Amy Barnes gives you some helpful tips on dieting and why it’s OK to be a cheater and have cheat meals in your nutrition plan.
You had a horrible day at work. You hate your boss. On your drive home you discover you have road rage and are thinking about driving right to anger management class. What do you do when you have a bad day? Most of us want to EAT. And I’m not talking about a salad. I don’t know anyone that has a stressful day at work and immediately craves raw carrots or tuna. We want a sweet or salty ridiculously large portion of something we know isn’t good for us. The bottom line is most of us (especially women) have a tendency to indulge in REALLY bad food when we have had a bad day. If you’re expecting some sort of psychobabble about how to avoid stressful days and then subsequent bad food choices, you’re reading the wrong blog. I am here to tell you that real healthy lifestyle involves dealing with these days in a matter of fact way. Go ahead and get on with it, eat your unhealthy food, and then get back to your damn healthy living. Don’t dwell on it. Move on and start making healthy choices at your next meal!
Michelle Obama is human. I can’t imagine the stressful days she has EVERYDAY… She promotes the “Let’s Move! Campaign”, but when she sat down after she had a “stressful day” as the first lady and decided to eat a burger, fries and a milkshake, she received scrutiny from many observes. I mean really… if we had the level of stress this woman has, imagine how we would look after eating to calm our nerves! Several nutritionists around the globe came to her defense, and so do I. Whether you are trying to lose 100 lbs or if you are a fitness guru – the rare occasion that you indulge is not only normal but is also healthy! Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean certain foods have to be banned from your tastes buds. It only means that those certain foods should only be consumed every once in a while.
For Michelle it’s burgers and fries, for me, it’s Chinese food! I don’t eat fried rice and egg rolls in the shadows of darkness. I preach health and fitness for a living; I mean come on, I was a fat girl so I like the way food tastes! So I make a conscious decision to indulge – on occasion. The solution is being able to control how often you splurge and not let a little cheat open a floodgate for bad decisions.
When we get fixated with perfection and criticize people who make the slightest wrongdoing with their diets, we are setting people up for failure. This is why so many women decide to “diet.” Otherwise known as: eat healthy foods only, exercise regularly, give up all bad foods entirely. Unfortunately, we believe that if we can’t adopt a healthy lifestyle ALL of the time – if we aren’t PERFECT on our diets – then we probably won’t have success at doing it at all. This all or nothing mentality is really keeping us from reaching our goals.
I believe in letting people be human. I want to help people make lasting changes. In the history of the world, one meal has never caused high blood pressure or high cholesterol. These health problems are created by a continued consumption of unhealthy foods. The other end of the spectrum is equally true. A health body is created by continued consumption of healthy foods, and one meal will not change that. It’s completely unrealistic to think you are never going to eat pizza with your friends or celebrate with a piece of birthday cake once a year. One meal or one dessert doesn’t destroy a healthy lifestyle. It’s human. We shouldn’t criticize people for indulging because the occasional cheat meal can actually keep people on track. Think about who would do better sticking to a healthy lifestyle: A person who thinks they have to stay on their diets ALL the time and they have to avoid temptation foods at all costs, (seriously? Sucks to be you….) or someone who regularly eats healthy but you know you can have your favorite guilty pleasure once in a while? Just knowing you don’t have to go into starvation mode on your most favorite temptation foods, can help you to stay on track. Besides when you cheat every once in awhile, you enjoy your favorite food so much more than if you were to cheat everyday!
Here are some guidelines to keep your indulgences in check:
1. Set your limits. If you want pizza, chicken wings and a strawberry shake, put limits on how often you are going to allow yourself to have that meal because it’s a calorie overload. Or instead, maybe you just eat just one of the three, instead of ALL three. Your very next meal after a cheat should be a healthy one. Get right back into the groove with healthy choices!
2. Don’t justify eating bad EVERYDAY! A cheat meal should be more of a rarity than a habit, so don’t let treating yourself turn into a daily thing. Its easy to use a stressful day at work as an excuse to binge.. EVERYNIGHT! I have hundreds of recipes to curb the sweet tooth or craving for salt. There are plenty of recipes and options out there that are less bad for you. Smaller portions are a great idea! Just because the slogan says you can’t have just one, doesn’t mean it’s actually true. You could ACTUALLY have “just one” and move on. I want to see you succeed!
3. Calories in, calories out! If you have a large pepperoni pizza or a supersize McDonalds meal – whatever your splurge may be – connect it to exercise and working out. The bigger your meal, the bigger your workout. Just keep in mind that people have the tendency to underestimate the calories they consume and overestimate the calories they burn!!
So, go ahead and treat yourself once in a while, I do and Michelle Obama does. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean your healthy lifestyle is over. It only means you are human.