Excuse Buster: Weight loss without the pain

PHUKET: Ah, cheat meals!

You know what I am talking about? Pizza, ice-cream, popcorn, chocolate – not good for the body in the short term, but they can help your psychology and motivate you to stay on track in the long term. We all need a break from routine and harsh discipline. I often say what you resist persists, but instead of ‘giving in’ to an urge, a more powerful choice is deciding guilt-free to indulge occasionally.

Like many things when it comes to diets, whether you would like to maximize fat loss or increase muscle growth, there are a lot of different opinions about these cheat meals.

Some experts say that even small changes from your diet plan will prevent you from reaching your goals, so they insist on strict obedience to their programs.

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Others belittle the entire concept of cheating, and claim that as long as you stick to eating the right kind of foods, you don’t have to pay much attention to your overall intake.

In my opinion, both of these directions are wrong.

You can enjoy regular cheat meals, but you need to find the best way to do so.

Success with most things, including diet, comes from consistency and not from seeking perfection. The ideal diet is the diet that gets you results – like losing fat, building muscle, moving you towards more optimal health – and also suits your personality and lifestyle.

Food serves many purposes today, including:

1) Nourishment

2) Experiencing joy in its taste

3) Enhancing social occasions

Nourishment should ideally make up the large part; life is meant to be enjoyed and not lived alone in a cave. Sharing a great meal with a glass of wine and then a dessert with friends and family is one of life’s pleasures.

However, as I have seen on countless occasions, the cheat meal can quickly turn from being an empowering choice to a guilt-filled bad food fest when we go too far. So here are my rules for those indulgences:

1) Do not use cheat meals to help deal with negative emotions (like frustration, anger, pain), as emotional eating can lead to a dangerous addiction.

2) Always indulge in good company – never do it alone.

3) Eat until satisfied, and then stop – you stay in control.

4) Enjoy it slowly and savor every bite.

5) Avoid foods to which you are intolerant – gluten, for example.

6) Try to substitute better options unless it doesn’t feel like a cheat anymore – e.g. go dark chocolate (still has sugar) versus white, or sweeten your whipped cream with Stevia instead of white sugar.

7) Don’t cheat in more than 20 per cent of your meals, but many wanting weight loss should not go beyond 10 per cent.

8) Keep your house clean – don’t leave tempting sweets and foods in your cupboards.

Craig Burton is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) with a Bachelor of Science Degree (Sports Science) and a National Academy of Sports Medicine (PES) certification.

— Craig Burton

Thai Life

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