Thinking about getting on the Cheat Day bandwagon? Hooray! I look forward to you joining my little club! You may have read the ‘rules’ already in Part 1 of my Cheat Day Explanation, if not, head over to that post and start there first, then come back and join me here.
Monday thru Saturday you’re going to dream of cake, burgers, and treats but you sure as heck aren’t going to be eating any of that. Do we have that clear? Good.
So what should you be eating on those six days? Let’s take a look at my meal planner I’ve whipped up for you…
Vegetable juice. If you have a juicer, fantastic! Wash and prep your ingredients the evening before as it can be a little time consuming to make a juice when you’re in a rush on a weekday morning. My two juice combo’s that I make consist of either carrots, one apple and a 1 inch piece of ginger, or alternatively those three ingredients plus a large handful of spinach and 1 fresh beetroot.
Protein shake. I’m sure many of you have tried protein shakes at one point or another, and then there will be some of you that have never tasted one before. They are delicious if you purchase the right product, super high in protein (hence the name!) and will keep you surprisingly full for a long time. If I’m having a protein shake, I mix one scoop of protein, with 250 ml of almond milk (you can use regular or soya milk too, but make sure you used skimmed if going down the dairy route) and 250 ml of water. I always choose chocolate flavoured protein powder, and you can even find flavour drops to add to your shake, I have all sorts of flavours – raspberry, mint, toffee – yum! I buy this protein powder, but just make sure you choose one that is very low carb, as we aren’t looking to bulk from the shakes!
Eggs. If you have time in the morning to eat eggs, then that is a great start to your day. Scramble two using water and not milk, go for hard boiled or poached, just not fried, or try and egg white omelette. You could add spinach, tomato and a slice of avocado to this.
Porridge. I recommend using 25g of oats, adding just enough water to cover them in a bowl and microwaving for 2 minutes. If you’re not a microwave fan, just cook them in a pot. Once they cooked, add some plain fat free or Greek yoghurt, some frozen berries and a squirt of agave syrup or honey. Note: I do not recommend eating this everyday, but it is a great breakfast a couple of times per week and particularly after exercising, if you work out first thing in the morning.
Popcorn. My mid morning snack every day at work! If you can get your hands on low calorie popcorn packs, go for those. Or if you fancy air popping your own, I just purchased this great little container, that air pops your popcorn in the microwave. Once popped, squirt with some low calorie spray and add a very small sprinkling of salt, or even cinnamon for sweet popcorn, or paprika to spice it up. Do not make popcorn in a pot with butter or oil, it defeats the whole purpose of it being a healthy snack. If you search on Google you will find loads of simple ways to air pop popcorn in your microwave.
Hummus & crudites. In case you’re not a popcorn fan, my alternative suggestion would be a couple of tablespoons of hummus, and some chopped carrots or cucumber.
Chicken & veg. Chicken breasts are loaded with protein and the perfect base to your lunchtime meal. Add some stir fried kale, a side salad, or any other green vegetable you like. The most time efficient way to enjoy this, is to cook it the evening before. If you’re not a fan of chicken, or you’re like me and apparently intolerant to chicken, (Yep! more on that later), go for turkey instead.
Salmon & salad. A perfect high protein lunch, that can be cooked the night before. As above with the chicken, go for a leafy green salad or any other green vegetable you prefer. Tomatoes, avocado (no more than half of one), pumpkin/sesame seeds, peppers, cucumber…. all these can be added to the meal. Switch up salmon for tuna if you prefer, unless, again you’re like me and apparently intolerant to tuna, (Yep! I know, I can’t believe the ridiculousness either).
Soup. Sometimes there just isn’t time to prep a meal for lunch. Soup is a good alternative, but be very careful which one you choose. No creamy tomato for instance! My default flavours is usually butternut squash or carrot and coriander. If you’re purchasing a pot from the supermarket, read the label carefully! So many sneaky ingredients are often added, cream being a biggie. I try to choose something low calorie, for instance today’s soup is a 350g pouch and totals 127 calories, but anything around the 200 calorie mark is fine!
Turkey lettuce wraps. Another quick lunch dish that can be made ahead of time are turkey lettuce wraps. I purchase sliced turkey breast, and romaine lettuce and literally roll the turkey breast up inside a lettuce leaf. To give it some flavour, I may add some small slices of avocado, some cherry tomatoes, and even hot sauce.
A piece of fruit. I always have an apple or a nectarine with my lunch, but choose your favourite as an afternoon lunch sweet snack.
Protein Balls. I love sweet things, especially in the afternoon, so my best way around this is to make some protein balls in the weekend, so I may have 2 each afternoon to satisfy my sweet tooth. If you Google search homemade protein balls/bliss balls/raw truffles, you’ll find loads of recipes, and most will use nuts and dates as a base. I always add a couple of scoops of chocolate protein to my ingredients.
Protein Shake. A good afternoon snack, just mix a scoop of your favourite protein with 250 ml milk and 250 ml water.
