Is It Okay to Cheat on Your Diet Sometimes?

stackOfDoughnutsI get a lot of emails and questions about cheating on a diet or nutrition plan.

First things first, I’m not a big fan of the word “cheating.” It’s a loaded word and one that we often associate with dishonesty in a relationship. After the cheating comes the guilt, and then the guilt inspires nothing but feelings of shame and more negativity. Such downward cycles can be very destructive in any aspect of life – and food is no exception.

In fact, many people turn to food as a way to soothe and comfort, and thus the very act of cheating can create a cycle of binging, unhealthy choices and even more guilt. And even more binging.

You get the idea.

Instead of giving yourself cheat days, I’ve always said that it’s really about creating balance. Most of the time, eat the nourishing foods that your body needs. Eat the lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains that provide the nutrients and energy to fuel your life. And then some of the time, indulge in those foods that you crave.

I’ve always espoused the 80/20 rule for newbies. Eat healthy 80% of the time. It’s a great way to create balance in your life. After all, if you resist an unhealthy food that you crave – you’ll probably just crave it even more. The more you say to yourself, “I can’t eat ice cream,” the more you’re thinking about ice cream. And the more you think about ice cream, the more you’ll crave it.

Here’s the catch. Pay attention to how your body feels after the indulgence. How does your body feel after you eat the ice cream? Even without feelings of guilt or shame, our bodies don’t respond well to unhealthy foods. You may feel sluggish, tired or even slightly ill. When you pay attention to how unhealthy foods make your body feel, you may discover that you crave those unhealthy foods a little less.

Over time, the 80/20 rule may even become the 90/10 rule. Who knows?

In the comments below, share your favorite cheat balance food. Mine is pepperoni pizza. Mmm.

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Comments

  1. Chinese food… Yummy! 🙂

  2. This just makes me want to go eat ice cream… I’m gonna go eat some ice cream.

  3. So 20% of the food I eat can be ice cream…

  4. Cookies.. Oreos,

  5. Carne Asada Fries and Chimichangas.

  6. Here’s an idea: call it Reward Day!

  7. Charley says:

    Being aware of how you feel after eating bad shit is key. It’s what me off ice cream.

  8. christopher says:

    maybe pretzels?ice cream?too much sugar-i need to stay away from that.

  9. Victoria says:

    I think no one needs to ‘cheat’, if he finds a healthy alternative for his food. I never ate much ice cream, until I got my ice machine, and since I make it just out of yoghurt and fruits it’s not even unhealthy. 😉

  10. This is always the question that comes up…can I cheat sometimes? The 80/20 rule is interesting though. It does seem psychologically that the more you restrict yourself, the mind is fixated on what it can’t have. It is all about balance in the end and finding a lifestyle that’s healthier.

  11. Why people still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe all is presented on net?

  12. I never liked the word “cheating” . I believe in a balanced way of living in general and that applies also to food ! We all know what is good and what is bad for us ! And we can just choose !

  13. Having cheat days is something many bodybuilders do. The key thing is to strictly follow a clean diet most of the time.

  14. Rick Evans says:

    Hamburgers, and I don’t mean the fast food kind. I’m talking mom and pop style huge, greasy mouth watering delicious meaty burgers. My favorite is smothered with chili cheese and diced onions.

  15. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.

    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  16. Balance is the bottom line here guys. I mean, no one wants to be deprived of something, especially the foods that they totally love. It’s alright to treat yourself once in a while. It will make you feel better! Sometimes, you need a break from your strict diet.. As long as you know how to control it, you’ll never go wrong. Just know up to how many scoops of chocolate ice cream you’ll have in your platter. Enjoy cheating. 😀

Trackbacks

  1. […] Don’t deprive yourself of unhealthy foods you love. The more you try to resist unhealthy foods, the more you think about unhealthy foods – and the more you crave them. Allow yourself an occasional treat to break the cycle. It’s about balance. […]