Taking one meal off from healthy eating and eating the food you crave sounds unbelievable to some people, but it is a viable diet strategy. Research regarding cheat meals comes to very different conclusions. Some research says it works, while others say it slows progress. Giving yourself permission to stray from a strict diet and indulge in a burger or junk food can help you learn to eat healthier without persecuting yourself when you don’t eat that way. There are other reasons cheat meals can aid in weight loss, but only if you follow the rules.
Indulging yourself occasionally when you crave something or on special occasions with family and friends provides a pleasant break from dieting and creates a healthier attitude towards food. One problem dieters often have is breaking their diet then giving up forever. Eating “forbidden” food at one meal, especially if it was something you truly craved, is not a problem. Just avoid extending it beyond that meal. Eating multiple days of cheat meals can set you back several weeks.
Ignoring a craving can cause it to become an obsession. It can even cause you to continue to overeat food you don’t enjoy since it’s not satisfying. If you’ve been craving something, but aren’t sure what it is, pinpoint it before you begin a cheat meal. Ask yourself whether it’s a creamy, crunchy, or soft texture you crave. Is it something sweet, salty, or deliciously rich? Once you pinpoint it, go ahead and cheat. It satisfies your craving, causing you to eat less.
Feeling guilty feeds into the “bad food/good food” myth surrounding dieting and eating disorders. That can transfer to you feeling bad or good if you eat it or don’t strictly stick to the diet. If you’ve ever eaten a slice of cake or scoop of ice cream while you’re trying to lose weight, you often have that little voice in your head telling you that you should be ashamed. That’s not true. Sometimes, you do deserve a treat…just not a big portion daily.
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