It’s happened to all of us at one point or another – we’re going along great on our healthy weight loss plan, when all of a sudden we careen out of control and eat something we really shouldn’t have. While this is a common experience that all dieters share, it does not have to mean disaster if you keep your senses and take action to minimize the damage.
The first thing to do is forgive yourself. After all, you’re only human! Remind yourself that you are trying to change very deeply ingrained old habits, and that takes time and persistence. It’s virtually inevitable that you will slip now and then.
The next step is to honestly assess how bad the cheat was.
Did you have one serving of chocolate cake, or did you down an entire pizza, a 6-pack of beer and a roll of raw cookie dough? Was it a one-time cheat, or did you go on a bender and eat non-stop for 3 or 4 days?
If you are honest with yourself, most of the time you’ll realize that the cheat wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Even if it was a huge, seam-bursting event, you can still take steps to get quickly back on track.
First, what NOT to do:
Definitely DON’T assume that you’ve screwed up your diet and you will be a fat failure forevermore. Don’t beat yourself up and call yourself names. Don’t tell yourself that you’re weak, have no willpower and can’t do anything right. None of these things are true – you just made a mistake, that’s all.
Definitely DON’T starve yourself as punishment or in an effort to try forcing your body to lose the weight you gained from a cheat! Eating too little will only slow down your metabolism and make matters worse.
Most importantly, don’t quit your diet! Don’t see your cheat as a “failure” – see it as an opportunity to do better from this moment on.
What to do next:
Then, depending on the magnitude of the cheat, you may want to take a few steps for the next few days that can help you bring your body back into fat-burning mode.
– Increase water intake
If your cheat included foods that are high in sugar, fat and sodium, drinking more water can help your body flush out toxins and any excess water that it may be retaining due to the content of the food you ate. Drink enough water so that you are visiting the potty regularly and your urine is virtually clear in color.
– High-fiber vegetables
Include plenty of high-fiber, nutrient-rich vegetables in your diet for a few days, especially vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, avacado, and brussels sprouts. This will help keep you feeling full while also stimulating your digestive system to keep things moving along smoothly, and boosting your metabolism because these foods require your body to expend a fair amount of energy to digest them.
– Patiently wait out cravings
Finally, if you cheated with a food that has now triggered cravings for more of the same food, you’ll have to patiently wait it out until the cravings pass. Remember that some foods (like sugar) create a chemical chain-reaction in your body that makes you want more and more of them. When a craving comes over you, simply take a few deep breaths, affirm that it will pass, and wait until it does.
Cheating on your diet is not the end of the world – it’s not even the end of your diet, if you simply keep your common sense and do what you can to get back on track as quickly as possible.