Can Cheating on Diet Plans Help You Lose Weight?

The main reason most weight loss diets fail is the entire concept of "cheating" on the diet. The ultimate goal of any reducing diet is not only to take weight off but also to keep it off. The only way to keep the weight off is to make dietary changes that can be realistically followed for life. Yes, healthy eating is incredibly important; there is no reason, though, that an occasional foray into the forbidden zone (unless there is a medical condition that requires abstinence from certain foods or food groups) cannot be allowed.

It almost seems that as soon as the word "diet" comes into play, people begin to crave and fixate on the foods that the diet does not allow. When a person who loves chocolate, for example, goes on a diet that dictates they can never again have chocolate if they want to keep any weight loss off, that weight loss plan is doomed to fail in epic proportions. The chocoholic may very well decide they cannot stick to the diet and give it up or may suffer horribly guilty feelings each time they "cheat." This lose-lose situation is the best reason to stop thinking that occasional treats are considered cheating on a diet plans and instead believe that those treats can be incorporated into a life-long healthy eating program.

A combination of portion control, moderation, and less guilty snacks can rescue a person from the mindset that tells them they are cheating on a diet plan and will not negate a proud week of healthy eating.

Substitutes for Weight Loss

There are many ways in which a person can satisfy cravings for junk food using substitutions. Chips and dip offer a satisfying crunch factor but the dips are generally high in calories, fat and other ingredients that should not be eaten on a regular basis. The same crunch, when raw vegetables just don't work, can be found in tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole. It is true that tortilla chips contain only marginally less fat and calories than potato chips, but replacing the dip is where the largest benefit takes place. Tomato-based salsas have less guilt factor than chip dips and while guacamole does contain fat, the avocado base provides the healthier fat bodies need to support cardiovascular health.

An open family-size bag of potato chips can be an invitation to disaster – a person means to have a small handful and, suddenly, the bag is empty! When it is the potato chip itself, rather than the crunch, that is desired, homemade baked chips really do work and are simple to make.

  • Homemade potato chips: For a single serving of chips – peel and slice a potato to 1/8 inch thickness or thinner. Toss in a bowl with a little extra virgin olive oil (EVOO is one of the better oils for a body) and a small amount of salt and/or pepper. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes for slices that are 1/8 inch. If the slices are thinner (writers note: I make mine paper thin) they should be checked after the first 5 minutes and every 2 minutes after that. Once the chips are a lovely brown they are fully crunchy and ready to eat. They can also be lightly salted once removed from the oven and are still warm.

Chocolate is a favorite with such a large portion of the population. If chocolate is the treat of choice, opt for dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate, when plain or containing only nuts, can actually be good for your heart, body and mind. Eating this treat in small doses (100g) can reduce blood pressure, possibly aid in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol), and tosses in great antioxidant value. Chocolate certainly need not fall into the category of foods to avoid during weight loss and maintenance plans, and this hasn't even covered the emotional benefits of eating dark chocolate.

A sweet tooth, when dieting, seems to develop a mind of its own and become a monster. Alternate sweets might help satisfy the monster prior to giving in to its demands for particular candies. Dehydrated fruit often provides the same combination of sweet and chewy that directs some people toward candy such as gummi bears and jelly beans, and is much healthier than sugary candy. Sweet and salty, chewy and crunchy can also be combined at home with a mere 5 minutes worth of effort: buying nuts, banana chips, raisins, dried cranberries and other tasty tidbits that are enjoyed and combining a measured serving size of each into plastic baggies gives you many bags of trail mix ready to grab and go. These get rid of the guilty feeling that comes from cheating on diet plans.

If those do not curb the sweet tooth, remember that it will not be the end of the world to occasionally indulge the craving. If denying a treat makes it more attractive, knowing that the treat is allowed makes it easier to be moderate as it is known that it can be enjoyed again at a later date. The key is to have a small amount: do not eat the whole bag of gummi bears, have 10 of the delicious creatures.

Portion Control for Weight Loss

As with the above mentioned trail mix, there are many ways to exercise portion control and moderation. If that chocolate bar absolutely has to be bought there is no hard and fast rule that dictates it must be eaten entirely in one sitting; break the bar, rather, into four sections, enjoy one section now and keep the others for another time. Better yet is taking advantage of the miniature packages many manufacturers offer on chocolate or candy products.

Some foods, such as take-out pizza, only come in 3 sizes: large, larger, and largest. A person who finds it difficult to indulge in only one or two slices will have more success if they make the pizza at home. They can still use their favorite toppings but rather than large pizza crusts use pita bread rounds. Pita bread can be used as is for a thick cut pizza or split for a thin crust. The smaller size of the pita bread is actually ideal for the creation of a personal size pizza.

When a person is dining out, remember that there are doggie bags available at the end of the meal. Saving half a meal for a second round of dining pleasure not only cuts the calories consumed in one sitting, it also cuts the price of the meal in half. This can be extended to fast-food and snacks. Huge burgers, donuts, and sandwiches can also be cut in half to be enjoyed at another meal.

It Is All About Balance

Losing weight and keeping it off for life really comes down to healthy balance. Eat nutritious meals and snacks at every chance. If a quick walk or other form of exercise or the slightly healthier substitutes don't work when the Forbidden Snack Fairy calls, then allow a small helping of the craved treat. Remember that this is not cheating on diet plans – this is incorporating small treats into diets that place the main focus on healthy eating for life.

Disclaimer: Anyone with dietary restrictions due to a medical condition should seek the advice of a medical professional before making changes to their diet.