How to Cheat on Your Diet and Not Feel Guilty

How to Cheat on Your DietAarti Sequeira and Samantha Cassetty after indulging in some pizza on Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping.

As the resident nutritionist on Drop 5 Lbs, people tend to think that I eat healthfully 100 percent of the time, or that I don’t have a sweet tooth, let alone ever give in to one. But my friends and family can vouch for me: I give into my sweet tooth regularly — every day, in fact. But I keep my weight in check with a few simple strategies. Here’s how:

  1. Learn a few simple, healthy recipes that you can add to your weekly repertoire. As a working mom, I’m not one to start tackling a 20-ingredient recipe at the end of a long day, but I do have a few go-tos that are weeknight-easy, delicious (this is key) and happen to also be calorie-controlled. I keep coming back to these because they’re easy, tasty and filling. When I don’t feel hungry and deprived (and let’s face it, irritable and cranky), it’s easier to make good decisions about what to eat. Feeling satisfied means that it’s not a chore to keep my hands out of the potato chips during an episode of Downton Abbey.
  2. Be prepared. Just as it’s important to thwart hunger at home, it’s crucial to control it on the go. If you’re about to walk into a den of temptation (a food court or your niece’s birthday, for instance), have a filling snack first. Trust me, no one can resist the call of the cupcake when her stomach is screaming for food. But having a handful of nuts or a container of nonfat Greek yogurt on your way out the door will go a long way toward firming up your will power.
  3. Indulge within reason. I love chocolate. I eat it every day. Sometimes twice a day. But my daily indulgence almost always clocks in under 100 calories — for both servings. I savor a 25-calorie square of dark chocolate instead of a large 250-calorie bar. This mindful eating technique, corny as it sounds, really helps that small square keep my sweet tooth in check. I let the chocolate melt in my mouth and while it’s melting, I think about the flavor (rich, semisweet) and texture (smooth, creamy) so I get the most satisfaction out of the smallest bit. No one else can hear the conversation in your head so try taking a moment to pause and take pleasure in the food you’re eating. (This goes for meals too.)

No matter how hard you try to stay on track, slipups are part of the process. Wedding anniversaries, happy hours and that tray of doughnuts in the work pantry are all an inevitable part of life. On these occasions, try to redirect yourself back to your healthy eating path. We’re all familiar with that inner voice who beats us up when we’ve had a few extra spoonfuls of ice cream. So channel another voice. Become your own cheerleader. Or, one of my personal favorites, your own GPS. When I make the wrong turn, as I often do, my GPS never scolds me. Her voice never passes judgment, and she doesn’t tell me I’ll never find my way. Instead, she simply tells me to “recalculate” and directs me to the right road. So, if, after all your best intentions, you find yourself on a date with Ben & Jerry, remind yourself to recalculate and take the next turn.

This season on Drop 5 Lbs, Melissa, Aarti and I shared the strategies that worked for us. Now it’s your turn! Let me know what keeps you on track — or how you get back on the road when your journey takes you elsewhere.

Tune in to Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping every Saturday at 10:30am ET on Cooking Channel.

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As Nutrition Director of Good Housekeeping, Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian, covers nutrition news and trends, noteworthy products, weight loss and healthy eating advice for Good Housekeeping magazine as well as