The Guilt Free Hack To Cheat On Keto
I HAVE A CONFESSION….
I used to think about cheating all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.
I’d gaze longingly at sweets and all my old favorites and be wracked with guilt almost immediately.
This would often be enough to help me resist the urge to “cheat” for just a little longer, and was often accompanied by feelings of loss, frustration and being deprived of things I had enjoyed for so long.
This mentality is an all-access season pass to ride the yo-yo diet merry go round most of us are all too familiar with.
Think about it…
How does the word “Cheat” make you feel?
Not good, right?
It is a word that triggers a negative emotional response, which is the last thing we want when we are going through a diet change.
Look at Cheat in the dictionary and you’ll find definitions and associated words like:
My God could we attach any more negativity to our mindset when indulging???
Inevitably, after countless internal mental arguments, reasoning, and justifications we have convinced ourselves, or given ourselves, an excuse to “cheat”, and deal with the guilt later.
It usually looks something like this for most of us.
- You are at a barbecue with extended family, and there is a veritable buffet of sweets, cookies, cake or other carb/sugar temptations calling your name
- You’re out for date night, girls night whatever, and decide to “cheat” and enjoy that sweet, sweet margarita or other syrupy sugar-loaded cocktail that looks so good and dang it, it’s been a hell of a week and you deserve it, you’ve EARNED IT!
- You’re at a concert, game or the movies, and you can’t imagine not enjoying your favorite pretzel beer popcorn combo as you have countless times before
If your anything like me, the internal conversation using goes something like this…
“Screw this diet; I’m having a ______
So you have a piece of cake, maybe two, since you’re ALREADY cheating, might as well make it worth it, right?.
You have that popcorn at the movies (throw in some candy, since you’re ALREADY cheating, might as well make it worth it, right?
You have that delicious cocktail or glass of wine you deserve after a long and grueling work week, which turns into two or three more, since you’re ALREADY cheating, might as well make it worth it, right?.
The default response then is guilt and being mad at yourself.
This negativity has the potential to cascade in a series of “cheat days” where it gets harder and harder to break out of it.
Cheat day easily turns into a cheat weekend.
Cheat weekend then bleeds over to “just one more day” Monday.
Which leads to “well I’ve already ruined the start of the week, and it was so delicious, so I’ll get back on the wagon AFTER this week, start Fresh NEXT Monday”.
Fast forward a month, the weight you’ve lost is back, and you are once again on the yo-yo merry-go-round.
Rinse and repeat the above sequence of events until you become part of the statistics on why most diets fail.
So What’s a Gal to do??? Stick with me here, I’m going to show you another way!
How does a “Yes day” or Yes meal” sound? That FEELS better right?
On the surface, these two things appear to be the same: you are going to have more carbs than Keto allows.
So why does it matter what you call it?
It is all about mindset.
Look at Yes in the dictionary and you’ll find definitions and associated words like:
- a vote in the affirmative
I want all of you to take a moment, seriously, and say out loud that you are going to have a cheat day this weekend, and feel the emotions that come along with that.
Does it look and feel like the “cheat” list words above?
Now do the same, but this time call it a “YES” day!
Look and feel anything like the above list of YES words and emotions?
You are describing the EXACT same intention to go off plan and overindulge in carbs, but there is a stark difference in the mentality and approach.
In the cheat mode, you are simply riding and justifying a wave of guilt and desire in a downward spiral of indulgence.
In yes mode, you are making a conscious, fully aware, knowledgable and educated decision to reward your hard work and efforts without throwing all your progress out the window.
We want to stay positive and be kind to ourselves; otherwise, we set ourselves up for failure.
Try this next time you are faced with something tempting, or if you know an event is coming up in the future:
Stop and ask yourself a few questions
- Is that food worth going off-plan?
- Have I had a LOT of “yes” days lately?
- Am I choosing to indulge and enjoy or am I giving in to cravings?
- Is there an awesome Keto alternative that will be just as good without going off plan?
Here’s one of these scenarios I find myself in almost weekly when I go grocery shopping.
I’m strolling through the grocery store and see the beautiful pile of sweet potatoes (one of my FAVORITE indulgences) calling out my name! And they sound so good!
I say to myself: “I’ve done well, and I haven’t gone over on carbs in a long time. I’m going to make myself a sweet potato with dinner tonight, but then I’m going to go right back to my Keto way.”
So I have a sweet potato, enjoy it, hop right back on the wagon, and I don’t feel bad about it;
I gave myself permission to say “Yes” to a reasonable indulgence.
Woot! This approach is doable because I am not depriving myself of something that I love, or beating myself up because I “cheated.”
It seems to be human nature from a very young age to want and desire the things we view as forbidden or off-limits.
