There are reasons cheat days are important, but also reasons that cheating puts you on a slippery slope back into poor eating habits. Some unhealthy high calorie food is addictive. Just like the cigarette smoker who has just one cigarette after months of abstinence, it can put you right back into old eating habits if you allow that to happen. However, planned cheat days or a cheat meal you can’t resist, but still use portion control, has some benefits that even help you lose weight.
Use common sense when you cheat.
While cheating can provide a boost of resolve to continue on a healthy way of eating, using common sense is also important. If you clear out the mashed potatoes and gravy or dessert station at a buffet, you’re setting yourself back days or weeks of diligent healthy eating. Instead of declaring a spontaneous cheat day when you’re starving, plan a day to cheat and cheat in moderation, eating only portion sized servings of your favorite foods.
Planned cheat days can help you lose weight by tricking your body.
When you plan ahead, you can throw a calorie-rich meal into the mix and trick your body into thinking food is plentiful, helping it burn more calories. The body sends a message to the brain to increase leptin levels, which is the anti-starvation hormone that boosts the metabolism. That hormone tells the body that burning fat is okay. As long as you only cheat a little, one moderate meal a week, the extra calories won’t affect your progress and cheating becomes beneficial.
Adjust your meal times the day you cheat.
You don’t want to skip the meal right before your cheat meal. For instance, if you’re eating a cheat meal for dinner, don’t skip lunch, but do move the other meals a little later in the day. Grab a small snack for breakfast. Eat your mid morning snack for lunch and have your lunch a high-protein lunch, such as a small salad with boiled eggs or grilled chicken and a light vinaigrette or lemon juice dressing later in the day when you’d normally eat your mid afternoon snack. You won’t be starved at supper when you eat your cheat meal.
– Workout vigorously before your cheat meal. The extra calories won’t go to fat, but to replace the glycogen stores.
– If the cheating is at a restaurant, check the menu online ahead of time so you know what you want to order. It will help you get precisely what you crave without taking
forever to choose when you’re in the restaurant.
– Eat healthy, not junk at your cheat meal and drink plenty of water before you eat to help. In fact, drinking water before you order can help fill you up and you’ll be more likely to order less. Ice tea with a bit of lemon is also a filling drink.
– Eat slowly and savor every bite. Indulge in your cheat meal with friends and enjoy the conversation.