I think one of the biggest reasons why people who are following a specific diet don’t maintain it is because of the strict rules that are placed on how, what, and when you eat. Whether it’s counting calories, counting points, or avoiding certain foods, it can be very difficult to maintain while trying to live a normal life. It would be easy for me to avoid non-Paleo foods if I had an allergy to them, but I don’t so staying away from them can be difficult at times.

Like I said in an earlier post, the first two weeks of my Paleo experience was full of cravings. I wanted just about everything I couldn’t have, and I wanted lots of it. That has since passed, but there are times when I cheat. I think there are some very good benefits to cheating, if it is done the right way, and there can be some drawbacks if don’t the wrong way. First, allowing yourself the ability to cheat means you can go out to dinner with friends to a restaurant that may not be exactly “paleo friendly” and eat to be satiated. This obviously doesn’t mean you should have all-you-can-eat pasta and breadsticks and ice cream, although that does sound kind of good sometimes. You don’t have to get the worst thing on the menu! Most restaurants have items on their menu that are mainly Paleo, with maybe a side that is not. Go for one of those instead.

Another reason to cheat is so you don’t cheat more often. A number of my friends have cheat days, mostly Sundays for some reason, where they allow themselves to eat whatever they want. Granted, most of the time their meals are more Paleo than not, they will still have whatever sounds good. Scheduling a day, or even just a meal, like this gives you something to look forward to. If you know, for example, that Sunday’s dinner is the meal you are allowed to get whatever you want, you’ll be less likely to cheat other times during the week. A good way to make the cheat meal even better for you is to decide ahead of time what it is that you’re going to have ahead of time, and stick with that plan.

So go ahead, cheat! But do it in a way that doesn’t throw all your hard work out the window. Do it in a way that makes sticking to Paleo, or whatever diet you are following, manageable. Make a plan and stick to it! Consider your cheat meal as a reward for all the hard work you do to maintain your diet throughout the rest of the week.

Do you have a specific cheat meal or plan? Share it below, you never know who may have an idea you like or whose idea may work for you.