"Stop!" screams your conscience as you swipe a handful of mini-candy bars from your co-worker's communal candy dish. And yet...if no one sees you take them, the calories don't count—right? Whether you call it "cheating on your diet," "sneaking" food, or "closet eating," deviating from your weight loss plan often results from practicing less-than-healthy habits. After all, when your approach is too restrictive, you may end up feeling deprived and prone to slip-ups.
So how do you avoid "cheating" on your diet? Remember that healthy eating isn't just about avoiding demonized foods—it's about balance and sustainability. Devising some strategies to help you fit foods you love into your journey will help you stay on track. Here are some suggestions to try:
- Plan for sweets and treats. Making sure you get to enjoy your favorite desserts or snacks every once in a while will help you from feeling deprived. Pick a night each week when you can indulge in something decadent like a piece of chocolate cake. Then give yourself permission to truly enjoy it! Taking time to savor a treat is always more satisfying than gobbling it down with feelings of guilt or shame.
- Clean out your pantry. If most of the foods in your house are part of your healthy eating plan, then you're already halfway there. If you must have triggering foods around for a special occasion, store them out of sight or buy them at the last minute. On the big day, enjoy your favorite foods and send any leftovers home with your guests.
- Set yourself up for social success. Beware of those who continually try to coerce you into "just a cappuccino" which you know really means a cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake with frosting an inch thick. That doesn't mean you can't hang out with them! Just try suggesting a different kind of get-together such as a walk in the park or an afternoon at the movies.
- Share your goals. Changing your eating habits? Let your friends and family know—and give them permission to remind you of your dedication to better health if they catch you transgressing.
- Check up on yourself. Write down every meal, snack, bite, lick, and taste that graces your palate every day. If you often eat when you're upset or stressed, try to record this too. This way, you can recognize patterns—like reaching for a candy bar after arguing with your partner—and find alternative ways of coping with your moods. Next time try phoning a friend or going for a stress-relieving walk.
- Keep a sense of perspective. Everyone slips up from time to time. Whether spend one too many SmartPoints on dessert or find that you've gone way over your SmartPoint Budget, remember: It's not the end of the world! The worst thing you can do is give in and say "Well, I blew it. Let's forget it. I'm never going to succeed." Remember you can get back on track beginning with your next bite.