Food is one of life's greatest pleasures, so with just about every diet I've ever prescribed, I've given "permission" for people to incorporate their favorite treats. It's something I make room for in my own daily life and believe others should, too.
This concept of eating your favorite treats while on a weight loss plan is often referred to as "cheat meals." But personally, I would never think of eating your favorite foods with planned indulgences as "cheating" on your diet. I'm not alone.
I don't like to use the word 'cheat meal' because I think it connotes that there are good and bad foods," a registered dietitian and health and wellness coach. "You think if you are 'cheating,' you are eating a portion of bad food, and it sets up a mind game."
"Cheat meals are an indication of not being happy with your diet," a registered dietitian in private practice and national media spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics.
Changing the word "cheat" to "treat" can make all the difference in the way foods are perceived and can prevent the potential for disordered eating, according to experts. But whether you call them "treats," "splurges" or something in between, most agree that there are positive aspects of including them in your diet.
Be true to your indulgences
It's important to choose the foods you really enjoy. That means a cheeseburger made with lean sirloin and one slice of cheese on a small whole-wheat bun might not cut it if you're really craving a "Samosa". Similarly, the fruit would probably not satisfy you if you really want ice cream or a piece of candy.
Try making your favorite foods healthier
Experts say that although you shouldn't shortchange yourself when it comes to eating what you crave, you can still try to make it more nutritionally valuable.
"Pizza can be made healthier if you order a whole-grain crust, add a lot of veggies and order half the cheese. And ice cream can be a better choice if you get a sorbet or eat a healthy meal and then enjoy some real ice cream for dessert,". "There is a better version of almost any 'cheat meal.'