Will One Cheat Meal A Week Ruin My Diet?
Maintaining a healthy weight requires flexibility, determination, and discipline. However, there are times you may find yourself engaging in diet cheating to satisfy your cravings, and possibly even employing tactics that ensure you are not caught or seen by family or friends.
But how much harm can cheating on your diet actually cause and will one cheat meal a week completely ruin your diet? And how do you keep your cheat days under control if you are thinking about incorporating them into your diet?
These are questions that many dieters who are embracing the new “diet cheating” trend are asking. Find out what exactly diet cheating is along with helpful advice by learning what Megan Ayala says about this growing dieting trend.
What Is Diet Cheating?
Diet cheating has grown in popularity in recent times, largely due to social media influence. It involves indulging in your free choice of foods away from your planned diet meal plan on planned days or randomly throughout the week. Many diet cheaters choose a single set cheat day once a week and then stick to their diet plan for the remaining six days.
The thinking behind the diet cheat day strategy is that by allowing yourself to indulge in the “forbidden foods” briefly, you will be more likely to stick to your diet plan the majority of the time. But how accurate is this motivational approach?
Not Suitable For Certain Diet Plans or Individuals
With the rise in obesity cases in the United States and many other countries around the world, there has been the urgency to adopt healthy eating habits.
The concept behind weight loss is pretty simple, burn more calories than you consume and you should begin to see noticeable weight loss results quickly depending on how many calories you are cutting back on each day. Therefore, cheating on your diet plan when you are yet to attain the desired healthy weight is counterproductive, potentially unhealthy, and will only see your end goals delayed.
The concept of diet cheating doesn’t work for certain diets, such as individuals on a ketogenic diet which are not allowed to engage in diet cheating. Diet cheat meals are also not recommended for individuals who struggle emotionally or those diagnosed with past serious eating disorders that could lead to binge eating and racking up a large surplus of calories in one day that could offset all the gains you made during the week.
Engaging in Diet Cheat Days Can Work with Discipline
The big question is whether diet cheating once a week can work. Diet cheating really only becomes harmful if you fail to maintain your discipline and adhere to your diet plan and daily calorie intake goals the remainder of the week.
The best thing is to consult your nutritionist and plan how to incorporate cheat days without deviating too much from your weight loss diet plan.
Moreover, the best time to really start engaging in cheat meals is after you have attained your desired weight and are beginning to adapt the “maintaining your ideal weight” phase. If you wish to begin diet cheating sooner, you can either incorporate extra exercise during your planned cheat days to offset the extra calories you consume or set your cheat days at the end of the week as a sort of reward for sticking to your diet during the week in the lead up to your cheat day.
The negative impacts of diet cheat days can be minimal if you have the discipline to partake in your diet plan religiously for the majority of the week and are still meeting your targets. If you tend to be a rather undisciplined person, diet cheating can lead to progressively cheating more and more on your diet, thus creating a higher tendency to binge eat on cheat days, says Megan Ayala.
Megan further contends that practicing moderation when satisfying your junk food cravings is the key to limiting your cheat day calories.
Strive to Eliminate Diet Cheating
Even if you decide diet cheating is something you wish to try, it’s really best to work towards eliminating it completely in the long run. Too often, people looking to start a diet end up selecting a diet plan that work against them, says Megan Ayala. They often begin following a diet that is too strict and inflexible too soon, rather than easing into a diet plan that allows you to progressively cut back on calories and increase exercise.
Ideally, dieting is something that you start gradually, allowing your body to adjust to the various dietary changes your body will experience. If you are obese, you may not have the luxury of taking things as slowly. Dieting becomes more essential and you may need to work a bit harder and faster to get yourself out of the danger zone of health complications as quick as you safely can.
Sticking to a diet begins with being mindful about your weight, and not putting too much pressure on yourself. Everyone’s body is different and your body may need a certain amount of time to adapt to the change in calorie intake until you are comfortable enough with your diet plan to beat the urge to engage in diet cheat days.
Practical Solutions to Overcome Diet Cheating
Megan Ayala says that the urge for diet cheating is nearly inevitable for most individuals, especially those looking to stick to a healthier diet long term or are undertaking a longer duration weight loss diet plan. For those instances, she offers insightful solutions that can help you work your way around engaging in cheat meals or make them have less of a negative impact.
The first solution is to steer clear of unhealthy junk foods for your cheat foods. According to a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, the consumption of junk foods is largely responsible for the high obesity rates we see today since they contain processed carbs and sugars.
Therefore, ensure that you slowly rid your house of the worst junk foods and learn to seek out healthier cheat foods that will still appease your urges for a treat but won’t be as harmful as your normal go-to junk foods. The goal is to remove temptations from your fridge and pantry, while also psychologically preparing your mind to slowly overcome diet cheating.
The second solution is to practice patience during your dieting period. Weight loss is a marathon and not a sprint. Noticeable results will often take time depending on your own personal physiological traits, discipline, and determination. As long as you are continuing to lose weight or at least heading towards your weight loss goal instead of away from it, give yourself a pat on the back and stay positive that you will eventually reach your goal.
Finally, it would be best to be mindful of what and how much you eat whenever you are out with family and friends. There is always the tendency to eat unhealthy foods and drinks such as alcohol when there is peer pressure to do so or simply from not wanting to feel like the odd person out. This of course only increases your calorie intake for the day and distracts you from your set goals.
Despite whatever occasion or people you are around, try to always stay within your day’s set diet plan calorie intake while you’re trying to reach your weight goal and then also to maintain your desired healthy weight since you don’t want to see all your hard work wasted by sliding backwards again.
We hope you’ve learned a bit more about what diet cheating is and how you can safely incorporate it into your diet in the short term if that is something you are thinking about trying in the beginning as you adapt to your new diet.
Dieting should not be about a short challenging episode in your life that focuses on losing weight, but rather a long term lifestyle change that sees you maintaining a healthy weight and consuming healthy foods that will enrich your life and keep you in optimum health both physically and mentally.
The longer you practice eating healthy and exercising regularly, the less challenging it becomes. It simply becomes a habit, albeit a very good one, For many, both eating healthy and exercising regularly often actually become enjoyable and you learn to seek out others that will only encourage and enhance your new healthy lifestyle.