What are the do's and don'ts of cheat meals?

Though nutrition can be highly personalised, one thing most of us share is the urge to let loose every now and then. Whether that’s a couple of slices of pizza on a Friday night or an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, sometimes the call of the craving is just too hard to deny. Whether giving into these cravings helps or hurts you in the long run is largely a matter of how you approach it. So, here are the top do’s and don’ts for staying in control of cravings.

Don’t get consumed by guilt

Let go of the guilt and return to healthier choices at your next eating occasion. One indulgence won’t make or break a mostly healthy menu.

Don’t turn a cheat meal into a cheat day, week, or month

While we’re not a fan of the word ‘cheat,’ we think it’s perfectly fine to occasionally indulge. Just do it smartly. Choose one thing you really want, whether it’s ice cream or a pina colada, but don’t give yourself excuses to turn the one indulgence into a whole day or week of overindulging.

Don't go into an indulgent meal all-out starving

If you know you’re heading to happy hour or Sunday brunch with friends, it’s helpful to plan smartly. You want to spend time with friends, not wolf down the first thing you see – and everything else in eyesight. Munch on a banana or a bowl of berries before heading out.

Do indulge your cravings

The best food to conquer a craving is the food you are craving.

Do pinpoint what you're craving and make it healthier

Have a hankering for something chocolatey? Or maybe you’re craving something cheesy or creamy? Take note of what it is you’re really after and then try a subbing something that provides some of the same qualities.

Do have a small treat every day (really!)

To avoid eating monstrous portions of your favourite foods, try a small version and take the time to enjoy it. That means removing any distractions (TV, driving, talking and reading) while you eat, chewing slowly and paying attention to your senses (smell, touch, taste) in order to fully enjoy the treat. When you mindfully eat, you may be surprised to find you only need a few bites to be fully satisfied.