Let’s be honest, it’s a lot more ‘fun’ gaining weight than losing it. But it’s not as enjoyable when you step onto the scale and realise you had a tad too much fun with food. Trying to stay healthy and in shape is not about starving yourself or never enjoying those ‘cheat’ meals you love but rather about moderation and balance. Giving yourself just 3 cheat days a week is enough to impact your gut health as badly as a consistent diet of junk food and even those of us with the willpower of steel still fall prey to the ‘splurge’ every now and again. Here are some tips to help you keep control of the munchies.
- Keep Calm
We have all been ‘there’ and by there, I mean, when one cheat snack has snowballed into a cheat weekend and all control is lost. Don’t freak out-yet. If you have been sticking to your healthy diet well up until then and continue to do so 90% of the time, then the odd out-of-control cheat food session is not going to have huge ramifications. A good place to start is keeping a food diary where you track your meals. This way you will feel in control and may be surprised to see how easy it is to skip meals or grab a quick refined-sugar snack.
1.Change your Mindset
A lot of the time we make ourselves feel guilty by using phrases like, ‘I can’t eat that’ and ‘it’s my cheat day’ because they create a negative connotation. Focus less on the words and their meanings and more on consciously enjoying that cheat food you really love. For example, if pizza is your thing, then have a slice and relish in it. If you feel guilty while eating it then where is the enjoyment? Plus, you may end up falling prey to the guilt and overindulging.
2. Don’t Give up
Often when people have decided on a traditional ‘cheat’ day, they adopt the all-or-nothing mentality where they think, ‘I might as well throw in a slab of chocolate and some speckled eggs seeing as though I’m eating a pizza tonight’, thinking it won’t make much difference. But throwing in the towel on your whole day does a lot more damage than what one bad meal would. Allow yourself to eat what you really want in that moment and then continue with your normal, healthier eating pattern.
Although there isn’t much you can do to reverse the damage of a cheat meal, you can still make some healthy food choices to get you back on the right track and help reset your body. Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin which helps powers your body’s own detoxification pathways. Water and potassium-rich foods like avocado, bananas and dark leafy greens, can help balance sodium levels in the body and reduce bloating. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi offset the damage done to your digestive tract.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying moments of indulgence in some of your favourite foods- YOLO right? – as long as you are keeping it in moderation and not a regular occurrence. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a moment of weakness; just continue to make healthy food choices and stay active. Remember, it’s about a healthy mind and body!
What are your favourite cheat foods?