How To Eat Healthy, Even When A Cheeseburger Is Right There

Don’t be afraid of “cheating.”

Look, you’re going to eat some fatty, sugary, delicious foods every now and then, and you’re supposed to. Cheating rids the brain of cravings, and leaves you able to abide by the rest of your eating plan worry-free; and also, life is short and you should enjoy things. Lots of so-called clean eaters eat at least one cheat meal a week; some cheat for a whole day even, though it’s technically not encouraged.

How you cheat is up to you. You can plan a day for your cheat, like Saturday, so as to have something to look forward to; you can cheat spontaneously. If it’s the latter, do not thereafter go into “f**k it” mode and binge because you think you stepped out of line. Doing this will lead you to either abandon your healthy ways completely, or, leave you with a really bad stomachache and maybe an extra pound. The best way to go about cheating—in my opinion—is to plan out your meal in advance. Maybe it’s a couple slices of pizza, maybe it’s a burger and fries, maybe it’s a small batch of cookies. Plan it, eat it, get back on the wagon.

Prep for extended events, trips, and vacations.

Vacations are hard. The hardest, actually. If you’re intent on staying the course while on trips, your first order of business is to be just that—intent. Do all you can to lessen the allure of unhealthy food, which will invariably be in abundance. Planning goes an extra long way here. If possible, go to a local grocery store and stock up on essential food items. And plenty of water.

Also, vacations will find those hating-a*s friends and family of yours at their extra temptingest, so be prepared for an onslaught of both seduction and snickers at any meal gatherings. The absolute best thing you can do whilst vacationing is move around as much possible. Go explore; exercise. The more physically active you are, the less you’ll think about food; the more you sweat, the less inclined you’ll be to wreck your efforts at the table. Which reminds me:

Junk food should not be treated as a reward.

It’s hard not to feel a bit entitled after a workout. Maybe you ran on the treadmill for half an hour, perhaps you rowed your heart out for 45 minutes, whatever; you just did a relatively strenuous activity, and survived it. You feel good about yourself and you should. However, burning a few extra calories shouldn’t be treated as license to subsequently go in on a bag of French fries; abecedarian as it sounds, just because you worked hard doesn’t mean you deserve a cookie.

Americans are conditioned to expect rewards for doing anything out of the ordinary; food especially has long been used as a treat. When I was younger, eating my vegetables meant getting dessert. If I had a particularly good sports game, I could then order whatever I wanted from Wendy’s. I always ordered a triple cheeseburger. My experiences are not unique; and it’s difficult to divorce those feelings of food nostalgia from your new, healthier life. When food has long grown out of being a source of sustenance, and instead serves as a source of award or comfort, it becomes difficult to tell people how to treat it.

It’s not my place to tell you how to view your meals. But in this capacity, the technical “reward” for adhering to a healthy diet is your cheat meal; your ultimate reward is the benefit of feeling healthy, and actually being healthy. If physically exerting yourself will increase your appetite, plan ahead with a banana or snack waiting for you when you come out of it. Satisfying hunger with a snack when you’re actually hungry will do the trick.

When things get hard—and they will—remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

You’re eating better for a reason. Maybe you don’t want to die prematurely; maybe you have a family you want to stick around for; maybe you have a crush; maybe your skin’s begun to chafe from all the extra fat, and it burns; maybe walking up stairs has turned into a veritable mountain-climbing expedition; maybe someone just called you a name (“fat-a*s,” maybe); maybe you just want to feel healthier. Any of these, any others, are good excuses to change your eating habits. But ultimately it’s the how, not the why, that will get you there.

Source: Alex Gray at Deadspin



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One Response

  1. Randall Griffin

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