Somebody following a restrictive eating lifestyle or a strict diet knows the yearning of a desired for ‘cheat meal’. That single meal one is allowed to indulge in, once a week, where they eat food one has been craving for, allowing yourself to go on a break. Consume foods that you aren’t allowed to have, as part of the diet, and once the longing is over you can come back to your healthy eating plan with a re-energized and new determination to stay in the sequence of healthy eating.
No matter how hard one tries to follow the healthy regime, they are bound to slip-up and misuse this right to binge and overindulge, only to regret it later. But as it I said ‘where there is a will, there's always a way’. Here is how one can make the utmost of their cheat meal by making astute choices, the primary one of which is to call it a “reward meal” as the term aids reinforce an optimistic rationale.
Here are 6 steps to reward yourself without tilting the scale to the heftier side…
Don’t binge: Just for the reason that it says ‘cheat’, doesn’t mean that one should splurge the complete day. Be mindful of what you’re consuming. This meal is a reward to eat what one likes and not a hall pass to eat whatever one can. Binging would unbutton your full week’s hard work. Don’t go overboard and have a full day of eating a lot of additional calories or eating a lot of junk food.
Upsurge Leptin levels: Leptin levels drip when the body wits a calorie deficit. Increase levels of leptin by surging carb consumption. The “anti-starvation” hormone identified as leptin is accountable for conveying hunger messages to the body. Studies have shown that carbohydrates impact levels of leptin. Eat a well-proportioned meal that comprises proteins, carbohydrates and fats with leptin foods to aid turn off the growl and give you a sating feeling.
Indulge sensibly: Some meals are better at helping you stay on track with your health and fitness goals. A meal high in carb with moderate protein can be such a meal. And a high-carb, moderate-protein meal can help you stay on track with your diet. A meal high in fat causes immediate fat storage than a high-carb meal.
Re-imagine your favourite foods in a healthy avatar without compromising on taste. Use new ingredients, whole foods and seasonal vegetables to rustle up a tasty yet healthy and rewarding meal.
Don’t starve yourself: Some people deprive themselves by severely restricting their food intake for days in advance before the D-day. While a caloric buffer can be a smart strategy, but having a feast by depriving oneself in advance almost always backfires. You’re more likely to overeat if you starve yourself.
Eating a meal high in protein, and fiber and low on starch maximizes satiety for the lowest number of calories. You won’t be starving and won't unleash a hungry you on cheat days. The key is to stay consistent observing the discipline.
Control thy portions: On days when you take a break from your strict dieting regime, don't let go of yourself in gluttony through the day as it will only undo an entire week's hard work, bringing you back where you started. Eating through the entirety of the day would only encourage more cravings.
Reward yourself with a piece or two of pizza instead of the whole pie. Be mindful of what you eat on your off days. Stay the course of small portions to ensure a well-planned and portioned meal.
Plan your meals: Yup. Planning your rewarding meals is akin to winning half the battle. Knowing when you're going to reward yourself on your diet and with what will allow you to look forward to it. Maintain a food log of everything you consume. It will help you identify healthier choices and give you the control of making better food decisions.
You can use up to 20% of our weekly caloric intake through reward meals and the remaining 80% through a well-balanced meal plan. Include grains on your off-days as well, limiting fruit and unhealthy fat content.
(The writer is adviser of integrative lifestyle and nutrition at Purenutrition.in)