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When you commit a diet crime, you have to do the time (gym time, that is). Let the Gold's Gym experts help you calculate your food felonies and show you how to turn them into misdemeanors by picking healthy alternatives.
7 RULES TO CHEAT BY
A Cheat Sheet for Cheating
For insight into why we crave high-calorie treats and the best ways to trick your hunger, we spoke to clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, Gold's Gym Fitness Institute member and author of Get a Grip: Your Two-Week Mental Makeover.
#1 Go for the crunch: The more you chew, the more your mind thinks you're eating. "Fast food is very soft. So you don't have to really chew it, and you have to eat more of it to feel satisfied," she says. "If you eat something that takes a lot of jaw-chomping, like carrots, you'll feel more full."
#2 Eat strong: Small bites of a flavorful food stimulate your taste buds, which send messages to your brain that you are eating. A food like blue cheese works. It has a strong taste and interesting texture, and you just need a bite or two.
#3 Indulge early: One rule of thumb is to eat guilt-inducing foods before 3 p.m., she explains. Then you have time to walk it off or go to the gym. The worst thing to do is to eat a big meal right before going to sleep, when you'll be expending less energy.
#4 Get past the plateau: People often get frustrated when their diet plan flatlines, and start cheating more often. Set a new challenge or try a new routine. Take a kickboxing class, or get a trainer. A break from the ordinary can banish the boredom and keep you from turning to food.
#5 Watch the sodium: Salt can suck your body dry of water, and your stomach interprets thirst as hunger. One quick indicator of hydration is your urine. "It should be light yellow. If it's darker, try drinking more water and cutting back on foods high in sodium."
#6 Plan ahead: "The people who eat well and stay thin map out their meals ahead of time. The more thought you put into what you're eating, the better off you are." That might mean packing your lunch to make sure you don't eat on the run, or stocking your desk with your healthy treats.
#7 Don't ignore depression: "Many people eat foods high in simple carbs for comfort because they're depressed. They give you a sugar spike that makes you temporarily happy." If you consistently overindulge to feel fulfilled, think about seeing a mental health professional.
You don't have to feel guilty on those rare occasions when you pull into the fast-food drive-through or head to the local ice cream parlor. According to Robert Reames, a Gold's Gym Fitness Institute member and author of Make Over Your Metabolism, indulging every now and then can actually complement a fitness program. "It would be boring to eat healthy all the time. Indulging periodically actually keeps you from overindulging on a regular basis," he says.
Mike Ryan, a Gold's Gym Fitness Institute trainer who has helped superstars slim down, agrees. "I'm a guy from Boston, I like to drink beer and eat burgers," he says. "But I make sure I go out there and work for it."
The most important thing is to know how much time you need to spend on the treadmill to burn off that bucket of buffalo wings. Having that information can help you decide when it's okay to go careening off the healthy highway. That's why we put together Eat This, Do That: The Cheating Calculator. Check out the menu below and click on your favorite diet no-no's to see how you can enjoy them without the guilt, and get healthier alternatives for the days when you want to stay on track.
And remember, the more you work out, the more often you can indulge. "Look at the gym as a metabolism igniter," Reames says. "Rock out the cardio and strength training—then you'll be burning more calories and fat while you rest, and you can indulge even more."
Scroll over the menu below to calculate the gym time for your favorite diet crime: