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A Better Way To Satisfy Cravings (it’s probably not what you think!)

When it comes to food, portion control is my biggest issue. Unfortunately, my husband is the same so it’s not a very helpful dynamic for accountability!


It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and before you know it, the spiral begins.


Here are a few tricks we’ve learned along the way to help us with our goals.

  1. Don’t keep the temptation in the house! One of the rare times we want to ADD barriers to our lives.

  2. Be choosy when buying food! How about a scoop of ice cream from a shop instead of a pint? Get a slice or two of pizza instead of a whole pie. Craving a burger & fries? Keep it to one order of fries and split them.

  3. Drink more water! Staying hydrated is critical

  4. When all else fails – research has shown that drinking water with lemon before, during, or after eating something sweet can help blunt the glucose (blood sugar) spike and change your taste buds so you will not continue eating the sweet treat and move on.

 

The Psychology Of Dieting And The Word That Fills Us With Dread

The “d” word.


Are Your Cheat Days Stopping You From Reaching Your Weight Loss Goals?

In the world of yo-yo diets, keto craze, low carb mania – and a million other approaches to weight loss, one thing seems constant: cheat days.


We hear about indulgences from friends and celebrities alike who promise that one day of going off the rails really isn’t that bad. There’s a lot to this mindset and what it means for our relationship with food, nutrition, and long term goals.


The purpose of this post is to break down the fundamental x’s and o’s of nutrition – not to pass judgment or induce guilt about your approach.  


Let’s dive into the three reasons cheat days are ruining your progress.


  1. It doesn’t make mathematical sense

To lose weight you need to be in a caloric deficit, period. This means that we need to consume less calories than our body expends.


Fact: 1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories. This means that for most people, a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day is sufficient for weight loss and unlikely to significantly affect your hunger or energy levels.


If your daily caloric intake goal for weight maintenance is 2,000 calories, you’ll want to hover around 1,500 calories per day to lose weight.


This will keep you in a deficit of 3,500 calories per week (500 daily deficit x 7 days per week) and translate into a safe, sustainable weight loss of 1 pound per week.


I know what you’re thinking – 1 pound per week!? It will take FOREVER to lose the weight! Remember that we’re not considering exercise, walking, household chores, or other calorie burning activities. This example is purely to breakdown the math behind weight loss.


With this in mind, let’s explore cheat day math:

Let’s say you have one cheat day per week. On this cheat day you consume 5,000 calories (believe me, this is quite easy – one glass of wine is about 150 calories, a margarita or other cocktail is between 250-350 calories, a cheeseburger from In N Out is about 480 calories – you get the point).


If your caloric target is 1,500 calories per day and you consume 5,000 calories per day, you just exceeded your daily intake by 3,500 calories.

Remember: 3,500 calories = 1 pound.


This means, one cheat day cancels out 6 days of “dieting” or eating in a caloric deficit.

 

2. Needing a cheat day means you don’t enjoy your diet

If you feel the need to have regular cheat days, let’s say one day per week, it really means your diet isn’t enjoyable to you. If you liked your diet, you wouldn’t need an entire day away from it.


Not enjoying your diet is a huge problem: it affects your mindset, relationship with food, relationship with the scale, and the way you approach nutrition.


Instead of dreading meals most of the time and going crazy on a cheat day, consider including some indulgences throughout the week that satisfy what you’re looking for on those cheat day binges:

  • Dark chocolate

  • Fruit

  • Low sugar ice cream

  • Pre-portioned amount: satisfying the craving with a single slice of <<cake, pie, pizza>> instead of a full meal of it


There is a deeper psychology to the word “diet” which deserves an entire post in itself.


Bottom line: enjoying foods you like and having balance in your diet is crucial to reaching your goals and more importantly, the sustainability of your weight loss program.

 

3.      Cheat days aren’t sustainable

More often than not, our cheat days leave us feeling worse – mentally and physically.

Once the dopamine rush wears off, we feel guilty and beat ourselves up. We also risk opening pandoras box and not actually satisfying our craving or urge – but making it worse. The thing a dopamine rush craves the most is the next dopamine rush.


On top of it, we might be bloated, experience poor sleep, skip a workout, or any number of physical ramifications from our cheat day.


We may try to compensate by being “extra good” the next day or two. And so begins the cycle of using food as a punishment and reward instead of fuel for our mind and body.

 The fluctuations in mood, performance, energy, and routine will become difficult to manage. One day you’re binging, one day you’re hungry.


Eventually it’s simply not a sustainable (or enjoyable) approach to reaching our goals. The journey should be fun! A challenge we set up for ourselves, the pride we feel when we hit milestones and targets, the satisfaction of doing things that were unattainable before. This is all taken away once the yo-yo cycle starts.

 

So what’s the solution?

This is one of those things that’s easier said that done, but it is simple once you remove the emotional components of food, diet, and weight loss.

  1. Balance: 80% high protein + non-processed whole foods; 20% fun foods of your choice

  2. Set yourself up for success! Embrace cooking & food prep: being unprepared often leaves us scrambling for calories and turning to options that are not in line with what we need.

  3. If you eat too much one day, don’t overcompensate by being “extra good” the next day or two: stuff happens, it’s ok. Move on. Nothing is worth the guilt and punishment we put on ourselves.

  4. Find a diet/nutritional balance that suits your lifestyle: the most sustainable diet is the one you enjoy. I can’t stress this enough, nutrition is not one size fits all! It’s ok for your husband to be keto, sister to be low carb, you to be vegan.

 

How has your experience with nutrition and dieting been? Have you found what works for you?

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