Ok, so let’s talk a bit about cheat meals or cheat days....
We have all heard about these and view them as one would an oasis in the desert (or dessert haha *ahem* sorry). We should probably start by first looking at what the definition of cheating is before we get into this. To “cheat” on something is defined in the oxford dictionary as “acting dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage” and “avoiding (a healthier you, for example) something by (bad) luck or skill.” So when you “cheat” on your diet, what you are actually doing is cheating on yourself. The only person losing out is you.
Now, let’s look a little deeper at our reasons for cheating on a diet plan. Now there are 2 types of cheating, the planned and the unplanned.
What exactly are the good and the bad reasons for cheating?
Some bad reasons for cheating are:
This is when we go off our diet because we are pressured into it out of politeness or wanting to fit in at a social gathering. We feel bad when we do not eat granny’s famous pudding. People may even comment on when we swap out the potato bake or bread roll for extra veggies or salad. Trust me, their interest in what we are eating is fleeting as they are wrapped up in their own choices (and possibly may even be feeling a smudge guilty for not being more controlled in their eating habits). So be prepared ahead of time. You do not ever owe anyone an explanation but if pressured, be prepared for these times with a social excuse such as “I have a sensitive stomach” or “I just don’t feel like a heavy meal today.”
This is the most unsatisfying and the most dangerous type of cheating. Just having the 1 piece of chocolate or candy, or grapping 1 or 2 fries from your child or partner’s plate, or just having that small sneaky piece of cake is the most unsatisfying type of cheating. It will undermine you both physically and psychologically (the guilt!) and can even result in you giving up the diet entirely because you are not seeing the results you want. Planned cheating can empower, but the unplanned, impulsive cheating will undo all your good work.
We have all done this. Found ourselves on the road and starving, so what do we do? We grab a stale sandwich or pie deal from a local garage, or we get something quick from a drive-through fast food place and gobble it down, and suddenly we are off diet, feeling guilty and unsatisfied. For what? For something we didn’t even enjoy. Plan ahead! Always (ALWAYS) have snacks on you that are LCHF. Prevention is better than cure, after all.
Having said all this we need to acknowledge that planned cheating can have some benefits. If you are planning on being on the LCHF diet long-term, then planned cheating can help prevent feelings of deprivation. It can also allow you to be more flexible, and add some variety into your lifestyle and food choices.
So, before you have that cheat meal, try this instead:
- Find a diet friendly alternative. There are so many recipes out there that will help satisfy that craving you have that are diet friendly. Make those your first choice!
- Trick that craving of yours. Say to yourself that before you eat that piece of cake, or delish dessert, or pizza, you will first eat something else instead. Drink a glass of water, then eat any of your diet friendly foods e.g. eggs and bacon, biltong! Loading up on these will actually reduce the craving to a controllable level and you will find you won’t end up cheating at all.
How can we “cheat” without falling off the wagon completely?
- Well, by first making sure it’s planned for as far as is humanly possible
- Do not do it frequently. Seriously.
- Choose small portions (1 bite, is better than I whole piece – do not regret wasting!)
- Choosing as low carb a food as possible – this seems obvious but you will be surprised how many people forget this is possible and still satisfy that craving
- Cheat just before or after exercising (but not all the time! – exercise is not an excuse to cheat)
- Do not beat yourself up over it (guilt helps no one, and will only lead to you quitting so don’t waste the precious mental energy on it)
- Return to the diet immediately, and
- Learn from your cheat moment
Take note that if you have cheated, it does not mean its the end of your diet. All you need to do is keep your common sense and do your very best to get back on track. If you do find that you constantly cheat on your diet then it is not the right diet for you.
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