Committing to a healthier lifestyle often requires giving up some of your favorite sweet or fried treats, that won’t help you with achieving your overall goals. Undoubtedly this is one of the biggest challenges you will face along your journey, because it requires you to give up on food that you actually love and enjoy eating.
The incorporation of cheat meals or cheat days into a diet plan can be helpful in this regard. The theory behind this strategy is that by allowing yourself brief periods of indulgence, you’ll be more likely to stick to your prescribed plan the majority of the time. How often people have cheat days/ meals is dependent on the dietary requirements and overall goals of the individual, but a general rule of thumb is they should be scheduled at least a week apart.
Being consistent with healthy eating and scheduling your cheat days at longer intervals will help you require fewer cheat days, as your body will start to crave healthier alternatives to food. Successfully implementing cheat days into your lifestyle requires a strong sense of self control, otherwise you are likely to overindulge, feel guilty and resort back to your old habits that include eating unhealthy food consistently.
Yes you need to be mindful of what you eat even on cheat days. Mindful, or intuitive, eating is paying attention to your body’s hunger cues and eating when you’re hungry but stopping when you’re full. It also involves slowing down while eating so that you can enjoy and savor
your meal. Being mindful is a great way to avoid bingeing during your cheat days. The key to fully enjoying your cheat days and not feel bad about them is to immediately get back on track with your plan the very next day. Remember cheat days are temporary and your reaching your goals should be your main priority in order for the change you are working hard for to occur.
Finally do not forget to drink water on cheat day and stay hydrated. Depending on the cheat meal, you could be consuming an excess of salt that you are not used to and water will help flush that out. Furthermore hunger is sometimes really just thirst and being overly hungry when consuming the cheat meal that can lead to overindulging. Have a glass of water or two leading up to your cheat meal. This will help you better gauge how hungry you are when eating it and stop you sooner than if you felt starve.
Written by: Lwimba Mufune (Co-founder @SWEAT)