Being fit and healthy requires a commitment. It is a lifestyle. Living it requires following to basic two guidelines: eat a clean diet and exercise regularly. Eating a clean diet is by far the more important of the guidelines. The reasoning behind that statement is simple: you can eat a clean diet, never exercise and be healthy. If you eat nothing but junk food, it will not matter how much exercise, you will not be healthy. You cannot outwork a poor diet.
A clean diet is pretty simple to follow: eat lean proteins, lots of fruits and vegetables (more vegetables than fruits) and add some raw nuts (almonds and walnuts are great choices) for healthy fats. Foods that should be avoided included any processed foods. If you read a packaging label and wonder what an ingredient is, put it back on the shelf. Sugars should be avoided as much as possible. A great way to shop in the grocery store is to stay on the outside and avoid the aisles. The aisles are where you will find the majority of the processed foods that you should avoid. This is a pretty simple breakdown of a clean diet, but if you follow it will see positive results.
While it is necessary to eat a clean diet the majority of the time, there is room for cheat meals. A cheat meal can be considered eating anything not included in the clean diet described above. An outing with friends is a great time to eat foods that you normally would not. Enjoy that pizza or dessert (or both!) with your friends. A great example is Super Bowl parties, which are right around the corner. You are sure to see great snacks and desserts. Do not deny yourself at such an occasion. Cheat meals at times like these are more fun because you are enjoying the atmosphere and camaraderie.
One thought process to avoid when deciding what to eat is the thought of “I worked out hard today so I can eat a piece of cake.” If you fall into this trap, then you will soon be splurging every time you work out and you will never see any benefits. The “reward” mindset is different from the idea of cheat meals in that you eat cheat meals as a part of a rare occasion.
In order to reap the rewards of your workouts, you need to eat a clean diet the majority of the time. However, do not be afraid to eat a cheat meal on occasion. When you do decide to eat a cheat meal, let loose and eat anything and everything you want. Once that meal is over, go back to your clean diet. Just make sure that your cheat meals are few and far between. Start with eating 1-2 cheat meals a week and see how that goes.