How to Keep Yourself from Cheating On Your Diet

Falling off the wagon even just once can lead to a week of cheating, so how do you stay on track? Experts offer these tips to keep yourself on target

You’ve tossed out the candy, swapped ice cream for Greek yogurt and replaced your mid-afternoon candy bar with an apple. But, you still wrestle with that little voice in your head that tells you it’s okay to ditch it all just this once? Here's what to do.

Break the connection

If certain activities trigger food cravings, such as sitting on the couch at the end of the day, shake up your routine, says Debi Silber, MS, RD, a weight loss, fitness and wellness expert from Long Island, New York. “Sit somewhere else or have decaf tea as a way to break the association that triggers eating during your favorite show.”  

Whiten your teeth

Do something that isn’t compatible with eating, such as putting on a strip of tooth whitener or a coat of nail polish, says Silber. “This keeps your hands and mind busy so you won't easily grab trigger foods. And link the thought of grabbing the food with the decision to do something else instead. For example "Every time I go to the cabinets to reach for those cookies, I'm going to head to the bathroom and brush my teeth, polish my nails, clean out a drawer, put on a strip of tooth whitener, write in my journal, etc. instead.  

Ask yourself if it’s worth it

Adopt the L’Oreal attitude, says Carol Meerschaert, MBA, RD, a Pennsylvania dietician. “Eat only the things you really want. Is it the most amazing cookie you’ve ever seen? Go for it. A store bought thing you can get any day of the week? Not worth it.” Then savor that first bite and decide bite by bite if your craving is satisfied.

Keep healthy reminders in front of you at all times

Why did you decide to make this healthy change? Whether it’s to enjoy more time with your children or to work towards a physical fitness goal, keep those reminders on your refrigerator, says Alison Massey, MS, RD, dietitian with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD. “Create a poster highlighting what you hope to achieve by making healthy lifestyle changes with pictures and words representing your aspirations.”

Change your mindset

Instead of seeing that cupcake as a delicious sweet treat, think of the ways it prevents you from having the body, energy, health and confidences you want, says Silber. “Looking at it that way makes it much less appealing.” Think of the cupcake as a frosted fiend that keeps you from living life to the fullest or from being the role model you may want to be for those you care about. “Nothing tastes as good as the way you'll feel when you're at the top of your game,” says Silber. “A different perspective can help change how you look at the foods that had that grip on you.”

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