Watching mouths devour the rich, creamy chocolate bar, whilst trying to resist the overpowering feelings of temptation. 'Maybe just one piece' your mind tells you, the urge to eat is getting unbearably stronger. You may be able to relate to this situation, whether you've been living a healthy lifestyle for a while or have just began trying to eat healthy. Whatever your dietary conditions are, you will probably have cravings for unhealthy and healthy food throughout life. I'm not going to write this and lie by saying that it's going to be easy, because sorry it's not always going to be. If you're craving food which you class as healthy, then go eat it! However, if you're craving food which you know is unhealthy and you want to resist the urge to eat the specific food, carry on reading to find out my tips on making the urge to resist cravings easier.
Set yourself an example by sticking to your word
Often if you find yourself in situations where you're the only person in the room who eats healthily, you may feel pressured into eating the foods which you don't want to eat. However,I've found what works for me is remembering any comments I've ever received about how healthy I am and remembering the feelings of joy I experience when I'm able to lift more weights or complete more pullups. By remembering how I felt during these situations, I think to myself how happy I will be if I resist the craving. Some thoughts which usually run through my head when surrounded by others eating unhealthily is 'the people who look up to me because of my self control would not appreciate if I couldn't control myself in such an easy time like this' or 'I have an example to set for myself as there are no other healthy role models here, I should become the rolemodel for myself and others without having to mention to others about what they're eating, as it is their choice after all'. As you can see by the way I typed that, when I'm in challenging positions I'm able to motivate myself easily, but some thoughts may be controversial depending on the food. On the other hand, i've noticed by using this method of encouragement to resist cravings, that I stick to my word and plan of eating healthy which makes me feel happy.
Think about the future
Sometimes when I'm on the edge of deciding whether to eat a specific food, I'll think about how it will impact me. Your future goals should be clear and important to you, therefore if you aren't motivated by where you want to be, perhaps you need to set your goals differently. Don't forget that after you eat something you didn't want to, you may experience feelings of guilt or stupidity. But try not to beat yourself up over it, the majority of people know the feeling when you've let yourself down. It is also good to know what guilt feels like so perhaps you can think to yourself how bad you may feel once you've eaten the food. Maybe you could even try to turn this around and not think badly after you've eaten something you shouldn't have. You could do this by being mentally strong and determined to strive, therefore it is just a part of your learning journey. You could think about the short-term future too, for example how it would benefit you by waiting until the weekend or a specific date when you think it is acceptable to have a 'cheat'. Sometimes when I'm on the edge of deciding whether to eat a specific food, I'll think about how it will impact me.
For example, take a look at the table I made.
Thinking about alternatives
Sometimes the best way of getting over cravings is through distraction, as often people eat when they're bored (which is okay, but not if they're eating unhealthily or eating foods they don't want to eat). Some things which may help to distract yourself if you're tempted to eat something unhealthy are:
I think that a huge part of getting over cravings is developing a positive, determined and self-controlled mindset. You may not be able to live healthily if you're attitude towards everything is going to be weak, negative and acting as if something takes 'effort'. I recommend if you've failed to start eating healthily many times, to start slowly. Write out your goals, what you might crave, what you should eat instead, foods you could perhaps place somewhere else to prevent you from eating them and most importantly how much you want the life you're trying to gain. If you aren't prepared to fight for what you want when trying to eat healthily, then you may find yourself stepping backwards, defeated by your own mind. Don't forget that many people who are high in the fitness industry all had to start from somewhere, I had to start from somewhere, your role model had to start from somewhere. But in order for progress to be made, changes must be made and these changes must not be reversed (no matter how hard it is, as remember your body can conquer anything, it's your brain you have to convince).
You'll have to trust me on this one...
When I first began eating healthier again back in 2015, times were tough when resisting cravings and I remember the feelings of how I was so addicted to unhealthy food. I remember that the first month when I started my plan, I found it incredibly difficult to even go a few hours without some form of junk food. But eventually, every time I resisted a craving, the cravings slowly went away. Bit by bit, I didn't even occur to me when the last time was that i'd eaten a specific food. I mean now and again I definitely had slip ups which resulted in me eating junk, but afterwards I'd step my game up and return back on track. I paid the price of guilt when I ate food I didn't want and I can truly say that I paid it so much that now I don't feel the need to eat junk in the slightest. However, every saturday if I am up for it, I will eat some form of junk. But the cravings for unhealthy food no longer put stress upon me as I only crave foods like fruit, vegetables, chicken (oh no I'm hungry now), cheese and carbs (I am ADDICTED to bread, but as long as I'm happy with my diet then I don't really care). The image attached to this paragraph is me in 2015, the day I began my plan (I never thought I'd still be taking progress pictures 2 years later!). I look so young on the images and my muscles are definitely more tone now, I will eventually post an image of a before and after, however it may be better to post in September when it has been exactly 2 years.
Thanks for reading this post, I hope i've helped as much as I can. But its all up to you now to make those final craving decisions!
