Having a healthy diet is a lifestyle choice, not a fad or a quick fix.
But even when being healthy is your way of life, everyone needs a break from their diet now and then (a chocolate break, to be more specific). So the trick to staying on track and keeping fit is by planning out your breaks strategically. If you know when you’re going to break your diet and can plan for cheat days ahead of time, you can have some guilt-free eating whenever the occasion arises! Here are a few of the best times it’s totally OK to break your diet.
#1 When You’re Pregnant
“When you’re expecting, your unborn baby relies on you for all the nutrients it needs for proper growth and development so this is not the time to try to drop those extra pounds,” says Karen Ansel, MS, RD and co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month to Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life. “If you want to slim down, do it before you get pregnant, not while you’re expecting. On the flip side, that doesn’t mean pregnancy is a free license to eat everything that’s normally off limits. While you really only need a few hundred extra calories a day during pregnancy, you need lots of extra nutrients, so make sure your calories go toward nutritious foods that will benefit you and your unborn child. “
#2 When You’re On Vacation
“While they aren’t an excuse to go hog wild, part of the joy of traveling is sampling the local food,” Karen says. “Since it’s not possible to eat everything without packing on the pounds, allow yourself one small splurge a day. In return, think of a tradeoff to balance that splurge like skipping the bread and butter with dinner, forgoing dessert, or sharing a salad with your partner instead of ordering an appetizer.”
#3 When It’s That Time Of The Month
Is it almost your time of the month and you know a big slice of your favorite chocolate cake will be calling your name? If you plan ahead, you’re in the clear to break your diet. “It’s OK to break your diet if you are saving up some calories for a splurge and you planned in advance for it,” says Registered Dietitian Rebecca Mohning. “The good news is you don’t even have to worry about feeling guilty or gaining weight if you saved some calories for it. So enjoy whatever it is!”
#4 When It’s A Special Occasion (Wedding, Anniversary, Etc.)
“Special occasions call for foods you may not typically eat. It’s fine to indulge once in a while, but keep an eye on portions and get right back on track at the next meal,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE and author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. For a more strategic approach to breaking your diet, Erin recommends living by her 80/20 Rule: “Eat only healthful, unprocessed, whole foods that fuel your body 80 percent of the time, and you can reserve 20 percent of the time for the occasional splurge.” So the next time you’re at an all-day wedding extravaganza, try to stick to the healthy options for dinner, and splurge with wedding cake and a cocktail or two.
#5 When It’s The Holidays!
There isn’t a time more famous for packing on the pounds than during the holiday season. Planning on an extravagant dinner? Go for it! As long as you stick to your usual routine right up until the day you splurge, you can spend your time during the holiday enjoying yourself. “The holidays are a natural time to break your diet because you’re with your family, everyone is together, and you want to enjoy the time,” says health enthusiast Erin Albano. “Food brings everyone together during the holidays, so it’s worth it to break your diet and enjoy yourself your time with your loved ones.”
So the next time you have your best friend’s wedding to attend, made plans for an extravagant fancy dinner, or you’re heading over to your parents house for the holidays, relax and enjoy yourself and the food that goes along with it. It’s important to stay on track and have a healthy diet, but with certain moments in life it’s OK to indulge — you can have your cake and eat it too!
Photo Credits: emerille, stu_spivack, Alan Cleaver, DC Central Kitchen via Flickr
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