When dieting, there are always those foods you feel are “off-limits.” You know, the ones that have dietary repercussions and can most-always set you back. (Mine, for example, are pizza and chocolate chip cookies.) But does that mean we have to avoid those foods at all costs? The answer, thankfully, is absolutely not. Honoring an occasional craving is far better than an all-out hanger-induced binge.
So how do you bounce back after eating a "cheat meal"? New York-based registered dietician Anita Mirchandani, cofounder of fitmapped.com, says the most important thing is making those first positive steps back in the right direction after a splurge.
"That's just one day, that's just one weekend -- you can always get back on track," Mirchandani says. "Life is about a balanced diet and exercise program, so if you fell off the wagon, just get back into it and squeeze in a workout where you can." But don't put pressure on yourself by going overboard to compensate for your splurge: “If you only have 15 minutes, do 15 minutes; if you only have 20, do 20," she says. "Don't be so hard on yourself to get that 45 to 50 minutes you've been doing over the past three weeks."
Mirchandani also suggests kick-starting your morning with a nutrient-dense green juice to set the tone for a healthy day of eating. From there, focusing on foods that are high in fiber and protein -- like whole grain English muffins or hardboiled eggs -- will help you get back on track. Carving out a day or two each week to prepare healthy staples to keep on hand will also help. A batch of ground turkey, for example, can be crumbled on top of a salad for lunch or dinner and offers a quick boost of protein. By doing a little prep work, you’re setting yourself up for success by lessening the chances that you’ll turn to takeout on a busy night when you don’t have time to cook.
Above all, Mirchandani stresses easing back into the swing of things. “You want to make sure you transition into it smoothly. That means, if you have to work back up to 30 minutes of fitness throughout the week, so be it.”
The bottom line: Don’t stress out about making up for the extra calories. Just make a commitment to return to your usual healthy habits, and the rest will fall into place in time.