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Like it or not, we’re all human. No matter how much self-discipline we have or how strong our willpower is, there will come a time when we want Peanut M&Ms real bad. Guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that – and I encourage you to go ahead and enjoy them mindfully!

Does that advice sound counter-intuitive to everything you’ve heard about losing weight or healthy living? Let me explain.

Let’s say you’ve been great for 12 days. You’ve been exercising and eating well and you feel amazing! All of a sudden, the Halloween candy is right in front of your face, and because you’ve deprived yourself of everything on the “forbidden foods list” (and I hate calling it that because nothing should be “forbidden,” but that’s a topic for another day!), you dive into that jack-o-lantern of treats.

It felt good in the moment, but not too long afterward, you find yourself trapped in a cycle of food guilt. You think things like, “I’m a failure, I ate 20 pieces of candy, I’m going to be fat forever, and I can’t do this.”

Yikes! Now you’re on a downward spiral that is difficult to escape.

Plan For It

Like I said, we’re all human. Knowing that at some point we will all crave something from the not-so-healthy list, let’s plan for it.

There are so many fitness experts on board with this idea. Jillian Michaels, Jackie Warner, Dolvett Quince and Tony Horton have all come out in support of some variation of these “cheat” meals. That’s because this strategy works – whether you want to lose 20 lbs. or 500 lbs.

Choose Your Plan

I don’t use the word cheat because my healthy diet is my plan, my way.  There’s no cheating when I write my own diet rules!  I call these treats! Also known as planned indulgences.

There are a couple options for your treat strategy: You can have a daily 100-calorie treat (which might be a few pieces of dark chocolate or a few French fries), or you can schedule two treats during the week.

Now, when I say treats, I don’t mean a full-on binge (4 boxes of Thin Mints is not a “meal”). Portion size is key. But if you want to go out on a Wednesday night and have a great steak and a glass of wine after enjoying healthy food all day, please do it!

At the beginning of the week, choose your strategy and stick with the plan. You’ll thank yourself afterward.

Avoid Trigger Foods – At First

When you’re planning your treats, it could be tempting to treat yourself to the one food that you crave the most.

However, if you know that after your get a whiff of cookies you will be an unstoppable Cookie Monster, choose something else. I recommend a food that you know will give you pleasure but isn’t a trigger for you. After some practice, you may be ready to integrate your trigger food into your treat strategy, but make sure you’re ready first.

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