Many of us think that starting a weight loss “diet” means forsaking the fattening foods we love. No sweets, no cream sauces, no chips, no wine, no fun! But this kind of weight loss plan can actually lead to more cravings, fixating on forbidden foods -- and goals abandoned long before their time. The truth, experts say, is that you can have your weight loss and eat cake, too -- as long as you "cheat" on your diet the sensible way! Taking away a person's favorite foods can be the death knell to a diet. I think splurging every so often on a diet is mandatory, not an option! As long as you cheat the right way! Plan to cheat Having a strategy is a key part of a cheat meal. Plan when and what you’re going to eat. Most experts agree that one shift at the trough per week is sufficient. It's a good idea to line up that cheat meal on a weekend or social occasion. By planning your cheat meal, you know what you'll be eating and can cut a few extra calories earlier in the day. Cheat in moderation There’s a cheat meal and there’s a cheat day(s). And the latter—going nuts on the weekend because you’ve been on-point with your diet during the week—is NEVER a good idea! A solid diet and exercise program will help you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week—a deficit of about 3,500 to 7,000 calories. Consider the average sit-down restaurant meal serves up 1,200 calories, and it’s easy to see how cheating too big or too frequently, can undo your weight loss efforts in a matter of hours. If you’re serious about losing weight, limit yourself to ONE cheat meal per week. Pick a date, a meal time and a restaurant; and put it in the diary. Eat only what you love If it's bad [for your diet], it had better be good!! So instead of grabbing a trio of donut holes each morning with your coffee -- and distractedly downing 300 calories -- splurge on something worth savoring, like a small, perfect wedge of creamy cheesecake. Make it worth it and savor every bite!!! Go beast-mode before feast-mode Another trick to minimize fat gains from your cheat meal is to deplete your glycogen stores—the sugar in your system that your body burns up for energy. Why does it work? The body won’t store carbohydrate as body fat until its glycogen reserves are full, so the emptier your tank, the more room you have for, say, spaghetti, before it ends up on your thighs. How do you do it? Hit the gym before your cheat meal (ideally before you eat anything that day). High-rep circuit style workouts are the best depletion workouts. Even 20 minutes can make a dent! Eat what you love, in small portions You can have it all, just not all in one day. No food is off-limits as long as you keep your portions reasonable. At least every other day I satisfy my sweet tooth with a couple of bites of dark chocolate that I keep in the freezer so it melts slowly and satisfies my craving without consuming too many calories. When eating out, assume the worst That’s just the long and short of it. For example, a palm-sized piece of meat cooked in a restaurant usually has at least another 120 to 150 calories of fat that has absorbed during cooking. A cup of pasta or potatoes would range from 180 to 200 calories but if there’s a sauce or other source of fat, that can easily double. Even vegetable dishes can contain large amounts of “hidden calories” in the form of high-fat additions like butter, oil, and cheese. As for desserts, well, a good rule of thumb is most contain anywhere from 25 to 50 calories per tablespoon. So, the point here is you HAVE to watch what you order when you eat out. It doesn’t take much put down a few thousand calories in that one meal!! If you want to be able to drink and still lose weight efficiently… Don’t drink more than one day per week. Restrict your dietary fat intake that day. Don’t eat any high-fat foods while you’re drinking. Stay away from carb-laden drinks like beer and fruity mixed drinks(stick to dry wines and spirits or if you have to have a shot of your favorite liquor on the rocks). It’s that simple. Cheating incorrectly is one of the major reasons so many people can’t lost weight no matter what they do with their diets. They simply don’t realize that you can eat super clean all week and, in one weekend, put yourself right back at square zero. Cheat correctly, though, and you can have the best of both worlds: the satisfaction of overeating without the penalty of major fat gain. Enjoy...just within reason!!!