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Cheating, Treating and Eating – by Nutritionalist, Monique Piderit


We know that the stores are filled with delicious things like sweets, savoury pies, quick pick me ups like sodas and freshly baked cakes that fill the air with a tempting aroma. And, while we live a busy, frantic life, it’s not only easy to drop into the store to pick up something “quickly” but it’s also easy to tell yourself that you’ve worked hard and that you deserve a treat.

We know our stores are filled with yummy things, but we hope that our layout of putting fresh produce first, and always including a healthy option in our “grab and go” aisle help you make good choices.

To share even more, we’ve asked Monique from Nutritional Solutions to help us with some guidelines.

Cheating with Your Eating by Monique Piderit, RD (SA)

Cheating is a reward-based strategy where you give yourself permission to break the diet rules, bringing in some flexibility and allowing a little room to indulge in your favourite treats. These brief moments of indulgence may help you stick to a prescribed, energy-controlled eating plan the majority of the time. If you’re going to cheat, here’s how to do so with maximum enjoyment and minimal damage.

  1. Define the Cheat

For some it may be a delectable slice of chocolate cake; for others it’s salty hot ‘slap’ chips. Define for yourself what your cheat foods are so that when the cheating moment arrives, you’ve planned to use your cheat wisely and not waste it on foods that you would otherwise not really enjoy.

  1. Let thy Cheat Be Thy Motivator

Cheating can effectively motivate some people to stick to their diet. Occasionally allowing yourself to indulge in foods not permitted on your diet should be used as a motivation to stick to your planned, healthy diet most of the time.

  1. Don’t “Healthify” The Treat

Think cauli pizza and dairy-free/ fat-free/ sugar-free cheesecake as a “healthy” twist of your old favourites. While this may have noble intentions, chances are that you’ll end up eating a similar amount of energy (or more) for much less taste and satisfaction. The best food to conquer a craving is the food that you are craving.

  1. Remove the Guilt

In 2013, a study published in Appetite found that participants who associated chocolate cake with guilt lost less weight than those associating chocolate cake with celebration. The word cheat has a culturally negative connotation, often associated with feelings of guilt. While guilt has the potential to motivate behaviour change in some, it may lead to feelings of helplessness in others. It is an important and powerful skill to enjoy your favourite treat foods guilt-free.

  1. Be Intentional

Cheat mindfully and with intention and you will need only a few bites to be fully satisfied. Have a few slices of pizza while at lunch with friends instead of guzzling the whole pizza alone in front of the TV. Pay attention to how the food smells and tastes and remove distractions. Chew slowly in order to fully enjoy the treat in that moment.

  1. Avoid a lot of Cheats in a Row

The traditional cheat day sets you up for an all-or-nothing mentality that may do more damage than one cheat meal would. For this reason, cheat moments as single meals or snacks may be preferred over entire cheat days.

  1. Cheat on a Full Stomach

You still need to maintain some degree of self-control with your cheat to avoid unraveling all your hard work. The best way to do this is to cheat on a full stomach. Have the treat that you really want, whether it’s ice cream or an extra glass of wine, after or alongside a healthy and balanced Sunday lunch. This way you don’t give yourself excuses to turn one indulgence into a spiral of over eating as you started off the indulgence a lot less hungry.


  1. Kuijer RG, Boyce JA. Chocolate cake. Guilt or celebration? Associations with healthy eating attitudes, perceived behavioural control, intentions and weight-loss. Appetite. 2014;74:48-54.


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