Have you ever signed yourself up for a CHEAT DAY? Or do you call it a treat day? Maybe your version is a cheat night, the week while you’re on holiday, or the month after you’ve done a cleanse or been on a restricted diet? It happens. There are varying degrees of discipline to any exercise or way of eating, and sometimes it’s easy to be super focused, and then that novelty wears off, but you don’t want to lose the momentum that you’ve made, that progress where you’re sleeping better, pooping better, having more energy. The fear of messing things up is real and I often get asked what to do when their willpower waines from their healthy focus. If you’re on a Keto diet for instance, you might want to eat some carbs. Or if you’re following an overall diet that has no-to-low sugar or refined foods, but you just want some ice cream on a hot day. Where does that fall in the scope of being healthy; both physically and mentally? Not worrying too much, feeling the guilt and shame that often comes along with it. How can you just let yourself enjoy it and move on? Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, a question from a loyal listener about Cheat Days. What is the best way to cheat; from a health, and mental health perspective?
When people are on highly regimented diet and exercise plans, they often talk about a Cheat DAY. That could be a day of having pizza or what’s perceived as a sin food. Well, I had a question from a loyal listener, Paul and he asked what would be the best way to have a cheat day without blowing out all that discipline of your usual diet and exercise routine?
I also heard from another listener, Adrian, who I’m thinking is quite a healthy eater the majority of the time. His cheat day looks like turkey burgers and sweet potato fries, but loaded with cheese, bacon and a white bun. He also said that he makes homemade thin crust pizza using imported 00 flour from Italy. It’s so light and it literally digests in about an hour or so like what I mean is you don’t feel bloated or heavy after whatsoever. On his pizza he likes buffalo mozzarella basil arugula and some sliced chicken. I’d say that’s a healthy version of a pizza.
So back to Paul’s question and what is the best way to cheat? What foods are delicious but give you a nutritional factor to them?
First of all let me say that having a regularly scheduled cheat day each week can actually be good for weight loss by preventing binges, reducing cravings, providing a mental break from dieting, and boosting metabolism—if it’s done in a healthy way. Let’s say your usual is a double-stuffed-crust pizza. Triple-scoop sundaes. Beer-battered onion rings. If that’s your thing, then welcome to cheat meal paradise. The problem with treating yourself when you’ve been successfully eating well is that we can go too far with the splurge. I remember speaking with a prospective client in my 20 minute discovery call to see if we are a fit to work together, and she was scared to deviate from her usual Paleo diet. She was scared of the consequences. So she never did. But realized that she wasn’t happy about it.
Let’s talk about some meals and snacks that can be somewhere in the middle of not having that Mac and Cheese that you are craving, but keep it in the middle of the road health wise …
The burger – you want to hit the drive through. What can you order? Naked real cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. Still have the burger, but not the sauce, bacon, and plastic cheese.
I mentioned mac and cheese – what about trying chickpea or gluten free pasta, and ease the usual bloated feeling afterwards.
Nachos – they can be a million calories of saturated fat and yumminess. Rather than the ground beef, unless it’s grass fed and finished, go vegetarian with beans. Load up with colourful peppers, pecorino cheese, avocado, tomatoes and jalapeños. You’ve got good quality protein and healthy fats.
I’ve been known to make pizza vegetables so high that they all fall off. That recipe is in my book Sprout Right Family Food.
If your go-to is salty chips, fries, pretzels, roasted peanuts, microwave popcorn, what can you do if this is you?
A favourite of mine is to make up a trail mix with raisins and sprinkle some himalayan sea salt or sriracha salt on top. The salt sticks to the raisins and so you end up with a varied taste with fibre and a bit more iron than usual.
Homemade popcorn, made in the pan with coconut oil is also a go to for me. Ditch the microwave stuff generally please. Popcorn is a whole grain that is 100 percent unprocessed with no additional additives or hidden ingredients, if you think about it. It’s what you do with it. Sprinkle real butter, my kids add maple syrup for the salt-sweet thing.
Don’t groan at this but truthfully kale chips make a great substitute for potato chips. There are root chips too, like sweet potato and beet chips. A smidge of colour is a better option than white potatoes.
Ice cream is Chris’s go-to. How about homemade three ingredient ice cream. There’s a recipe in my book, it has blueberries, any fruit will do, maple syrup and real cream. That’s it. No guilt there at all.
Chocolate – can you go for dark chocolate? Or plain milk if possible. Without the oozing caramel, peanut butter or light and fluffy filling. Just have the chocolate squares or even a handful of chocolate chips.
Cookies – try my recipe for chocolate chip cookies that have 7 ingredients, one of which is the chocolate chips.
Brownies – I have a sinless Chocolate brownie recipe in my book that’s gluten free and you’d never know it. Recipes that include black beans, beets or sweet potatoes are all over the internet. It is possible. I’ve even seen avocado brownies. No deprivation there.
Your rum and coke, dark and stormy with ginger beer and rum, long island iced tea, mudslide, white russian, daiquiri, maitai, pina colada, margarita or a case of 24 beers. The more sugar, even that simple syrup in a frozen margarita is going to lead to you wanting more and more.
If a margarita is your thing, try a naked one. One oz
Any Basic Mixed Drink: Gin & Tonic, Vodka Soda…
White Wine Spritzer
Generally for every 1oz of alcohol, you need a glass of water to go along with it.
There are foods that taste the best but aren’t the best for you. We all know that. Those times when you break down and go for when you’re starving and can’t think of anything else. When you can’t make anything quick enough, and know that you’re going to regret later – well I hope this episode has helped you to find better alternatives, ones that don’t crush your self esteem and ruin your day or weekend.
Know someone who likes to have those cheat days? Pass this on. Comment on the show notes on liannephillipson.com, tag someone on social media on Sprout Right’s and Lianne Phillipson handles when we put this out every monday. Sign up for my weekly newsletter at liannephillipson.com and sproutright.com.
If there was ever a time that my send off to you was appropriate, it’s today. So cheat day or otherwise, please remember to EAT this one mouthful at a time.