistic. Knowing that you can still enjoy some of your favorite foods each week will make the fact that you are eating healthier less of a punishment or a chore and more about living in a way that can still be fun. Get over the guilt trip, and get back with your program!
As dietitians consulting with clients on an individual basis, we have learned that it is unrealistic to think that they will never cheat. Imagine never again “indulging” in foods that you love no matter how healthy you plan to live. It would be extremely difficult and unlikely for most. A diet plan that is more of a lifestyle should include some wiggle room. In other words, you should plan to give yourself an occasional break-in the form of a “break” meal.
A free meal (not a day) only works when it is enough to feel indulgent, but not so much that you set yourself back or end up wanting to eat more. The key is balancing the bad with the good and finding what works for you individually. There are some individuals who have a hard time getting back on the program the next day. If you know this about yourself, be careful not to fall into this trap. Plus, having a specific treat to look forward to can help you avoid temptation and stay on track the rest of the days. A rule of thumb that I encourage with my clients is to indulge when it is worth it, and pass when it is not. For example, you say to yourself, “I’ll skip these mediocre-looking cookies because I know I’m going out to a great restaurant on Friday night!” Or ask yourself if this item is worth it. Would the treat be worth exercising a bit longer the next day just to be able to enjoy it guilt- free? The answer to that question is up to you.
At some point, we are going to cave and eat the brownie, so, we might as well just anticipate it to avoid a mental and emotional game of self-loathing and regret. Logically, there is no reason why a diet should end with a single slip-up. Remember, no person learning to eat healthy is perfect. You deserve good health and a healthy lifestyle! Enjoy an occasional imperfection and move on! The verdict is unanimous…not guilty!
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