Depending on your own personal lifestyle decisions, you may not have cheat days or know what one is. Some people may choose to eat whatever they want whenever they want, eat one cheat a day/week, follow a 'if it fits your macronutrients' lifestyle, or not eat cheats at all. Personally, I choose to have one cheat day a week (a total of 4 or less a month, depending on how I'm feeling and how much I'm exercising). Sometimes I won't allow myself to have a cheat day one week if I feel as if I haven't had a valid excuse not to workout or if I simply do not want one. However, I must admit that some days I'll find myself eating small unhealthy treats in the middle of the week instead of waiting until Saturday. But again, I may choose a different day in the week to have my cheat day. In my eyes, its completely a personally choice! Carry on reading to find out more about what I class as a cheat day, what happens during the day and some unhealthy but addictive cheat foods I enjoy.
What I view a cheat day as
I view a cheat day to be a day which consists of consuming some (not all) food or drink items which may be unhealthy or seen as bad to eat when trying to eat healthy. These food/drink items being consumed may be high in sugar, carbohydrates or saturated fats, this means you should try not to consume large amounts but an enjoyable amount (so don't make yourself feel sick because you've been resisting cravings all week, this is a mistake I made at first). They're usually the items which have long lists of chemical names on the pack of product packages, names which are long and that you're probably unfamiliar with. Although these items are not good to consume regularly, if you're craving something I would say go for it! If you're working hard enough, you should be able to reward yourself and if you view a reward as a cheat food, then go ahead and eat your favourite treat. A cheat day could contain mixtures of unhealthy and healthy items as you don't want to have a sugar crash or eat so much junk that you feel sick. Also, many people may view cheat days differently to me depending on how they eat. For example, someone who doesn't eat carbs in their diet may not eat carbs on their cheat day or may eat many carbs (if that's what they wish to do).
An example of what happens during my cheat days
Here's an example of how my cheat days usually go:
Saturday morning (8:00am - 12:00pm)
Firstly, I'll eat a healthy breakfast which usually consists of fruit with either yogurt, weetabix or porridge. Then, I'll usually go to Irish dance or Weightlifting, if I can't do these things I'll go for a run. During this, I'll usually have a snack (raisins or granola bar) or drink some water (I wont have any cheats in the morning).
Saturday afternoon (12:00pm - 4:00pm)
When I arrive home from the activity I've done, I'll have lunch. This usually consists of some form of fruit and veg, bread, protein (quorn meat) and possibly cheese. Now is when I'd have a small cheat with my lunch, this may be: crisps, a chocolate bar, a small packet of sweets or an ice lolly. A good hour or two after my lunch I'll usually be revising, completing homework, writing a blog post or I'm out with my friends/family. Whilst doing this I'll have three snacks which may be a mixture of unhealthy or healthy treats. An example of unhealthy snacks I may have are: biscuits, cookies, donuts, crisps, energy drinks, chocolate or fizzy sweets. An example of healthy snacks I may have are: fruit, veg, crackers, nuts, seeds, toast or a cereal bar.
Saturday evening (5:00pm - 9:00pm)
Sometimes on a Saturday evening, I may go out for dinner somewhere with my family (but not often), however if we do go out I'll usually eat something similar to the following: A roast dinner, pasta, pizza (minus any sauce or meat, literally cheese and bread), salad or if there's anything else I feel like eating. If we don't eat out somewhere I'll have a pretty standard meal at home usually consisting of vegetables, fish or quorn meat, rice, pasta or bread. After my meal, I'll often have a dessert which may consist of some cake, ice cream or simply sweets/popcorn or pretzels (It varies depending on what I've eaten previously, sometimes I won't even feel like dessert). After this, I'll often chill on my phone, watch a film or tidy my room. Just before I begin my workout for the day, I may eat a small snack which may benefit my workout or can be classed as a 'pre-workout' food.
Saturday night (9:00pm - 12:00am)
Once I've finished my workout, I'll probably shower and perhaps have an apple or a small packet of dried fruit. Then I'll relax, get myself reading for bed, fill in all of the food I've consumed on to my Lifesum app and fill in my bullet journal for the day. I use lifesum to measure my macronutrients and to see if the food I'm eating meet my macros. I'm not strict with fitting in with the numbers but it is very helpful to understand the amounts of fats, carbs and proteins you're eating and is great to track if you're eating too much or too little. For example, from my personal calculations (depending on my weight, height, gender and physical abilities) I limit myself to eat 2,280 calories a day. This adds up to 1140 carb calories, 684 fat calories and 456 protein calories. Here's a link to the Lifesum app/ website, I recommend checking it out:
My favourite cheat foods
Some of my favourite foods to eat on my cheat days are:
Kinder bars - Quite small amounts of chocolate
Double peanut butter magnums - Great dessert when it's hot
Airheads - I took these on my DofE too, taste great
Cookies - Always been a fan, my favourite brand is Nougatelli or Oreos
Cadburys daim chocolate bar - I usually have half or a quarter of a bar
Pringles - Nice, but I can never manage to eat a lot
Caramel galaxy bars - My favourite chocolate bar
Thanks for reading this post. Please note that this is just my personal cheat day and that I encourage you to find what is best for you when wanting to have a cheat day.
A 17 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.