Even if we’re being super healthy, we all need an occasional cheat day to retain our sanity. Well timed take-aways are an absolute joy and if we’ve been strictly avoiding sugar for weeks on end, you start seeing Cadbury’s in your dreams.
Having an occasional treat is not a disaster, the important thing is not to immediately think that since you’ve been “bad”, your whole diet is ruined and you just give up completely. Everything in moderation! But that includes a moderate amount of edible joy! So if you’re going to treat yourself to some beige food and chocolate delights, here’s how to be strategic about it so this indulgence has a minimal impact on your metabolism and overall diet progress.
Don’t starve yourself all day
Very often, when someone knows they’ll be getting a take-away or going to a fancy restaurant for a meal, they won’t eat all day in preparation for the feast. This isn’t a good idea – if you go into an indulgent meal starving then you’re that much more likely to binge and eat way more than you would otherwise. Make sure you eat, just eat extra healthy all day. For example, if you know your planned dinner is going to be nothing but carbs and fat – as the best meals are – then make sure to get plenty of water and fibre into your system first.
Avoid nasty consequences
If you’ve been eating very healthily for a while, a sudden splurge of carbs and fats can be a rather nasty shock to the system. You’ll certainly have fun during the meal, but afterwards you may get heartburn, bloating or rather unpleasant bowel movements. Help your tummy recover by taking some precautions. Take Nexium or a delayed release antacid ahead of time, to stave off any possible indigestion before it even starts and maybe have some Gaviscon at the ready for after. Also, have some probiotics to help restore your gut’s good bacteria after the onslaught of fried and sugary goodies. Kombucha or Kefir are great options to have after your meal.
Exercise and fasting
No we don’t mean go to the gym to “earn” your indulgence. It’s a good idea to go for a walk after a heavy meal. This mild exercise stimulates the metabolism and boosts blood circulation, so you won’t feel as lethargic and bloated after your dinner. If you’re going out to a restaurant, maybe walk there and back, so you don’t just pile into a car and then collapse in front of the telly. Intermittent fasting also has lots of benefits, so why not do a fast AFTER your meal. You’ll feel super full and maybe stodgy for a while after your indulgence, so hopefully you won’t feel as hungry and it might be easier to skip a meal, but also, since you’ll likely not feel great after your fabulous feast, a period of fasting afterwards will actually alleviate those sensations and make you feel better much quicker – almost like a mini detox. Just be sure to drink plenty of water!
Time your indulgence
This is tricky if you have a planned dinner with friends, but if you’re just going about your day and really feel like having a naughty meal, then it’s a good idea to do so at a strategic time of day. It’s not a good idea to have a heavy meal right before you go to bed, so an indulgent lunch may be a better idea than dinner. Also, if you are exercising, it’s a good idea to have a carby meal around your work-out. And when it comes to those mouth-watering saturated fats – it’s advisable to eat them first thing in the morning, rather than late in the day. So go ahead and load up on that bacon!
So as long as you take a few clever steps, you can go ahead and have your cheat meal and don’t need to feel as bad about it afterwards. The most important thing is not to feel disheartened or disappointed with yourself if you break your healthy eating streak and as long as you don’t make a habit of it – that occasional pizza can work wonders for the soul!