Yes, you heard me right. I’m (Therese) giving you permission to eat that piece of cake, or chocolate, or cookie, or pizza, or, well, fried anything. This probably sounds hypocritical since I’ve written about substituting such foods for healthier options. And yeah, okay, it kind of does. But, let me explain…Words Matter.
What Happens When You’re Told Not to Do Something?
Don’t, not, and no are some of the strongest words in any language. Growing up, I’m sure most of us heard things like, “Don’t touch that,” “Don’t do that,” “This [whatever] is not for you,” “No, you can’t have that.” When we hear the words don’t, not, and no, the brain focuses on that “thing” we aren’t supposed to touch, do, have, etc. And it ends up being all we can think about.
There’s a reason I’m telling this story.
How many times have you been told to stay away from that metaphorical piece of cake? The same thing happens that is described above. When we are told NOT to eat “something,” that “something” is ALL we think about. And that “something” is usually a food we crave for whatever reason, maybe associated with comfort, happy moments, or triggered by sight or smell.
Now, I’m certainly not advocating going on a binge of eating junk food. Neither am I saying to totally eliminate them from your diet so they never touch your lips again. What I am saying is that you can allow for small or occasional indulgences, rather than completely denying yourself. But, it requires some strategy so that 80 to 90 percent of the time you are eating a good, clean, healthy diet.
Strategies for Cheating (Cheat Meal and item…)
Here are a few cheating strategies so you keep your diet on track and avoid psychological guilt or feelings of failure while losing or maintaining weight.
- Schedule a cheat meal. Plan a favorite dinner of pizza, burger and fries, etc. Refrain from doing this too frequently—1x/week max. The more cheat meals that are eaten, the longer it can take to reach a weight loss goal.
- Schedule a cheat day. Plan only 1 day/month to eat whatever you like that day. Avoid this strategy if it tends to cause a lingering return to unhealthy eating beyond the one day. Also, after the cheat day be sure to eliminate those items from your kitchen.
- Have one small “treat” during the day. This could be one small scoop of ice cream after dinner, or a piece of chocolate midday, etc. The key word here is small. Additionally, only keep 1-2 of these items in your kitchen at a time and allow them to run out before another purchase.
The overall idea is to allow yourself to modestly indulge, which may help stick to an otherwise healthy diet. The win here is that the cravings won’t control you anymore. Rather, you control the cravings. There is power in that!