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8 Ways Not to Cheat on a Diet

We've all done it. Sneaked an extra piece of cake when nobody was looking. Nobody, that is, except the cat, and who was he going to tell? Or we might say that we're running out of the office for a minute to pick up something from the drug store, or the newspaper stand, or the ... Oh! heck, what does it matter? And instead we go to the new candy shop down the street.

Some call it "cheating." Sneaking. Closet eating. But one of the reasons dieters "cheat" is that they're often so strict with themselves that they end up feeling deprived.

Remember that healthy eating includes lots of "good" choices with a few "naughty" ones as well. Devising some strategies to help you enjoy treats rather than "cheat" will help keep you on the straight and narrow. Here are some suggestions to try:

1. Plan for treats. Making sure you enjoy your favorite treats every once in a while will help you from feeling deprived. Pick a night each week when you can indulge in something decadent like a piece of chocolate mud cake. Give yourself permission to truly enjoy your dessert! Taking time to savor a treat is always more satisfying than gobbling it down with feelings of guilt or shame.

2. Put your pantry on a diet. If most of the foods that enter your house are healthy, then the battle is almost won. If you must have tempting foods around for a special occasion, store them out of sight or buy them at the last minute. On the big day, enjoy your favorite foods and send any leftovers home with your guests.

3. Choose your friends wisely. Beware of any "friend" who continually tries to coerce you into "just a cappuccino" - which you know really means a cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake with frosting an inch thick. Put these friends on hold until you're feeling strong enough to say "no." Or suggest a different kind of get-together, such as a walk in the park or an afternoon at the movies.

4. Count the cost as well as the calories. Allocate so many dollars per pound you plan to lose and save the money in a separate account or piggy bank. Or "pay" yourself so much every day you stick to your weight-loss plan. Then treat yourself to something fabulous like a new outfit or a day at a beauty spa.

5. Picture yourself. Find some not-so-flattering photos of yourself and place them strategically at prime temptation spots - the fridge, the cookie jar, or in your desk drawer. That way you will be reminded of the positive changes you're trying to make to your life whenever you're tempted to overindulge.

6. Surround yourself with witnesses. Tell everyone you are changing your eating habits. Give them permission to remind you of your dedication to better health if they catch you transgressing. Make sure you have chosen friends who will support and encourage you. The last thing you need is someone who will try to trip you up.

7. Check up on yourself. Keep a food journal where you write down every single thing that passes your lips each day. If you often eat when you're upset or stressed, try to record this too. If you gobbled up a candy bar after arguing with your partner, you probably need to find alternative ways of coping with your moods. Next time try phoning a friend or going for a stress-relieving walk.

8. Keep a sense of proportion. We all slip up from time to time. We all forget our best resolutions and bend the rules. It's not the end of the world. The worst thing you can do is give in and say "Well, I blew it. Let's forget it. I'm never going to succeed."

Now, that would really be cheating. Not just cheating on your diet, but cheating on yourself and your health as well.
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