No matter who you are, if you’re trying to eat healthy, you probably still have a favorite cheat meal. You know, those foods that you love, but are filled with empty or almost empty calories. It may be a comfort food, such as mac n’cheese or mashed potatoes, a whole meal from a fast food place or just one special food. I can name a few that I love, some that I eat for comfort and some that are just plain rich and gooey that I have to taste a little. The good news is that these aren’t banned completely when you eat healthy. You aren’t on a diet, just trying to eat healthier.
The difference between healthy eating and a diet.
When you go on a diet, you’re limited to specific foods. Maybe you’re allowed a slice of toast without butter and a poached egg for breakfast, while lunch is a green salad. Eating healthy means you have a wide variety of foods from which to choose. You can eat as much as you want when it comes to healthy foods, but limit the amount of high calorie, unhealthy choices. A diet always ends, but eating healthy never does. Even if you eat your favorite cheat food one day, you can still eat healthy the next.
Cheat foods can slow your progress, but not by much if you eat them sparingly.
Some people tell me they absolutely can’t eat any cheat food because once they start, they don’t stop until the whole amount is gone. If it’s a potato chip, they eat the bag. There’s no “one donut” setting in their brain. That’s easy to solve. When you buy a box of donuts, call a friend. Freezer wrap all but one and stash them in their freezer….better yet, instead of grocery store donuts in a box, buy one bakery donut. Avoid buying cheat foods, but if you do, buy the smallest amount you can get….even if it is more expensive to do it that way. You’ll be limited by what you have on hand.
Don’t eat the cheat foods in the car.
I’ve had a great deal of experiences myself and with clients who bought the cheat food in the store and then ate it before leaving the parking lot, when they parked the car and went back for more. One woman was addicted to Nabisco Bisco Sugar Wafers. She said she bought an empty box of them and a filled box in the grocery. (The empty box came from her eating them while shopping.) When she got to the car, she opened her second box and ate them before she started the car. To make a long story short, by her count, she ate four boxes before leaving the parking lot. Now that’s a bad habit. Rule one, don’t eat any food before you check out. Rule two, wait until you get home to open the food. Rule three, if you think you’ll eat the whole box, don’t buy it or shop with a friend and have them divide it and take some of the cheat food home with them.
If the cheat food is homemade, learn how to make it with fewer calories or more nutrition. Pizza with a cauliflower crust and veggies is delicious.
Don’t quit just because you ate a cheat food. Tomorrow is a new day. One day of cheating should never throw out a lifetime of healthy eating. That’s why it’s not a diet but a healthy lifestyle.
Plan for a cheat. Over the holiday time, you know you’ll be cheating. Fill up on healthy foods first, so you have limited room for the cheat food. (No matter how much you love sugar cookies, you can’t eat four boxes if you’re already full.)
Keep healthy snacks available and eat them often.