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Learn How to Cheat !

One thing most of us share in our diets is the urge to let loose every now and then. Many times it is too hard to deny the call of the craving. How you approach to these cravings determines if they are going to hurt you in the long run or not.
So, what are the top DO’s and DON’Ts for staying in control of cravings?

DON’T DO THIS!

1. DON’T GET CONSUMED BY GUILT!
Instead of eating large portions of your favorite foods, take the time to enjoy a small version every day.
Dial down that critical voice in your head that judges you for overeating. Your GPS doesn’t judge you when you take a wrong turn, as an alternative, it reminds you to take the next U-turn.
People will be unhappy both ways; if they overeat unhealthy foods, they will feel emotionally and physically bad afterwards and if they deprive themselves completely of all foods they consider ‘bad,’ like ice cream, french fries or chocolate, they will lack enjoyment in their diet or eventually overindulge. It’s your total diet and total lifestyle that matters. So, let go of the guilt and return to healthier choices at your next eating occasion. One indulgence won’t make or break a mostly healthy diet.

2. DON’T TURN A CHEAT MEAL INTO A CHEAT DAY OR WEEK OR EVEN MONTH!
It’s perfectly fine to occasionally indulge. Just do it smartly. Choose one thing you really want, whether it’s ice cream or a chocolate, but don’t give yourself excuses to turn the one indulgence into a whole day or week of overindulging! Another way to look at this: Have the croissant for brunch, but then turn yourself toward a fresh seasonal salad at your next meal. After all, when you drop your phone and crack the screen, you don’t further squash it with your feet. Apply that thinking to your diet.

3. DON’T GO INTO AN INDULGENT MEAL WHEN STARVING!
It is very important to plan smartly if you know you’re heading to happy hour or Sunday brunch with friends. You want to spend time with friends, not devour the first thing you see. If I’m brunching at 11 AM but I’ve been up since 8 AM, I might munch on a fruit before heading out. That way, I can make better choices from the menu, opting for, say, avocado toast with a boiled egg instead of a mountain of pancakes with whipped cream.

DO THIS INSTEAD!

1. DO INDULGE YOUR CRAVINGS!
The food you are craving is the best food to conquer a craving! When you make your body deny what it really wants, it will often lead to either obsessing about the food, or continuing to eat and seeking out foods that won’t ever satisfy you. Either one can lead to over-eating.
Some treats are totally worth it, while others are just not. Make sure it’s worth it if you’re going for it!

2. DO IDENTIFY WHAT YOU’RE CRAVING AND MAKE IT HEALTHIER!
Have a longing for something chocolaty? Or maybe you’re craving something cheesy or creamy? Take note of what it is you’re really after and then try something that provides some of the same qualities.

3. DO CREATE A BUFFER WHEN YOU INDULGE!
There must be a way of both having a plan and getting back on track. If you know you are heading to a restaurant or party, you may eat lighter meals both before and afterwards. If lunch is particularly heavy, you may not need a snack that day. And you’ll stay tuned to your body when it’s hungry and when it’s full, so that you’ll naturally manage portion sizes of your not-so-healthy meal. We are not talking about being restrictive here. It’s more about being mindful of your choices. That means that if you have more french fries than normal, you may balance that out by eating a satisfying salad, layered with whole grains and quality proteins.

4. DO HAVE A SMALL TREAT EVERY DAY!
Remove any distractions (TV, driving, talking and reading) while you eat, chew slowly and pay attention to your senses (smell, touch, taste) in order to fully enjoy the treat. When you mindfully eat, you may be surprised to find out that you only need a few bites to be fully satisfied.

5. DO FIND SOME BETTER SWAPS!
Rather than denying yourself, have small treats that won’t derail your healthy eating goals. Eat what you crave, just make it with whole foods instead of CRAP (Chemicals, Refined sugar and flour, Artificial stuff, Preservatives). Tacos, Pizza, Sweets…All our favorites have a super food version!

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

 

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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian