Cheat Meals While Dieting

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Can You Cheat On Your Diet
And Still Lose Weight?

By Bonnie Pfiester of

During a recent business trip, I decided to pick up a couple of magazines in the hotel gift shop. We had just finished teaching a seminar on diet where we addressed some hot topics like cheating. Ironically, one magazine caught my eye with its catchy bold heading proclaiming “cheat on a diet and still get results”. That’s when I realized maybe it’s time to define the word “cheat”.

Of course everyone would like to believe you can get results and still have ice cream too. Every diet program on the market relies on this belief system to help pull consumers in by using ads to make people believe their program allows you to still indulge while losing weight. Although this may be somewhat true the overall message is misleading.

First, let’s address the word “cheat”. I believe we think of the word as if it means “treat” but Webster would give you synonyms like deceive, trick and con. Unfortunately, the only one you are deceiving is yourself. It’s not like you are cheating on your diet and your body doesn’t pick up on the extra calories.

When I think of cheating on a diet, I think of going to my favorite restaurant or getting some ice cream. Since I don’t visit my favorite restaurant or ice cream parlor very often, they are always a big treat to me. However, many people “cheat’ weekly and sometimes daily. This is not cheating – this is just a bad habit.

Secondly, cheating on a diet means different things to different people. Some dieters can have a 300 calorie small cup or ice cream once a week and call it cheating. Other people may diet during the week and go wild over the weekend, eating countless calories, and call that cheating. Both are cheating, but one is cheating responsibly and another is not.

Let’s compare dieting to saving money. Can you save money and splurge every once and a while? Sure, but there must be limits on what “splurging” means. Splurging for some is buying a Lou Vuitton handbag while splurging for others means going to the movies. What you splurge on should be based on what you can “afford”. Either way, the less you splurge the more you save. The same principles apply to weight loss.

The more you cheat, the more you slow down your progress. If you must have your chocolate, then work it into your caloric allowance. Basically you need to “budget” it in your diet. If you are really watching your calories during the week, you need to keep track of how many calories you are taking in over the weekend too – that includes cheating.

Lastly, there must be different rules for different people. If you have more than one child you know you can’t expect each one to react the same. My two sisters and I are all very different. My mom could tell one sister not to touch the stove and she’d never touch it again. On the other hand, if she told my other sister not to touch the stove we might as well get the First Aid kit.

It’s not fair to expect everyone to be able to play by the same rules. We are all different and have different personalities and weaknesses. My husband, for instance, loves Tostitos Restaurant Style with a Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips. Steve knows he can’t act responsibly when it comes to these chips. If he eats one, he will eat the whole bag so we can’t buy them when we are dieting. Just because others can lose weight and still have Tostitos chips doesn’t mean he can. You must know your limits.

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