Almond butter & Ryvita. Two teaspoons of almond butter spread over a couple of Ryvita or similar healthy cracker should stop the hunger cravings and is super delicious too. You can purchase almond butter in supermarkets and health food stores, or find instructions online how to make your own.
Chicken or Salmon. I always bake my chicken breasts and salmon fillets. 180°c and 20 minutes for the salmon (wrap it in aluminium foil) and 190°c and 30 minutes for the chicken (cook in a baking paper lined tray).
Stir fried Kale. I use low calorie spray in a frying pan, heating it and stir frying two crushed garlic cloves with a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes. I add a packet of kale and stir fry until it is soft. Often I eat like that, or sometimes I add some chopped fresh beetroot, a few slices of avocado and a handful of pistachio nuts.
Pho. This Vietnamese soup dish is low calorie and soooo tasty! Add chicken, or turkey breast and switch out the noodles for bean sprouts. You’ll find loads of recipes online.
Mexican Salad. Easy to prep, season chicken or turkey breast with your favourite spices such as paprika, cumin and chipotle or alternatively purchase a pre made packet mix, then bake in the oven. Chop up a crunchy lettuce, add chopped tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, peppers, coriander and a squeeze of lime. You could make some chunky avocado salsa to go with this, and I love to add hot sauce and low calorie yoghurt on top. You can add a small handful of low fat grated cheddar too if you like.
Turkey burgers. Season some minced turkey breast with a tsp of worcestershire sauce, a tsp of soya sauce, 1 crushed garlic clove and your favourite spices such as paprika or chilli powder to give it some kick. I’m a hot sauce fan, so I always add a little bit of that too. If you have a George Foreman grill, perfect, cook the patties on that, or grill them in the oven. I never add a burger bun, but instead I top the burger with a slice of beef tomato, lettuce, beetroot (I’m a kiwi, we like beetroot on our burgers okay!), avocado and add a rocket salad as a side dish.
Green vegetables. I love roasted broccoli, asparagus, or green beans. Eat your favourite and don’t be shy on the portion size!
After Dinner Treat
Plain yoghurt & agave syrup. If I feel like I need something after dinner, which to be honest is pretty much every night! I opt for plain fat free or Greek yoghurt with a squirt of agave syrup on top. Don’t go for flavoured yoghurts, they have sugar in them even if the label does say low fat.
Fresh fruit. Some chopped strawberries, or pineapple, pomegranate seeds or mango (which I can no longer eat, yep you guessed it, intolerant!). These are a great after dinner snack, but don’t eat too much, and choose your after-dinner fruit wisely. I wouldn’t recommend grapes for instance, I love them, but they are high in fruit sugars. The best option is berries, particularly blueberries.
Protein ball. Often I want something that feels more like dessert, and the protein balls I mentioned earlier do the trick for me, one or two at the very most, and I’m satisfied.
Lemon water. Every single morning the first thing I drink is half a lemon squeezed into a large glass of warm water. I love it, but don’t try it with cold water, because it’s not too tasty then! The warm water also helps aid digestion. I then go to the gym, but if your morning routine doesn’t involve exercise, then wait half an hour before eating or drinking anything else, to give the lemon water time to do its thing.
Coffee. I have a coffee every morning. Usually a take-out en route home from the gym. Always a skinny or almond milk latte, with absolutely no sugar added. I am not one of those people that says ‘Caffeine is Bad!’, it certainly is if you’re having 3 or more coffees a day. But I have one, two tops!
Water. This is the only liquid I consume apart from the lemon water, coffee and veg juice. My preference is sparkling water, but I make sure I drink around 1 litre of still water per day too. I no longer drink low calorie soda’s, preferring to keep away from the chemicals in them.
I don’t drink alcohol. I know, I am one of those annoying people that doesn’t drink alcohol, so I don’t have those calories to worry about. Regardless of whether red wine is good for you, avoid the alcohol during the week, because let’s face it, you’re doing yourself no favours when it comes to committing to a healthy diet plan.
Tea. I can’t even stand the smell of it. But by all means, as with coffee above, allow yourself some tea if you like it, just don’t add sugar.
A Few Things to Mention
Don’t give in to temptation. For the first fortnight, do not let yourself give in to even once tiny speck of temptation. You will feel like climbing the walls more than a few times, I certainly felt that way! I was so used to having a little treat here and there, but when I first started out with my Cheat Day diet I stuck to it religiously for the first few weeks, focusing on the Sunday ahead and exactly what I was going to treat myself to. That certainly helps, but you’ll have cravings and withdrawals, just don’t give in to them.
I’m not perfect. Often we compare ourselves to others, and feel like we aren’t good enough/aren’t trying hard enough etc etc. Please read this and do not forget, I have FAILED and I have succumbed to a piece of chocolate or some sweets when it wasn’t a Cheat Day. I make sure this doesn’t happen often, but we are only human and sometimes we lose our A Game!
