How to not cheat on your diet
Do any of these sound familiar?
- You start your diet strong, but by 3 pm you’re turning the house inside out hunting for chocolate.
- It’s late at night and you hear cheesecake calling your name.
- You’re at dinner with friends, trying to resist the chips and salsa, but it’s so dang hard.
(I’ll raise my hand to those!)
And I’m betting you’re asking, “How do I stop cheating on my diet?”
If so, here are 7 ways to make cheating on your diet yesterday’s problem:
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7.) Follow the 5Ps of diet success.
Have you ever heard: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance?
Sure, we all have! And for a good reason. It’s 100% accurate. If we skip planning and rely on willpower to pull us through, we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re scraping the bottom of the bag.
We know willpower never seems to be there when you need it most, so to beat temptation, you need a plan!
And the easiest way to create one is to run through a series of “what if” questions.
- What if…it’s a late work night and I’m too tired to make dinner?
- What if…someone leaves donuts in the break room?
- What if…everyone wants pizza for lunch?
By thinking through common temptations BEFORE they happen, our odds of success skyrocket. But that’s only half the battle…
You need to take things one step further with a strategy called “implementation intentions.” That’s where you decide up front what you’ll do when you’re standing toe-to-toe with a tough temptation.
You have the “if” questions. Now, state what you’ll do when you’re in the moment.
Use this simple formula: “If” I’m in X situation, “then” I’ll take Y action.
- If I’m too tired to make dinner, then I will call in a healthy pick-up order.
- If there are donuts in the break room, then I will eat a snack before I walk through the door.
- If everyone wants pizza for lunch, then I’ll ask a friend to help me stay on track. (Bonus points if you let them order for you!)
6.) Be an expert at tiny barriers.
Far too often, the decision between an apple and a bag of chips comes down to what’s more convenient.
- The chips, they’re on the counter.
- The apple, well…do we even have an apple?
The question you need to consider is, “Are you controlling your environment or is it controlling you?”
The goal is to change your surroundings — to make healthy choices easy and temptations hard.
You’ve heard the suggestion, “If you don’t want to eat junk food? Then, clean out your kitchen and just throw it all away.”
And that’s excellent advice, but…
If you have a family, I’m going to go out on a limb and say trashing all the snacks isn’t an option.
So, what do you do now? Your strategy is to make tempting foods just slightly harder to get.
Here’s how to create tiny barriers:
- Temptation: Is ice cream the first thing you see when you open the freezer?
- Tiny barrier: Move it to the bottom. Maybe toss some frozen veggies on top.
- Temptation: Is the popcorn in arm’s reach?
- Tiny barrier: Move it to the top shelf in the pantry.
Don’t underestimate the power that even the smallest changes can have on your diet.
5.) Don’t let yourself get too hungry.
“Never go to the grocery store hungry. You’ll make bad decisions.”
Have you ever gone to the store hungry? How about after you ate? The difference is night and day!
Now take that same concept and apply it to your diet!
- Don’t go to lunch hungry. You’ll make bad decisions.
- Nothing good comes from starving yourself until dinner.
Okay! Now we’re onto something!
How can you avoid going to lunch hungry? For one, make sure you eat breakfast.
How can you keep yourself from overeating in the evening? You can eat every 3 to 4 hours during the day.
And my absolute favorite strategy: Eat before you eat! (That sounds great, doesn’t it?)
If you’re going to dinner with friends, have something light before you go.
Temptations seem to lose their power when you’re already satisfied.
4.) Change how you think about cheating.
Have you ever waited in anticipation for your “cheat day”? Friday is only two days away. I can’t wait!
And how does it feel when your cheat day finally arrives? It feels freeing, doesn’t it? You’ve suffered all week long and now you can finally eat what you want.
(Let’s stop and really take that in for a minute.)
Do you see how thoughts drive actions? You see the diet as suffering and the cheat day as how you *really* want to eat.
- Diet = Suffering
- Cheating = Enjoyment
But, what if it weren’t like that?
What if you saw healthy choices as the way to get the results you want, and the cheat day as the landmine sabotaging your goal?
- Diet = Accomplishment
- Cheating = Sabotage
When you hear that you need to change your relationship with food, this is what it’s all about.
Change your thoughts, and you change your actions. And when your actions change, the results will follow.
Remember: nothing changes if nothing changes.
3.) Learn to stop saying, I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
At MyBodyTutor, this is what we call “The Tomorrow Trap.” It’s what happens when we mortgage tomorrow’s happiness for today’s temptation.
We’ve all been caught up in the moment and thought, “I’ll just have one cookie. It’s okay, I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”
But the problem we run into is: we keep saying we’ll start tomorrow.
We imagine tomorrow is going to be easier. That we’ll be able to make hard decisions, but today…I’m just too dang tired, anxious, hungry, sick…
Know that tomorrow has the same challenges as today, yesterday, and last year. The time to start is now!
2.) Take “The Broccoli Test.”
Picture yourself standing in front of the refrigerator. You’re searching for something to eat. You’re not sure what you want, just that you want something.
This is a critical point in time. We’re in danger of cheating on our diet. And the most important question you can ask is: “Am I physically or emotionally hungry?”
But how do you know the difference? That’s where The Broccoli Test comes in.
Am I hungry enough for broccoli?
- If the answer is Yes, then you are physically hungry. Go ahead and eat.
- If the answer is No, could it be that you’re trying to avoid something? Perhaps you’re bored and looking to fill time with food. Or maybe you’re anxious.
The key to stop cheating on your diet comes down to one truth:
It’s never about the food. It’s what the food allows us to avoid.
When you’re on the fence, and you’re considering a cheat meal, ask:
- Am I hungry enough for broccoli? and
- Am I eating or using this food?
1.) Don’t try to do this by yourself.
Have you ever said, “Okay, this is my last slice of cake!” just to have another later? You made a promise but didn’t keep it. Which is what happens when we live without accountability.
Now imagine telling someone that cake isn’t an option, and they follow up with you and support you along the way.
It’s a world of difference!
Now, you might be saying, “I don’t need accountability, I can do this on my own.” And you’re right! You can. But if it were easy, don’t you think you would’ve done it by now?
Sometimes we need a jump start. To have someone there to help you build daily habits until they’re second nature. And that’s why accountability is so powerful.
All of our success stories started in the same place you’re in. Frustrated at their lack of progress and knowing there has to be something better.
If you’re ready to stop cheating on your diet once and for all, let’s get started!