If you’ve just searched for How To Survive A Keto Cheat day, I’m guessing you’ve done what we’ve all done from time to time; you’ve fallen off the keto wagon.
So now you’re wondering just how much damage you’ve done with your diet cheat day. How long will it take to get back into ketosis? Has your whole keto lifestyle just been sacrificed for that slice of apple pie?
Well, for a start, the good news is that you won’t have done any long term damage. A cheat is easier to pull back from than you may be thinking .
However, and it’s a big however, you do need to act fast.
What makes the fact you’ve cheated on your keto diet worse?
The danger after a cheat day isn’t that you’ve ruined your entire healthy living regime, you haven’t. The danger is that you’ll feel disheartened, and possibly very angry with yourself.
It’s these feelings of shame, which you shouldn’t be feeling, coupled with the thought that you’ve failed that is more often than not the reason why people often turn a cheat day into a cheat week or even a few cheat months.
Once negative feelings creep in it’s all too easy to feel such a failure that the thought of being strong enough to pull back from a cheat day seems impossible.
If you’re consumed with guilt about feeling weak-willed, you’re going to feel that you’re also too weak to get right back onto your keto wagon.
This is the real danger, and once we understand this, it’s possible to do something about it.
Further, remember that you’re not alone: We’ve all been there, I know I have.
One minute you’re cruising along congratulating yourself on really getting a handle on this whole keto thing, the next minute you’re face down in a slice of cake.
It’s really not a sign that you’re a weak-willed sub human. It’s a sign that you’re a normal human.
You’re person, just like the rest of us, who can be disciplined and determined most of the time, but liable to give in to temptation from time to time.
What tempted you to cheat on your keto diet?
Don’t waste time beating yourself up over your cheat.
Try spending time working out what tempted you to cheat in the first place; this is how to suvive a keto cheat day, and get right back on track.
Not only will this stop you spiraling down into diet busting negative thoughts, you will be taking something worthwhile away from your cheating experience: you’ll be getting to know how better to avoid cheating in the first place.
It seems there are some common cheat triggers that most people have learned are problematic for them. These include:
Boredom – this is the number one reason why people cheat. They’re bored: They find themselves with nothing to do except think about that packet of cookies in the back of the kitchen cupboard. Which brings me to the next trigger:
Off limit foods in the house – If you have a few goodies stacked away somewhere, sooner or later you’re going to find an excuse to eat them. The golden rule for off limit foods is to never buy them and never have them in the house. If your cupboards are already hiding a few treats, get strong and get rid of them. It’s better that they go straight in the trash than straight into your body. No, it’s not a waste of money; this is your health we’re talking about here.
Sadness and/or anxiety – this is a huge trigger for many people. You’ve just ended a relationship or maybe things are not good at work right now: it’s so tempting to sooth that hurting space inside with some food. Try to remind yourself that this would only be a short term solution. Within 10 seconds of eating your cheat food, you’ll be back to where you are right now. Plus you’ll now be feeling bad about going off your diet. Try to distract yourself, take a walk, do something, anything, that will keep you out of the kitchen. Sometimes even something as simple as drinking a glass of water can help. Read your favourite keto sites, remind yourself that you deserve all the health and weight loss benefits that the keto diet can give you.
Hunger – if you’re regularly finding yourself hungry you may have cut back too much on your overall daily intake. Try adding more fat to your diet, and increasing your portion sizes. The keto diet is not a calorie controlled diet. ( see here for why counting calories is a complete waste of time).
Carbohydrate Addiction – this is a real thing. If you think you may be addicted to sugar or any other carb you will need to take this addiction seriously. If you’re new to keto you will still be feeling the need to feed your habit. The keto diet will rid you of this addiction after a few weeks, but you will remain an addict. As a carb addict myself, I know that I cannot eat “just one” of any carb loaded treat. If I open a packet of cookies, I’ll eat them all. For me and any addict, the only way to go is to completely avoid the trigger foods altogether. Read here for more details about how to cope with a carb addiction.
