Reward yourself with small treats
Anupama Menon, nutritionist and food coach, says how cheat meals can be a part of your diet to reach your health goals
Cheat meals are an important part of any healthy diet routine or lifestyle that will finally help you reach your fitness or health goal. They are your “heart meals” like I typically like to call it, each of us having a little part of our palettes in our hearts however health or food conscious we may be.
And these are important. Food has a deep connection with our psyche, our memories and our happiness quotient that spreads wide wings when we indulge and eat what our heart desires. And that feeling is pure bliss. Never let it go. Weave it cleverly into your routine to keep your efforts going and sustaining!
But how do you do this without damaging all that you have worked for — the exercise, the food regulation, the portion control which finally paved way for good results?
Remember that a cheat meal is a reward for your hard work and effort to keep your fitness goals going. So plan for it, but do not fret over it. You have eaten right throughout the week, a cheat meal or two in the weekend cannot and will not take over your life! But, that also means that throughout the week you have to be careful not to reach out to anything, not that little piece of chocolate luring you from the refrigerator or that ‘1 teaspoon’ of mixture that looks harmless. Leave your cheat for one or two blocks of 2-3 hours where you indulge in what you want to eat. Do not scatter them in little minuscule pockets through the week. Keep it compact.
Do not cheat through the weekend. The weekend typically comprises seven main meals lasting from a Friday night to a Sunday night. So if you work hard at your food routine through the week and cheat throughout the weekend, that’s 30 per cent of your week that’s been washed down without any regulation. This won’t work and will ruin your pace towards your goal!
During your cheat, eat without guilt, eat without moderation, eat as much as you want. Your otherwise fitness and food eating practices will have naturally shrunk your stomach capacity to a healthy limit. Hence you may not be able to eat as much as you may want or may have visualised. But when you tell yourself without guilt that you are going to cheat and eat whatever of and how much ever of anything you want, it sends a very positive vibe to yourself, satisfying your cravings and setting you free in your mind that this lifestyle is sustainable and not a binding one! There will now be never a question of ‘how long can I do this?’
Make sure that in your food routine your digestive and gut health is taken care of. If you digest well and have a great gut, remember that not only will your health will multiply manifold but your body will be able to handle your cheats well too! So add in those probiotics, bring on those healthy spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves, drink no less than 3 to 3.5 litres of water a day and infuse your water with veggies and fruits.
Last but not the least, always remember that your body gets used to what you get it used to. When you cheat twice a week and yet achieve your goals, your confidence soars. Remind yourself that sustainability is as important as the goal itself. So get your body used to the cheats, after all you are eating healthy 19 meals a week which is a sure majority to the two innocuous cheats saved up for the week!
Life is a pleasure and food is an essential part of who we are and how we feel. When we eat, we can be careful, not guilty. Guilt and food cannot hold hands, all we need to do is find a way to reward ourselves as we remind ourselves that it’s all about finding the right balance.