As far as following a healthy diet, I believe many people think they have to eat grapes and hummus every day, along with endless amounts of chicken breasts. While including lots of complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins is important, you can also enjoy “cheat” foods and still live a long and healthy life. So what’s the secret? Know how to choose your cheat calories wisely.
To start, let’s first define what a cheat calorie is. I view cheat calories as any food or drink that doesn’t positively benefit the body. Examples would be sweets, fast food or alcohol. So am I suggesting that you allow yourself to include these types of foods in your diet? Yes, I am – but there is a catch. You need to learn how to maximize your cheat calories so your body doesn’t even notice them.
The key to choosing your cheat calories is to minimize the percentage of cheat calories in comparison to your overall caloric intake. For example, if you have two margaritas at about 800 calories total and you took in 2,000 calories for the day, your cheat calories would make up 40% of that. On the other hand, let’s say you had a mocha from Starbucks at 180 calories, then you’re now looking at that being 9% of the 2,000 caloric intake for the day. Make sense?
So with this knowledge, how do you put it into practice? Try to limit your cheat calories to 10% or less of your total calories. If you don’t count calories, then eat “healthy” 90% of the time and you’ll be right in the ball park.
Some may argue that you shouldn’t have any cheat calories in your diet to optimize overall health. Obviously this is ideal, but I don’t find it to be realistic with my clients. I believe that by allowing yourself room to enjoy your favorite treats in small quantities, you are much more likely to be disciplined with the rest of your diet. In addition, this style of eating is designed for a lifetime, not just some trendy fad that everyone is trying out. Learn how to eat your cheat calories in moderation and watch your health thrive!
*The information on this site is designed for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Thank you!
~by Kimberly Olson