When is it okay to have a cheat day, when is it okay to tread off the path of nutritional excellence? There are many diets that include cheat days or a points system so you can earn extra points and use them on items of your choosing. This works for a lot of people, but the real trick to eating healthy is making the smart choice the norm and the not-so-smart choice the exception. In exercise, diet, and and almost everything else, consistency is the key. Make healthy choices consistently and you don’t have to worry about desert after dinner one day or choosing the cream sauce the next.
Diet is the hardest part of a health regime. People struggle with what to eat and when to eat - or at least they say they do. Bottom line is that the vast majority of people know what to eat; they just choose to eat unhealthy items. We all know that soda pop is unhealthy, but a lot of us choose to drink it anyway. Most of us know that eating great amounts of greasy, fried food is unhealthy, but some of us choose to eat it anyway.
People who are struggling with weight loss will often ask what type of diet plan they should adopt. Any good training coach will say the same thing: “Eat healthy and balanced meals and load up on fruits and vegetables” or at least something to that effect. Unfortunately, that is not what people want to hear. They want an easy out. They want a guide to the perfect diet, but that is simply not realistic. Dictating what somebody eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is impossible unless you are also giving him or her a personal chef.
Weight loss is an equation. Calories in – calories out. If you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. If you are not, you will gain or maintain weight. You could, in theory, eat one ice cream cone a day and lose weight. You would be horribly unhealthy, but you would likely lose weight. This, of course, is the ultra-simple version of how to do this. It becomes much more complex when you throw in emotions, hormones, stressful situations, etc., but the cold hard truth remains the same. If you are exercising and eating properly, you will be healthy and lose weight. For some people, this is much more difficult if their fitness goals revolve solely around weight loss. Also, some people have to be very strict with their diet while some can eat more and gain less, but, then again, who ever said life was fair?
You have a window of calories per day. In this window,, you need to get all of your vitamins, minerals and nutrients. For argument sake, let's call this a window of 2000 calories. If you choose to have one of the McDonald's breakfasts, you may have just used 5-600 calories of your allowable 2000, but you've given your body very little in the way of what it needs to survive (vitamins, minerals and nutrients). You now have to get all of your needs filled in the remaining 1400 calories. If you get to the end of your day and you have eaten your 2000 calories but have not met your nutritional needs, you will start to crave. Then you get into the weight gain window. This then perpetuates into the following day. The body's craving and needs to be satiated and what do we often do? We fill it with quick burning carbohydrates, fats, and sugars when we should be saturating it with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This cycle is not easy to break. It takes consistency and hard work, but, once you have the cycle broken, you will crave junk food less and you will lose weight and become healthier. It is not a quick fix, it is not easy, but it works and it works for the long term.
In today’s world, we are finding obese people who are also suffering from malnutrition. It seams counter-intuitive, but the cause of this is the weight gain window. We are filling ourselves with empty calories. Foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition.
Don’t live in the weight gain window. Take control of your diet one day at a time. Get consistent and you won’t have to worry about cheat days or points. Your exception will be the junk food while your norm will be the healthy choices.