Cheat Sheet: Ditch that Diet, but Do it Right

Cheating is best kept away from relationships and maybe even exams, but it can do good things for your diet. Many people benefit from cheat meals as they give them a goal to look forward to, keeping them motivated.

But as all backbenchers in the house must know, cheating is nothing short of an art. Cheat days or meals are a careful man’s game. Apart from preparing your favourite foods, you must also prepare your body to exercise ample patience and control.

A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the mind

Even though they can be great motivators, cheat days can also encourage unhealthy/emotional eating habits. Unhealthy/ processed foods can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, thereby leaving you feeling lethargic and unenergetic. Oh, you thought you could exercise the junk off the next day? Well, maybe not.

Like most good things, cheating comes at a cost. It can alter or undo the progress you have made. Cheating should be a calculated risk, more than an all-you-want buffet. Once you take the plunge to be healthy, you don’t want to fall back.  Set boundaries, and always plan the extent of your cheat meal or day. Now, now, don’t get discouraged! A game is only fun with some rules, eh?

Small changes help create big ones

It is for you to figure out how many cheat days you can handle, and how they should be spaced out. While you do that, here are a few changes you can make in your daily food routine, to fine-tune the larger picture:

  • A treat-a-day keeps the cravings away
    Missing sugar? Include a small, guilt-free dessert in your diet. Reward yourself with it after a successful day of healthy eating and exercise. Akiva’s Jaggery Cubes are perfectly proportioned to satiate your craving, without loading you up on unwanted calories.

  • Feel fuller, without the guilt
    Stock up on healthy options such as nuts, lentils, colourful fruits and veggies, peanut butter, etc. Incorporate them in your diet to feel (and stay) full. Down with untimely junk-food cravings!
  • Research & read
    You’ve never really looked at a food label for anything other than the price, have you? Develop a habit of reading labels cover-to-cover to better understand, and regulate what’s going inside your body.
  • Health, not hate
    Contrary to what you may believe, sticking to strict diets shouldn’t feel like you’ve signed up for the army. Work towards a sustainable, healthy life. Include enjoyable but healthy options in your everyday meals.

Doing D-Day right

Aha, the awaited day is here! Days of hard work have culminated into this momentous occasion. You’re ready with your forks, spoons and food-ordering apps. But wait, before you lose yourself to uninterrupted indulgence, consider these:

  • Recreate, don’t  reorder
    Can’t get over that scrumptious drool-worthy, Instagram-worthy dessert you’ve been pining for? Put your creativity cap on and replicate it, using healthier alternatives! Akiva’s Vanilla Ghee is the perfect substitute for fatty oils when baking some good stuff.
  • Fitness, with fun
    Ditch the gym, but not your ultimate goal. Instead of a planned hour of exercise, shake things up. Maybe drop into your loved ones’ DMs, and challenge them to a game of your favourite sport?

  • No place for the processed
    Stick to a mostly natural diet. Processed foods are deceptively appealing but an absolute no-no. We understand you are human and you can’t just ignore them completely. Start with small cut-downs and aim towards consuming just one processed food/meal every ten days.

Fresh outlook, refreshed body

Maybe it’s time we came up with a different term for cheat days. Essentially, ‘cheating’ is associated with dishonest behaviour and comes with guilt. When you are eating something you enjoy, it is not dishonesty. In fact, the act is pure, and one that expresses self-care.  Reframe your outlook towards cheating as well as healthy eating. Healthy food is not your enemy and cheating, certainly, is not your saviour.

Avoid creating a false dichotomy between guilt-inducing, delicious foods and guilt-free healthy foods. Consider following the 80-20 approach, wherein 80% of your diet should be nutritious, and the other 20% may not be as healthy, but something you love. The entire point of pursuing a healthy lifestyle is that it should make you feel good. And that can only come with balance.

You have made the decision to live healthier, and your efforts will pay off. Don’t doubt your investment based on indulging a little now and then. Once your approach is more positive, your body will respond accordingly:

  • Enhanced immunity to stay protected
  • Increased stamina to be energetic during all activities
  • Better focus, so you can achieve more
  • Improved mood to stay calm through the storms

Strike a balance between strict obedience and breaking the rules. We are sure you will get there!