The New Cheat Meal: Planning a "Break" from Dieting
You have calorie counts, workouts, food diary’s, weight logs and every other manner of diet lingo in your head from the day you start trying to drop pounds. From time to time, your mind needs a break. Because extreme diet restrictions are hard to maintain for the rest of your life, planning to indulge goes along with keeping healthier habits. Here are three widely used ways to stick to your new healthy habits without missing out on food that may be less than healthy. While it is important to note that research has shown that dieters who stick to their regimen across the week and year maintain their weight loss better than those who don't, planning a break can help you get back into a groove instead of giving up on a healthy lifestyle.
The 80/20 Rule
You may have heard this attributed to days, whereby you eat healthy 5 days a week and take the weekends off, but the 80-20 rule has a number of iterations. You can set your diet to include only 20% processed foods with all else fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, only eat 80% of the food on your plate to control portions, or aim for feeling only 80% full before you stop eating at meals. All of these strategies are meant to help you learn to stop to control overeating or overindulging. Once you put this rule into place, it may turn into a habit.
You may have heard of taking the weekends off, but that doesn’t mean you eat without abandon. More sensible ways to take a break during weekends can ease the administration and time it takes to create healthy habits. That means reverting that time to releasing stress and enjoying relaxation. While maintaining healthy eating, you can lay off logging every meal on the weekends and log them on Mondays. You might also leave weekends for light workouts or relaxation after hard workouts during the week. Weekends can also be the only days you eat outside of your kitchen. Another strategy for weekends only is only having one drink on each weekend day. Others also try only having dessert for dinner on weekends.
Unlike the entire weekend, free meals are only to be enjoyed once in a day. We won't call it a cheat meal, but you planned it, are cognizant of what you're doing, and you're aware of the consequences of your actions. If you do not plan to log the calories in your free meals, I’d suggest only one free meal a week. Your favorite dish at a restaurant could do a terrible job on your caloric deficit, so practice portion control with only half a dessert or only one glass of a sugary beverage you might like. You can also split up your free meal by having dessert one day a week, one beverage of your choice on a separate day, and a hearty dish on another.
Serving Size or 100-calories Only
No, I’m not talking about eating those small packages of candy. One study showed that consumers actually eat enough of those to make up for eating a whole candy bar. What I am talking about is limiting certain high-calorie foods to one serving a day to ensure you stay within your daily caloric limit. You may have heard of discretionary calories, 260 to be exact in a 2000-calorie-a-day diet. That’s a little over 10% of your daily energy intake if you’re eating less calories. Whether it’s chips, chocolate or cheese, stick to one serving or 100 calories of certain processed foods. If the rest of your plate is whole foods, not only will you meet your daily nutritional needs, you’ll also have some calories to spare for a free meal sometime this weekend, that is 80% of one.
If specific foods are your issue, here are more Strategies to Indulge.
How do you splurge, but stay in control while eating high-calorie foods?