If you've ever been on a diet, you are probably familiar with the concept of the "cheat day." This is the one day a week when you can eat whatever you want, without worrying about sticking to your diet. However, going too crazy on a cheat day can erase all the hard work you put in during the week. If you'd still like to have a cheat day, but keep it healthy, give these eight options a try.
Falafel is a vegetarian option that tastes indulgent without being bad for you. For the healthiest option, go for a version that is baked instead of fried. Choose a whole-wheat pita, bed of vegetables, hummus or brown rice to accompany it. If you are enjoying it in a sandwich, add plenty of fresh veggies and go light on the cheese and sauce.
- Whole Wheat Vegetable Pizza
People typically think of pizza as being junk food, but it doesn't have to be. Choose a whole wheat crust and vegetable toppings instead of refined flour crusts and greasy meats. Or, you can try a vegetable crust, such as cauliflower. To cut down on calories, choose a thin crust over a thick one. Go light on the cheese or omit it altogether to cut fat and calories.
- Protein Shake
If you have been craving a milkshake, but don't want all the fat, sugar and calories of a regular milkshake, consider having a protein shake. You can purchase premade shakes or make your own with protein powder.
There are lots of different flavors available, from standards such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla to more adventurous flavors such as coffee and salted caramel. You can further reduce fat and calories by using non-dairy milk as the base.
If you love pasta, but don't love all the empty calories, consider giving zoodles a try. Zoodles are zucchini that have been sliced into thin strips that resemble noodles. They provide some of the texture of regular noodles but have more nutritional value and fewer calories. You can make these at home using a spiralizer or purchase them pre-cut at the grocery store. Zoodles can be used in pretty much any pasta dish you like.
- Veggie Chips
Potato chips are another junk food most people try to avoid when dieting. If you'd like to indulge in a healthier alternative on your cheat day, consider veggie chips. You can purchase these pre-made at the grocery or make your own using kale, zucchini, seaweed or another vegetable you like that can be sliced thin and fried or baked to get a crispy texture.
Add a bit of salt or other seasonings to get some extra flavor. If you'd prefer to stick to potatoes, you can make your chips healthier by baking them instead of frying them.
Fonuts are a vegan version of traditional donuts that are baked instead of fried and gluten-free. These donuts have all of the flavors of a traditional donut but contain much healthier ingredients.
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Cake is usually a very indulgent food, but you can make this dessert staple healthier by using gluten-free flour and substituting honey for sugar. Add some chocolate protein powder to give your cake some additional nutritional value.
You don't have to wait for a cheat day to eat fruit, but if you've been craving something sweet and healthy, fruit can really hit the spot. Try macerating some strawberries in balsamic vinegar and a bit of sugar. Make some banana ice cream. Turn your watermelon into a frozen gremolata. There are lots of tasty and healthy options.
A cheat day can be a good way to avoid dieting burnout by occasionally taking a break from your diet. Keeping your cheat day options healthy allows you to get the benefits of taking a diet break, without risking blowing all the hard work you put in the rest of the week.
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Lewis Robinson is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. When he isn’t writing he can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.