"It's the hardest experience, it really is, 'cause you're eating a lot of boring stuff: chicken breasts and vegetables all the time. But it's cakes and pastas and breads and sandwiches and croissants (you crave) all the time. That's all you can think about . . . [so] you don't crack just slightly, you crack bad. I was with my girlfriends, we were out in New York City for a night, it was the cheat day. I saw Dunkin' Donuts. I said, 'Pull the car over, pull over right now!' We ran in, I got 24 donuts. We went to a pizza joint, and we got two large pizzas. I sat in the car and I put as much bread and dough in my mouth as I could possibly manage. It was the best moment." Jessica Biel on the Graham Norton Show.

As the first in our series of Cheating Well, we’re exploring the basics of a cheat day – and the importance of healthy eating, even when you’re cheating! Most dieters battle cravings and consider cheat days to be a trick of the mind, created to break through their resolve. A cheat day is often treated as a complete negation of weeks worth of hardcore exercise and diet maintenance. All of us have struggled to stick to our restrictive meals and felt guilty for even thinking of indulgences, whereas there are actually some very important reasons to approach "cheating" that can aid in your physical and mental health.

The loophole that saves the day is in defining what the term “Cheat Day” really means. It’s extremely important to understand that it isn’t about spending an entire day in a week shoveling down fries and carbs and all the other evils. Instead, you should designate one day (usually the weekend, when you're more likely to be out and about) during which you will cheat on your diet one time. A cheat day is a day when you cheat for one meal because let’s be honest the probability of a free fall into dietary chaos is higher if the cheat lasts a whole 24 hours. This singular cheat can include the main course of a meal or the addition of a dessert – but probably shouldn't include both, unless the dessert is a healthy one.

“One should eat everything especially healthy and not junk food. I don’t like the idea of starving. I would eat and burn it out in gym. The amount of intake is what matters,” says Kareena Kapoor.

When dieting for fat loss, average intake of carbohydrates and calories tends to be low. Over time, your body realizes it is taking in fewer calories than it is burning and in turn, it will try to balance calories-in versus calories-out by becoming more efficient resulting in a drop in your metabolism. This is not good when fat loss is the goal. Cheat days will trick the body into thinking it is getting enough calories (if not too many) and the body will then ignite its fat burning metabolism. This also works when paired with an intense workout aimed at a leaner body, as the extra intake of calories from the cheat day helps in maintaining a healthy balance of them.

“Last night was my cheat day I ate everything I saw from mithai to chips to pasta to pizza. What do you eat when u go out of control,” Varun tweeted to his fans.

Mentally, cheating is a great way to incorporate foods you would not normally eat. Nothing is ever off limits; there are just better times to eat certain foods.

“Taking away a person's favorite foods can be the death knell to a diet”, says David NW. Grotto, RD, LD, author of 101 Foods That Can Save Your Life. "I think splurging on a diet is mandatory, not an option," he says.

The trick is structured cheating, to acknowledge the guilty pleasure as a one-time-affair and to go about the meal with full consciousness, savoring it rather than garfing it down without allowing the senses to be satiated fully. The key is to maintain a control by knowing what you want and how much of it you want. However, for an overall control over cravings, it’s important to include foods in your diet that fill you up, or at least give the illusion of doing so such as lean meats, eggs, whole grains, soups, sea food, low fat dairy, etc. as these help tame your appetite. Stay fit, stay strong!

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