We all have cheat days; it’s a relief from a stringent eating plan. Veering off the path of healthy eating for a day or two (in moderation) is not the end of the world. Make it a habit, and you could end up in a cycle of unhealthy food choices. Those days of indulgence can leave your body reeling, And if you have been eating lots of sugar, a sudden spike in your blood sugar levels after half a tub of ice cream will leave you feeling emotional, bloated and demotivated.
The cure? Avoid cheat days altogether. Find ways to work healthy treats into your diet on a day to day basis, so you don’t end up binging.
But if the cheating bug bites, here are some useful ways to detox and get back on track:
1. Detox. Start the day with hot water topped with slices of lemon and fresh ginger. This tonic is soothing on the stomach, relieves indigestion and helps even out cravings for sweet and fatty foods. Follow up with a cup of green tea.
2. Drink, drink, drink. Fill up a large water bottle and sip on it throughout the day. Not only will it help your body recover from excessive salt and sugar intake, but the psychological effects of ‘flushing’ your digestive system can work wonders. If you struggle to drink water, try adding sliced cucumber, strawberries and mint for a hint of flavour.
3. Get moving. Go for a 20-minute walk or quick jog. Light exercises get blood pumping and speed up digestion. They also release feel-good endorphins. Better yet, try a yoga or Pilates class – these exercises are known to speed up digestion.
4. Don’t skip meals. Although fasting might seem the answer to your post-binge woes, skipping meals do more harm than good to your metabolism. So instead, eat small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going.
5. Avoid sugar at all costs. If your cheat day has sparked a craving, drink herbal tea sweetened with a sugar alternative such as Canderel Crunch granules with stevia or sucralose. These smart sweeteners have zero kilojoules and are low in carbohydrates. They’re also beneficial for managing high blood pressure.
6. Go green. Fill up on vegetables, fibre, vitamins and minerals to help your body recover and keep blood sugar level stable. Dark green veggies such as broccoli, spinach, kale and cabbage are your best choice.
7. Get spicy. Add natural anti-inflammatory herbs or spices like cinnamon, turmeric, sage, cloves, rosemary and cayenne to your meals for a week after your cheat day.
8. Treat your body with sleep. The most effective and natural way to recover from a bad day of eating is an early night and deep uninterrupted sleep. Exercise and a cup of hot chamomile or peppermint tea will help you fall into a deep, restoring slumber.
9. Plan ahead. Avoid another cheat day by planning your meals for the week ahead. Write down your exercise goals, and include a healthy, sugar-free eating plan. Stock up your fridge and pantry with the food you need to stay on track.