Try to spend some time thinking about what your own personal triggers are. This is well worth doing; you’ll have learned a valuable lesson which will help you the next time you’re tempted to cheat.
How to survive a keto cheat day and get back on track with your keto diet
There are several things that you can do that will get you right back on track. The important thing is to start doing them right away.
Don’t wait a day or two. Preferably don’t even wait for an hour or two; notice that you’ve fallen off the keto diet, and do something about it right away.
When I say do something about it, I mean something constructive. This is the real trick, the thing that will stop your one-off cheat turning into a complete disaster for your entire keto lifestyle.
Focus on how to survive a keto cheat day; don’t focus on what is (or isn’t) wrong with you.
What shouldn’t you do after a cheat?
These are the things that you shouldn’t be doing after you’ve cheated. They won’t undo your cheat, they won’t change what happened. What they will do is make it harder for you to get back on track.
Don’t do them. Ever.
Deciding that now you’ve cheated you may as well go the whole nine yards. – Eaten a packet of cookies? Well, why not go right ahead and eat a cake and a tub of ice cream too. After all, your diet is ruined now, right? Wrong! Check your faulty thinking here; you’ve had a packet of cookies. That’s better than cookies plus cake plus ice cream. You’ve had your treat, take it as a sign you’re human and move on. No recriminations nor shame needed. Shrug it off, work out what your trigger was and determine to get better at dealing with it.
Giving yourself the big negative talk – Not too sure what the big negative talk is? It’s saying things such as “I’m weak willed”, “I’ll never be able to stick to a diet”, “I’m greedy” Sound familiar? I bet there’s a few more you could add too. Just don’t do this. There would have been a reason you cheated ( see above for some ideas) but they won’t have been any of these negative reasons. Do the work you need to do to find out what your trigger was.
Believing that your hunger a few hours after a cheat is real – This rebound hunger will be caused by a drop in your blood/glucose levels. You’re not really hungry (believe me here). You’re reacting to a surge- and then a big drop – in your blood sugar caused by too many carbohydrates. Try as best you can to ignore the feeling, and it will go away. Remind yourself that it’s not even possible that you’re hungry (in physical need of food) so soon after a cheat day, or even just a cheat snack.
Watch yourself for any form of keto-wrecking negative thinking. Be really tough with yourself here. If you’ve cheated, you’ve cheated. Move on.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not such a bad thing. You’re still going to be able to reach all your health and weight loss goals.
A cheat, even a big cheat will come to an end, and you can move forward. You should move forward: you ate a slice of pie, you didn’t commit a crime. Try to keep things in perspective.
Cheating on a diet is a human thing to do, a normal thing to do. It’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your commitment to your healthy keto lifestyle.
What should you do after a cheat?
You should accept that you’ve cheated. You ate the pie or whatever. You wanted something carby, and you went for it. That’s it, nothing more and nothing less.
You haven’t failed as a human being, you haven’t even failed as a keto dieter. You just went off your eating plan for a time.
Don’t beat yourself up, don’t feel that you need to throw in the towel. Don’t feel any amount of guilt or shame for being a normal person.
Read through what’s been said here: try to pinpoint your own personal triggers. You may well have some triggers that haven’t been mentioned here – feel free to mention them in the comments, which will be helpful for other people.
Understand that few of us, including me, ever stay 100% to a way of eating. Even when it’s as good for us as the keto diet.
The occasional cheat won’t be the thing that causes you the most difficulty.
Rather, the thing that will affect your weight loss and health goals is not accepting that you cheated and not getting right back to your diet.
That can’t be emphasized enough: learn the healthy art of moving on and you’ll be back on track in no time.
Finally, a note for those of you who want to build a controlled cheat into their keto diet: Read the keto cheat day for the best way to achieve this in a positive and controlled way.