It might sound odd for a nutritionist to give you tips on how to cheat on your diet, but when it’s done in the right way, strategic treats can lead to a much happier relationship with food and even better weight loss results. Why? Because it’s so much easier to consistently stick to a plan when there is flexibility rather than an all or nothing approach.
At our clinic, we don’t use the word ‘cheat’. Cheating implies doing something wrong and enjoying your favourite foods in a mindful way is far from wrong. It’s one of life’s great pleasures. Instead, we prefer treat; everyone loves a treat!
Here is our four-step guide to including treat meals in your diet.
Rather than spontaneously over indulging because you’ve had a bad day, make a plan for your treat meal. Choose a time and situation when you can relax and enjoy it fully. This will help you to feel in control as well as giving you something to look forward to.
It’s also a good idea to plan the frequency of your treat meals. If you’re on a focused weight loss plan then your treats might be limited to once a month or so, whereas if you’re maintaining your weight, one treat meal a week tends to work well.
Choose something you’re really going to love. Drink the wine. Eat the carbs. Order the dessert. Whatever your thing is, go for it. You want to finish a treat meal feeling like ‘that was totally worth it and I enjoyed every mouthful’. That said, it’s important to strike a balance between a little indulgence and not going completely OTT so still remember to eat mindfully and stop when you’re full.
DON’T FEEL GUILTY
Food guilt is a horrible feeling. Plan it well and allow yourself the odd meal off without feeling guilty. It’s important to feed the soul as well as the body.
RETURN TO YOUR USUAL HEALTHY DIET AFTER
Things can start to spiral when a treat meal turns into a treat day, which turns into a treat weekend and so on…
Yes, there will be times like birthdays and holidays where you might indulge a little more than usual but for your average week it’s good to stick to just one meal. A routine, like a Friday evening takeaway or meal out, works well for some people. For others, flexibility works better.
It’s important to bear in mind that we are all different. Different treat strategies work for different people and it’s important to take into account where you’re at on your health and / or weight loss journey.
Food should be enjoyed. Healthy food can absolutely be made enjoyable, but chocolate, pizza and pasta are also delicious. Completely depriving yourselves of these foods deprivation is rarely necessary. Whilst diet extremes grab headlines, what we should all really be aiming for is moderation, balance and a healthy relationship with food.
If you’d like our help with optimising your health and reaching your ideal weight while enjoying your food at the same time, please do get in touch.