Dear Cassey: How do I stop cheat meals from turning into cheat weeks?

Hi Cassey!
I find myself having a rocky relationship with food. I put a lot of pressure on myself to eat right but always cave to cheat meals and it is downhill from there. How do you incorporate the foods you love into your healthy eating habits without taking it too far?
To paint a picture, I’ll eat well all week but one cheat meal turns into a cheat weekend and next thing you know I’m eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Sorry this was long, I’ve recently discovered you and have been doing your workouts every day this week!
Fit Foodie

pizza with basil cheese white background favorite food

Dear Fit Foodie,

YAY! Welcome to the POPster fam!

I know EXACTLY how it feels to have a cheat meal snowball into a cheat day…and then into a cheat weekend. At first it feels well-deserved and satisfying. Then, it’s like eh, what can it hurt? And then the guilt and the stomach ache sets in. Food. Hangover.

The cycle of working hard to eat perfectly, then giving in to cravings and overindulging and then feeling guilty and beating myself up used to be a normal way of life. It was exhausting and not a healthy way to look at food. What finally helped me break the cycle was when I shifted my mindset around food a little.

It’s amazing that you’re determined to stay on track with healthy eating, but I want you to stop labeling foods as good and bad. It seems like we’re all trained to look at it that way, but breaking that habit is the key to making your relationship with food more positive! That means that “indulging” will become a part of normal eating and you’ll be able to eat your favorite foods with no guilt.

Okay, so here are some things you can do to make this happen:

First, food shaming is a no go.  Instead, you should eat what SOUNDS good and what makes you FEEL good. Which leads me to my next point – mindfulness.

Try to be really mindful about how your body feels before, during, and after you eat. Pay attention to how your emotions affect your cravings, to how full you are during your meal, and how you feel afterward. If I want pizza I’m not going to feel guilty about it. But I know that it usually makes me feel bloated and tired, so I’m better off at least eating a salad with it or making my own. Being present and mindful about food will help you find the balance you’re looking for so you can feel your best.

Next, set yourself up for success, especially when you’re most likely to eat more “junk food” than you’d like to. For example, let’s talk about the weekends. For most of us, we’re out of fresh food by the time we hit the weekend. If you don’t have healthy foods in sight and easy to access, it’s going to sound A LOT more convenient to just order that pizza. So you could plan to have some extra fruits/veggies/lean meats around. OR you could even keep your pizza night and make it a DIY pizza with more fresh ingredients. Basically, if convenience or time is the issue, you can work around that and still eat your favorite foods!

The same goes for sticking to your goals while having a social life. Things are a little different currently, but USUALLY being social on the weekends means going out to eat. DON’T skip it just to avoid “unhealthy” foods! Order those apps with your girlfriends and have a good time! If you want to balance it out, you can totally order a salad on the side or drink water instead of wine or cocktails.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, don’t restrict any food unless your body physically can’t tolerate it. Trust me, it’s like telling a toddler he can’t have a cookie. He will suddenly OBSESS over that cookie until he gets it, and then he’ll want like 5. Our brains work the same way as adults! When we tell ourselves we “can’t” have something we truly crave, the craving usually gets stronger. And thennnn if you’re like me, you end up eating more when you finally give in than you would have in the first place. It’s a lot easier mentally to just eat what you love and focus on balance and mindfulness. No stress and no guilt.

Hopefully this helps! If navigating this cycle is still an issue, you have a TON of support within the POPster community too!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

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