Your Guide to Enjoying an All You Can Eat Cheat Day Without Feeling Guilty

Your Guide to Enjoying an All You Can Eat Cheat Day Without Feeling Guilty

When it comes to healthy eating, sometimes the best approach involves breaking a few rules. The concept of “cheat days” has gained traction over the years among people who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle or follow a certain diet.

The first rule for incorporating cheat days is to not think of them as cheating. Instead, see them as a well-deserved meal you can enjoy guilt-free.

Research indicates that your metabolism gets a boost following a cheat day, leading to faster calorie burning. This is due to increased levels of leptin, which regulates energy balance. After consuming a larger-than-usual meal, leptin production can spike by up to 30 percent for the next 24 hours.

Now if you are on a strict low-calorie diet, a cheat meal is recommended by psychologists and nutritionists to help you maintain healthier eating habits throughout the week by preventing unplanned, binge-inducing meals that are harder to recover from.

Jim Stoppani, a renowned expert in exercise science, sport nutrition, and supplementation, advocates for at least one cheat meal per week. He states:

I highly recommend at least one cheat meal per week, mainly for the sake of your own sanity. You can’t go too long avoiding foods you crave without having a massive cheat attack or, even worse, falling off the diet completely. Any diet that restricts too many types of foods, especially the ones you crave the most, is a recipe for failure. A diet MUST be realistic for the person following it—and never being able to enjoy your favorite foods on a diet is NOT realistic.”

Golden Rules for Eating at a Buffet

Before you head to Golden Corral, take note of these healthy eating strategies:

Check your options before filling your plate

Before you start piling your plate, take a walk around the buffet to see all your options. Based on my experience, the best items are tucked away at the end of the line like the Prime Rib or the Carving Station. So don’t be in a hurry to fill your plate. Instead, look around and see which items are worth the calories.

Remember the 2-tablespoon rule

You’ll likely encounter many high-calorie temptations at the buffet so you have to have a rule and stick to it. With the 2-tablespoon rule, you just pick 3 or 4 of your favorites and take only 2 tablespoons of each. This way, you can taste a variety of foods without overindulging.

Watch out for oil

Steamed veggies might seem like a healthy choice, but they’re sometimes tossed in oil to keep them looking fresh. Keep in mind that a tablespoon of oil has 120 calories, and there’s usually more than one tablespoon in a serving. To be on the safe side, choose vegetables that don’t look shiny.

Savor every bite

Many people at buffets tend to shovel food into their mouths quickly, don’t do this. Instead of rushing through your meal, slow down and enjoy your food so you can fully experience the flavors and textures of each dish. Not only will you appreciate your meal more but you’ll also likely consume less calories than if you rush.

Choose low calorie drinks

It’s easy to drink a lot of calories at a buffet. Some buffets offer beer and I think all buffets have soda. Stick to low- or no-calorie drinks like water, seltzer, fresh brewed iced tea, or coffee. If you should choose an alcoholic drink, go for a glass of wine rather than pints of beer or a high-calorie cocktail.

Be strategic about your choices

Start with a plate of produce and healthy proteins before moving on to grains and sweets. Protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, and seafood are not only often the most expensive but these items also help you feel full.

Be selective with desserts

Buffet desserts are often small but can be jam-packed with fat and sugar. Resist the urge to try them all. You can choose a small portion of frozen yogurt or fresh fruit if you need something sweet. If you want to indulge a bit, then a small slice of carrot cake at Golden Corral’s Endless Buffet might be a better choice than the banana pudding.

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