How to shift your thinking from cheat meal to a healthy lifestyle

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The smell of brownies baking in the oven is the one smell that will derail my diet in a second. The warm gooey brownies coming out of the oven has me salivating the entire time. I have learned that I can eat brownies because I was able to shift my mindset from cheat meal to a healthy lifestyle.

When you are working really hard at losing weight and all you can think about is brownies, or ice cream or pizza, then you know you are in need of a cheat meal.


My favorite cheat meal is pizza and brownies and ice cream. Knowing how much you can eat cheat meal is the key to being able to hop back on track the next day.


As cheat day approached, I had to figure out some parameters. Mainly because my husband is a man of absolutes. He has a hard time indulging in just 1 meal. I, however, I can have a cheat meal or dessert and get right back on the next day.

Related: This is what I changed to lose 5 pounds

Why a cheat meal?


At the beginning of March, my husband and I set out on a quest to lose weight. He was a lot overweight and I knew I had to lose some weight. You can read about how I lost 5 pounds in a month here.


We followed a pretty strict “diet” and didn’t allow ourselves grains, dairy or sugar or alcohol. When you take out that much from what you eat, you can lose weight and it generally comes off rather quickly.


But the downfall to this is that you crave food. I mean your cravings are so bad that you have literal dreams of eating twinkies and cookies and brownies and pizza. I think you get the idea.

So how do you go from eliminating nothing to maintaining a diet where you don’t eat the bad stuff?


The struggle to find the balance in eating clean and loving yourself enough to allow a “cheat” knowing you are going to get back on your healthy lifestyle.

All or Nothing


If you have a hard time thinking about a cheat meal and think it’s all or nothing then I have a few recommendations for you.


Be kind. You need to be kind to yourself. You can not expect yourself to have a perfect “diet” all the time.


Exercise. If you know you are going to be eating off plan later in the day, get your exercise in early! Maybe do a little extra so you can avoid the guilt.


Be a planner. Think about your cheat meal and know exactly what you are going to eat, This will help to decrease the anxiety around how much you are ruining your diet.

I created this FREE Menu Planning Printable that will help you have a plan! You can download it instantly by filling out this form:

Related: 3 Life changing steps to lose weight

What to eat for a cheat meal


I am a planner. I tend to think about something for a few days before I decide it’s time to allow myself to indulge. Honestly, since I’m from Chicago, pizza is probably the one thing that I indulge in the most.


Cheat meal to a healthy lifestyle


I know there is a lot of talk about which is better. In my honest opinion, I think learning to change your mindset and follow a healthy lifestyle is more beneficial in the long run.


The problem is that a healthy lifestyle evolves after you have been a dieter for a while. It also evolves after you make the mental shift to start to listen to your body. Once that shift happens, then following a healthy lifestyle is easy to do.


How do you go from dieting to a lifestyle?


The mental shift from dieting to lifestyle happens the moment you decided you are no longer going to be a slave to food. Once you decide you are going to eat to live and not live to eat, THEN you will shift to a healthy lifestyle.


The shift can literally happen overnight. I remember distinctly when it happened to me. I was in my late 20’s and I was pretty heavy. But I had decided that I was going to shift to eating healthy.


When I was making the shift, I asked God for some help. I knew that I wouldn’t be perfect. That I would have moments where I ate the whole damn pan of brownies. But I strived after the healthy lifestyle.


Currently, I am watching my husband make the shift. He has struggled with food since I met him. He is a foodie. I have never met someone who loves food more than my husband.

Shifting to a healthy eating lifestyle is different than dieting. You don’t have to tell yourself you can’t have sugar for a month. In a healthy lifestyle, you can have A brownie, but you just can’t eat the whole pan. You can have some ice cream, just not the whole carton. And you can’t have them every day.

Some tools I use to make the shift


Menu planning and meal prep. I use $5 meal plan and it is the best thing since sliced bread! Seriously, it has helped me with keeping our budget on track. It also helps me with meal prepping.

I use these awesome little dishes. They are glass, but I love the 3 compartments for meal prepping. It makes prepping food fun. And I like that they are glass so I can see how the food looks.


Meal prepping is the single thing that actually helps with the shift to eating healthy. When you can see the healthy meal already packed for your lunch it makes it harder to go out and purchase a meal.

I love using these bistro type containers so I can keep my food separate and see how many portions of fruit and veggies and proteins I have packed.

If you are just beginning in your healthy lifestyle, I recommend you say a little prayer and ask God for help in the journey. After that, I recommend continuing to educate yourself on food. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to continue your health journey.

Shifting from cheat meals to a healthy lifestyle is a continuous journey. Somedays are awesome, and some days aren’t.

I would love to hear about your journey to a healthy lifestyle. What are some of your favorite tools you use? Don’t forget! I created this FREE Menu Planning Printable that will help you have a plan! You can download it instantly by filling out this form:

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