Cheater, cheater. Pumpkin eater!

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Does anyone else remember that taunt or am I the only ancient one in the bunch? Hopefully later generations were more creative with their evil rhymes. People mistakenly assume that going on a diet or even just eating healthy involves never eating anything bad for you or yummy ever again. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Did my post last week not convince you?

Box of DonutsEating healthy isn’t a life sentence to food boredom and social segregation at parties. In fact, eating a larger calorie meal once or even twice a week can do wonders for you both physically and mentally.  The Kid and I have a long standing tradition of Friday Night Dinner where we eat out at a restaurant of choice. There are times like during contest prep that I can’t partake fully, but 99% of Fridays I have a cheat meal and look forward to it.

Your body is a pretty smart creation. If you are attempting to lose weight and have cut your calorie intake below your daily burn, your metabolism eventually slows in an effort to prevent the effects of starvation. This results in a sudden halt to your efforts and intense frustration on your part. By having a higher calorie meal, every now and then your body realizes you really are still in control of your senses and doesn’t sound the starvation alarm.

It also gives you something to look forward to. If I know that I can have anything I want for dinner on Friday, it makes resisting the donuts on Wednesday a little bit easier. The names for it vary – cheat meals, reward meals. It doesn’t really matter what you call them. What matters is how you implement them. It’s better to remain on plan for the majority of the week and have a cheat meal instead of picking at treats here and there throughout the week.

Picking invariably leads to over-sampling and random bites quickly add up to several hundred extra calories. This kind of eating also doesn’t give your taste buds time to “forget” how good something is. Cravings keep getting fed by grazing, leading you to give in, more cravings – and the cycle continues. By spreading your cheats out further, you give your taste buds and cravings time to adjust to life without and your cheats taste all that much more rewarding.

Foods should never be off limits but less healthy choices should be limited for obvious reasons. I make sure that my treat is something that I really want. If I’ve been craving a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting all week but the store only has a vanilla cupcake, I don’t indulge until I can get what I want. Otherwise I end up eating both cupcakes because the first wasn’t what I wanted.

I’m not suggesting you belly up to the all you can eat buffet as calories still count, but a slightly larger than usual meal of anything you want once a week or so can be good for you. Savor it slowly and fully enjoy your hard earned reward.

Do you cheat every now and then? My addiction obviously is cupcakes. I even have a board on Pinterest completely dedicated to them. What’s your favorite cheat?

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