The importance of cheats

Research shows that diets that are too strict have a smaller chance of success. You might just be able to hang on for the required 21, 24 or 30 days but as soon as you’re finished, you run to the ice cream shop or go on a pizza and beer bender. To prevent this from happening, we let you earn your cheats. This does a few things:

  • It gives you a way to satisfy your naughty cravings.
  • It uses those cravings to build healthy habits.
  • It allows you to stay on course even when you cheat.

Let’s be honest, everyone cheats when they’re on a diet. It might only be once or twice, but sometimes your cravings just get the better of you. The real danger of cheating is that it is a slippery slope. Every time you break the rules makes it just a little easier to break them again next time. By making cheats an integral part of the diet, you can occasionally indulge your cravings without slipping.

If it is bad for your diet, it had better be really good!

An earned cheat allows you one meal or treat without restrictions. That intentionally leaves you a bit of room for personal judgment. While we don’t recommend going out for a 5 course meal every time you earn a cheat, it is fine if that is what you really want (although we would advise you spend a second cheat if you want to order the matching wines). But if what makes you happy is some gelato with the kids, that is just as good. The important thing is that you spend your cheat on something you have been looking forward to. Don’t spend it on a candy bar impulse buy, because that will only lead to regret. You don’t really want that candy bar, and if you just ignore it you will have forgotten it before you leave the store.

Some good ways to spend a cheat are:

  • Having a few beers with friends
  • Going out for a fancy dinner with your partner
  • Stopping for apple pie on your Sunday walk
  • Going out for ice cream

Really, anything you truly enjoy can be a good cheat. And afterwards you can feel proud for having earned it instead of guilty for slipping.

The focus of your cheats should be indulgence and taste, not quantity. If you constantly crave big mountains of everything, you should increase the portion sizes of your healthy meals.

Managing your cheats

You can save up to three cheats at any time. This maximum gives you an incentive to spend your cheats. Cheats should be used, not saved up until you can go on an all week bender. We advise you to keep a baseline of one available cheat whenever you can. Occasionally, things may pop up that require you to cheat, and it is a good feeling to know you have it covered. After you spend your last cheat, plan to replenish it as soon as possible. If you are constantly running on empty, you can never enjoy an unplanned cheat.

Even with careful planning, you may sometimes slip up. You just can’t find the time to earn a cheat but you do want to go out with friends. These things happen. If they do, don’t fall into these common mental pitfalls:

  • Don’t consider the day a loss. Even when you slip up, make sure your next meal is as healthy as ever. Turning your small slip-ups into “the day is lost now anyway” fast food rampages just makes things worse.
  • Don’t punish yourself by skipping your next meal. It’s OK to skip the occasional meal, but if your system is to eat the unhealthy snacks and skip your healthy meals as punishment you’re not doing it right. If you feel the need to punish yourself, sentence yourself to making an extra fancy salad for your next meal.
  • Seperate your cheats from your activities. Don’t feel that just because you worked hard and earned a cheat you now have to spend it. You can easily reward yourself with a delicious healthy meal and keep your cheat for when you really need it. This will prevent you from always running low on cheats.
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