Whatever diet regime you are on, it is okay to indulge in healthy cheats. We spoke to accomplished dietician, Shiny Surendran from Chennai, who gives us simple tips to manage our cheat days and lets us in on some secrets to cheat healthy.
CHEATING MAY HELP
Cheat days can actually boost your motivation to stick to your weight loss goal. Forsaking your beloved cravings might end up in an overeating spree. No sweets, no pizza and no sweet cravings imply no fun! This will lead to demotivation and you will soon get bored of your diet; next thing you know, you will binge eat and pile on those unwarranted calories. Do not compromise on your food cravings. Remember, portion control is key. As long as you eat sensibly and are on a healthy diet, you can make space for your carb cravings and sweet yearnings.
TACKLE THE LOVE AFFAIR
Anything in moderation is definitely welcome. Yes you should fulfill your hunger pangs but too much of it will spoil the relationship food has with your body. Learn to balance the cravings, healthy eating and workouts. If the diet is beyond limits, sooner or later you will let go off it. Don’t go overboard thinking about the guilt of having that piece of cake. Love for food is one relationship all of us want to work on.
MAKE THOSE CHANGES
If you do end up wanting to have that chocolate muffin or a slice of pizza, have it, relish every bite and then take a walk around the office with your colleagues. You’ll burn it off and it will also help you manage your daily intake of calories. Instead of indulging thrice a week on those wants, get the indulgence down to once a week when on diet.As and when you get cravings, write them down and make a list. On Sunday, pick one dish that you really crave and eat it during the day. Avoid giving into your cravings at dinner.
EAT SMALL MEALS
It’s your cheat day and you would love to savourthe authentic, mouth-watering biryani. Have it, but divide it in smaller portions. Do not eat it all at once. That will click a reset button on your entire week’s hard work. Consume small portions through the day . Dr Shiny suggests, “I would always advise clients to eat their favourite meal on Sunday for breakfast or lunch .This calorie spiking actually helps in normal thyroid function and also in conversion of T4 to T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone). This way the body doesn’t think that one is on extended periods of calorie restriction(aka famine).”
You love your dal tadka and you love it when it has tablespoons of ghee. Ghee is not really unhealthy as you think it is. You can still go ahead and cut down on the amount of ghee used but you can use ghee. Out of 5 tsp oil allowance per day, you can use 1-1.5 tsp ghee per day. Use grass fed cow’s milk and the ghee from it has higher amounts of CLA, a healthy fat which helps in fat reduction and supports increase in lean muscle.Replace the cooking oil with olive oil. EVOO (extra virgin olive) can be used for salads and to make dips.
BUDGET YOUR CALORIES
An adult needs at least 2000-2500 kcal per day to stay healthy and energetic. When it’s your cheat day, don’t overshoot on that budget. Make sure what you have doesn’t go beyond the above stated number of calories. Cheat within the limitations of your calorie intake required per day during diet.It’s about the right food combinations. Eating 3 glycemically balanced meals is the key. Include protein, fibre and little complex carbs if required. Plan meals around dal + veg + fish/ chicken / eggs / paneer/ tofu . Keep a check on portion sizes and stop when you feel 80% full. Just taking 20mins to eat a meal and chewing helps in curbing overeating.
WORK THOSE CARBS
You will need to at least take a walk or a stroll on your cheat day. Make sure you don’t hit the sack post your heavy slice of pizza. If you aren’t hitting the gym that day, take a stroll post supper. Remember, whatever is consumed has to be burnt on the very day.
NO ALCOHOL? NOT TRUE
If you are someone who loves their peg of whiskey or vodka, go for it. Though keep in mind that alcohol directly interferes with fat breakdown.So if you must drink, choose whisky or vodka and keep to small drinks each time. Eat a sandwich, 2 idlis or a cube cheese before you step out of home. Alcohol reduces blood sugar levels, which means your eyes are larger than your stomach and you eat a lot more after drinking a few drinks. Beer has gluten (it’s made from fermented barley) so all those who are gluten sensitive – steer clear of beer. Replace those side dishes or starters with salad or tangy masala sprouts. Let go off the mixes and have it with diet coke or better coke zero since it’s available in India now. If you do not want to compromise on those tasty crunchy peanuts or coke, go dance the night away and burn those calories while you have fun.