Got some serious fitness goals? Chances are you’re wedded to an equally serious meal plan. And while strict eating is a fast-track to results, it can also leave you dreaming about chocolate. For this reason, many health enthusiasts implement “cheating” – a diet time-out that lets you loosen the rules for a meal or even a day. While it may sound like you’re cheating yourself, a little lapse here and there can become your greatest weapon for success.
Don’t be fooled – dipping into cheat meals is a slippery slope. It takes discipline. So it’s best to set up some smart strategies.
Measure your might
It’s true that you ‘can’t out run a bad diet’ and many people overdo cheating to the point that all their hard work becomes undone. We all know that one biscuit can quickly turn into six, and mastering the cheat involves mustering some serious willpower. So always set strict guidelines and stick to them.
Have a plan
Rather than see cheat days as an invitation to binge, organise it around a meal, or view it in a positive light, such as saying “I’ll be more relaxed about my dinner”. This will help the cheat to become an organic part of your diet plan. That way you’ll most likley view it as a positive reward to look forward to after a week of hard work. If you dive in head-first with zero guidelines, you’ll end up turning a cheeky dessert into a weekend of destruction.
Turn cheating into treating
Let’s be honest, cheating has negative connotations. That’s why it helps to refer to them as treats. It’s a welcome reminder that you don’t need to feel guilty – you’re simply satisfying a craving and balancing out all your efforts. No one can follow a perfect diet, so the odd treat is perfectly acceptable.
Tweak your naughty into nice
It’s easy to go overboard with cheat meals. And even the best of us struggle to stop at just a few scoops of ice-cream. So why not treat yourself without going OTT? A touch of creativity can turn naughtier meals into healthier ones. Simply swap your takeaway burger for a home-made version; swap gelato for sorbet; or create nachos with wholegrain crispbread and substitute meat for beans for an added fibre and antioxidant boost. As long as your tastebuds are getting some sizzle, you’ll still feel satisfied.
Break a sweat before breaking your diet
No matter how planned or measured a “cheat” is, a lot of people still end up feeling guilty. The best way to alleviate this is to work diet treats around workouts. Commit to a long run or hard weight-lifting sesh and reward your effort with a relaxed meal. This way, you can stop worrying about those extra calories and, instead, focus on staying on track.