Do Not Beat Yourself Up. And I’m not talking in a physical sense, cause that would just be weird and awkward. But if you do fall off the bandwagon and find yourself sneaking a square of chocolate, do not spend the rest of the day with a cloud of guilt over your head. You’ve done it, you ate it, now move on and try your best to resist the next time.
Don’t Give Up. I used to be so guilty of this, particularly in my twenties. That mind set, where you’re eating good food, then you fall off the bandwagon, have some cake and think ‘Well I’ve completely and utterly failed, so I may as well enjoy the rest of the day eating calorie laden junk food because what does it matter now?!’. No!! No. No. No. You’ve fallen off the bandwagon, okay fine. It takes ONE SECOND to get back on it, and accept you had a moment of bad judgement. This is not the time to stuff your face with more sugar and fat. You will just feel worse in the end.
You will feel Guilty. The first month or two after a Cheat Day, you will most likely experience feelings of guilt. You’ve eaten so well all week, then come Sunday you have stuffed your face with pizza, burgers, ice cream or whatever your heart desires. Come Monday, you’ll have an attack of the guilts. Be prepared for it and accept it. But know that in time, when you realise you’re not gaining weight from this day or pure indulgence, you’ll learn to relax and enjoy it.
You’ll overeat. It is more than likely that come Cheat Day, you’ll overindulge. I’ve sworn and declared many times, that next Cheat Day I won’t eat so much, until next Cheat Day came around and I again overindulged. Try your best not to eat until you pop. Enjoy your meals, but don’t stuff yourself. You’ll feel miserable on Monday morning if you do.
You will not achieve your goals overnight. You won’t even achieve them in a couple of weeks. You might start to notice a difference a few weeks in, or maybe not until a month or two in. Do not over think this. Do not even worry about it. Just keep going.
Sometimes you just have to eat junk food. Make this an exception and not a rule, but sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where there might be a birthday celebration, a special dinner or similar and it’s a Thursday night and you’re faced with bad food choices and no alternative but to eat it. So, the best thing to do? If there really is no healthy choice option, just eat it, and move on. Just make sure this happens once in a blue moon, not every couple of weeks.
Finally I want to add, that often on a Monday, I eat very lightly. Mostly because I still feel full from the day before. If you are hungry, eat, if you’re not that hungry, have some light and healthy snacks until you fancy a meal.
At the moment, I also do not eat breakfast. I am telling you this only so I am completely honest about my meals! However, I have eaten breakfast for the majority of the time since I started the Cheat Day diet, and I still lost some weight and looked healthier. I’m going through a moment of figuring out exactly what my body is intolerant to, and the list is large, so for now I have my lemon water, and a coffee in the morning, and my first snack at around 11 am. (If you’re a gym junkie, you will likely have heard of Intermittent Fasting, this is not what I’m consciously doing, but I know skipping breakfast certainly doesn’t hurt my training contrary to popular belief).
I exercise 4 -5 days per week, always in the morning, which I believe has helped as opposed to training in the evening. My body’s metabolism gets a kick start soon after I’m awake, and burns for the rest of the day thanks to training first thing. Exercise helps with our body goals, there is no doubt about it. The right type of exercise is key. I’m not a fan of long distance, slow running. For my goals, it is a complete waste of time. You can see how I prefer to train in the post here.
If you don’t exercise, don’t think for a second that dieting alone is pointless. Always remember, 80% of how your body looks is down to what you eat. The other 20% is through exercise. So concentrate on eating the right foods. If your lack of exercise is due to limited time, then take a look on YouTube at some Tabata training videos, and circuit training videos. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in 10 minutes, in the privacy of your own home.
My biggest piece of advice here and the most important thing I have learnt over the past year, is to remain consistent. I cannot stress how key this is to succeeding in anything really! Some days I go to the gym and I feel great, other days I feel frumpy. What I do know, is that I cannot expect a speedy miracle. Sure you can go on a hectic diet and lose a tonne of weight in a couple of weeks, I’ve done it many times. But we all know that weight creeps back, because it’s too much of a quick-fix and not something you can maintain. Do not obsess over your weight, and your goals. My goals are usually made in blocks of 3 months. For instance, I made the commitment in December to do interval training twice per week until the end of March and then reassess how I felt about myself then. During that time, my weight changed every week, moving slightly up or down, some days the interval training felt easy, other days it felt really hard. But I didn’t obsess over it all, I just kept going. Long term, consistent goals people, make some, and don’t obsess.
Lastly, get some sleep. Mums with babies, I know this is easier said than done! Just get as much as you possibly can. Lack of sleep is your own worst enemy when it comes to cravings and sticking to goals. However, knowing tiredness can be the cause of you making bad food choices is enough knowledge to hopefully make you think twice and not give in to temptation.
So that’s it, in a nutshell, what I eat on a Cheat Day! I hope that helps any of you that have been asking and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and how you get on! x