“I can resist anything except temptation.” For most of us, that quote feels most applicable when we’re in the middle of changing our eating habits — also known as going on a healthy eating diet.
Let’s face it: cutting out foods like refined sugar, carbs and anything #coveredwithcheese from our diet can be a challenge, particularly when you’ve first started a new eating plan or when you seem to have plateaued in weight loss efforts. It’s one of the reasons that cheat days have become so popular.
What Is a Cheat Day?
A cheat day is a sneaky day that, while it may seem like any other, gives you license to eat whatever you want, without counting calories or sticking to your diet. Goodbye, plain chicken and broccoli. Hello, juicy hamburger. A cheat day can be any day of the week though most people will have theirs coincide with a weekend day.
The theory behind having a cheat day is that you’ll stick to your diet throughout the week and stave off cravings for those foods tempting you by reminding yourself that you have a cheat day coming up. And then, on said cheat day, you get to enjoy whatever food has been taunting and teasing you.
While the whole “cheat” bit makes it sound illicit, cheat days (or cheat meals) are actually something that bodybuilders and professional athletes often employ in their training programs. That’s because when you’re on a diet, such as the common low-carb diet, you’ve likely reduced the number of calories you’re eating. At the onset of a diet, you may even notice that the weight comes off quite easily.
But our bodies are smart. Over time, they wise up and realize that you’re eating fewer calories than what you’re burning. To offset this, your body adjusts its metabolism, slowing it down so that the body becomes more efficient. This is usually around the time when your weight loss stalls. By introducing a cheat day, the thinking goes, you’re introducing more calories for a limited amount of time, which is enough to trick the body into shifting your metabolism back into high gear. (More on this later.)
When it comes to cheat meals, you can still enjoy some of your favorite comfort meals without trashing your fitness or weight loss goals. Cutting the fats and carbs doesn’t mean that you have to cut the flavor. Simple substitutions and healthier ingredients are all you need to satisfy your palate and your cravings, too.
Here are some dishes that you and your family will love (whether they know it’s healthy or not):
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