By simply shifting your mindset, and viewing the choice as a yes day instead of a cheat day…
You’ll shut down the feelings of forbidden and off-limits and make it infinitely easier to keep walking and not succumbing to those initial cravings.
Let’s say you forget to stop and asses the situation, and this goes down:
You give in during a moment of weakness without acknowledging it as a “yes” moment.
The momentary lapse immediately gives way to the same old feelings of guilt and negativity that you have failed again.
Don’t Do This.
Allow yourself not to be perfect.
If you forgot to have that conversation with yourself in the beginning, have it immediately after the deed is done, and then, and this is the most important part…
forgive yourself and move forward.
To quickly recap everything above:
With a “Yes” meal, you are permitting yourself to indulge reasonably, and then hop right back on the keto train.
Using this method ends up creating a POSITIVE experience.
Versus cheating, where you are “BAD” for not sticking to your diet, feel guilty, and in many cases, fall completely off the wagon, and continue the spiral of negativity.
Wait Sterling, are you telling me it is okay to have days where I blow my carbs?
ABSOLUTELY, and here’s why.
You will have a tough time being successful on Keto if you can NEVER have (insert favorite food).
It is your favorite thing, and there is NO WAY you can follow a diet if you feel like you can’t eat it ever ever ever again.
Hence the mindset shift; the YES day instead of the CHEAT day.
For me, I’m not on a diet.
I follow a ketogenic way of eating. I will eat this way forever.
I will also have days where I
- have a “yes” day,
- go off plan, whatever you want to call it.
(There are some benefits to doing this, it’s called carb-cycling, a topic I will cover in the future, but if you’re curious, ask me!)
Balance is the key to success here.
If the plan is to maintain your weight and health long term, you have to look at the long game.
If you constantly feel deprived, especially for long periods, there is no way that you can stick to any diet, and is often cited as one of the most common reasons diets fail.
That said, I do have some advice for you about “yes” days.
Wait until you’re well established in Keto first.
I’m talking at LEAST a month, but I strongly recommend waiting at least three to six months.
There are a few reasons:
You have to break that carb addiction cycle.
If you have carbs too soon after starting Keto, it can kick those cravings back up.
In fact, it can happen at any point along your Keto Journey, but it is harder to overcome those cravings earlier on.
There has to be enough time invested in changing your relationship with food.
Old habits die hard.
But once you have been eating this way for an extended period of time, it becomes second nature, the new and healthy normal for you.
Therefore, it will be easier for you to get right back to normal after a Yes day.
It takes time for your body to be adapted to running on fat.
If you have a Yes day too soon, it will be harder for your body to shift back to fat-burning mode from carb-burning mode, and you are much more likely to experience those Keto Flu symptoms again.
Once your body is adapted, it will prefer fat; so when you give it carbs once in a while, it will burn through it and get right back to where it wants to be using fat as fuel.
Be careful with the frequency of your yes days!
It can be easy to find reasons to have yes days.
For example, if you attend a lot of social or family events where food is involved, it can get out of control.
A wedding, a BBQ, going to the movies, date night, out for lunch with a friend, etc.
Many people who struggle with sticking to Keto have a hard time because they end up having “yes” days every weekend.
This can then become a “Normal” habit.
It can also be easy to justify having a “yes” day when you’ve had a “yes” meal, and then having a “yes” weekend, which can then spill over into Monday, etc.
Are you pickin up what I’m throwin down?
This is where the conversation you have to have with yourself before saying yes comes in handy.
Be mindful of the food you eat for a “yes” day or meal.
One of the things that you will notice when you change your diet is how certain foods affect you.
Some are likely to make you feel much worse physically afterward than you would think.
There’s a quote from a documentary we watched awhile back that has stuck with us.
“I had no idea how bad I was feeling until I finally stopped feeling that way”.
I recommend sticking with eating fruit or starchy veggies that you don’t usually eat on Keto, rather than processed foods. (My go-to is sweet potatoes, if you haven’t noticed!)
There are a few reasons for this:
- You probably won’t feel as gross
- You’ll get more nutritional value from these foods
- It is less likely that cravings will pop back up
- These are “good” carbs instead of processed junk carbs.
So pay attention to what happens when you eat this stuff, you may find that it isn’t worth the aches and pains you’ll face if you indulge. This is coming from a woman that thought she’d never give up soft pretzels, bread and beer. I found that the way they made me feel just wasn’t worth it.
SO, change your mindset, take full responsibility and control of your decisions and, most importantly,
KEEP CALM AND KETO ON!
Struggling to get started and not sure what your first steps should be? Check out the Start here section for several articles to get you going in the right direction without being overwhelming, also be sure to grab a copy of our free, detailed FREE 7 day meal plan that includes a bonus shopping and prep list!