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Don't Cheat On Your Diet! -- Medical Minute #30

Don’t Cheat on your Diet

Hi. I’m Dr. Craig Primack from Scottsdale Weight Loss Center. Today’s Medical Minute is very importantly titled Don’t Cheat on Your Diet. When you first hear me say that, I think most people think I’m going to be very strict. “Don’t ever deviate from this very strict plan that you have.” That’s actually not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying we’re going to take the word cheat actually out of your diet vocabulary.

You can either eat on your plan or you eat off your plan. Some people say, “We had a dietary deviation.” I don’t like the word cheat. If you go back to when you were in school and you cheated on a test, you got in trouble. You got in trouble from your parents. You got in trouble maybe from the principal or your teacher. But you surely got in trouble from someone.

If you deviate or eat off the plan of your diet, I am surely not going to yell at you. Unfortunately, what I do know is that you’ve actually probably yelled at yourself, and we’re unfortunately also very good at making ourselves feel lousy. When we hold ourselves too strict, too accountable, when we have that guilt regarding diets, it’s actually been shown to be negative against successful weight loss. So not a good thing.

Planned and Unplanned Diet Deviations

So when we start to talk about diets and adhering to diets, I think you either adhere to your diet, and if you do decide to go off your diet, we either have it planned or unplanned. So for me, if it’s … Well, let’s start with planned. If you plan to go off your diet, and I’ll tell you next week is my birthday. I will have a nice-sized piece of birthday cake on my birthday. Birthday cake used to be one of my favorite foods in the world. I’d tell you it was the thing when you said, “What’s the last thing you ever want to eat?” I would have said it’s birthday cake until I can’t eat it anymore.

Luckily, I have broken that habit, but I will still have a piece of cake on my birthday, even though it’s not officially on my normal diet. So that being said, it’s a preplanned, premeditated plan that I’m going to do that. That is perfectly fine, and you should never feel guilty about doing that, because you planned it.

Have a Diet Plan

Then there’s the times where you say you’re going out to dinner with a couple of friends, and you’re going to a place that you can either eat something healthy or you’re going to have a big, greasy cheeseburger and a full order of fries. Even though that would be an unplanned, because you planned to eat healthy that time, when you eat off your plan, again, it wasn’t planned, and your next meal should just be, “Okay.” Well, first accept it happened. It may happen again. Don’t beat yourself up, and your next meal, just get right back on your diet plan. That is as close to cheating, that cheeseburger and full order fries, as close to cheating as possible, but I still don’t want to use the word cheat. Maybe deviate, maybe eat off the plan. One of those words I think is much more kind to ourselves.

Be a Weight Manager

In the end of the day, when we diet, we have to be kind to ourselves. That’s what being healthy is. It’s making our body, our mind, and our whole persona healthier. Talking nicely to ourselves, not beating ourselves up when we deviate or eat off the plan is important. The way to long-term success is occasionally you do eat things that aren’t on your strict diet plan. You do it in a preconceived, controlled manner so that it isn’t happening every day, and, at the end of the day, if you’re able to, you are still achieving the goals that you want to. That’s life. That’s long-term dieting success.

It’s what makes you a weight manager instead of just a dieter, being able to plan and preplan and find times and ways that you can eat some of the foods you like some of the time, not all the time, but some of the time.

I’ll leave you with one more concept. I think every diet has a frequency and a quantity of foods. If someone says to me, “You know what? Every day, at the end of the day, I want some chocolate,” well, number one is it dark chocolate versus milk chocolate? Let’s just say it’s dark chocolate, and you have a little square of dark chocolate. That 50 calories or so probably is not going to ruin anybody’s diet. If you did that every day because it’s the thing that makes life worth living to you, then do it.

Chocolate on your Diet?

But if you said to me, “I have to have chocolate every day. I’m going to have a bar of chocolate every day, maybe 600 calories, maybe 700 or 800 calories, and I need to have that every day,” that’s too often. If you said, “I needed that bar once a month and I planned for it. I kept on my diet for the five to ten days before I’m going to have that bar once a month,” I’m going to say, “Okay, do it. But let’s try to keep it to only once a month or at a frequency that’s going to work for you.”

So at the end of the day, you don’t cheat on a diet. You sometimes deviate from your diet. You sometimes eat off your plan. But let’s take the word cheating out of our vocabulary.


Thanks for being here. Today was Medical Minute number 30. Hope you’ve enjoyed many of these. If there are Medical Minutes or other things you want to hear, please send me a message through our website, Thank you very much. Bye-bye. See you next week.


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