One of the most frequently asked questions on this site is: How do you cheat on your diet?
First off, let’s get a few things straight…
You don’t want to cheat on your diet, right?
I mean the whole reason you’re embarking on this journey is to rock-out your health and whittle down your weight!
You want everything to go smoothly. You want it not to be hard.
You want all the people, places, and things in your life to be “on board,” invested, literally coalescing around your mission of being the best-possible version of yourself that you can be!
I’m with you! That’s exactly how it should be!
But you know, and I know, it’s a cold, hard world out there. Especially when you’re on a diet.
It’s time to face the fact that you’re pretty much a lone wolf.
Sure, maybe you’ve recruited a bestie on board. Yeah, you might even have armed yourself with the My Fitness Pal app… but at the end of the day, every situation, every decision boils down to just you.
And willpower is a game of momentum my friends.
You’re on your own, surrounded by a wicked forest of food porn, sabotage, holidays, family gatherings, vacations, diabolical co-workers and that says nothing of the inner-turmoil of your own mind:
“I’m not going to have a doughnut. But Linda brought them in special today for the whole office to share–we can’t let Linda down! No, I’m just not doing it. But it’s Friyay–everyone is allowed to cut lose on Friyay! Nope, I’m good. C’mon, you’ve already done this diet for a whole week already, you deserve a treat! NO! Shut the !@$# up!”
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say you’ve dealt with that inner voice before too.
Here’s the bottom line:
The way you think about and manage “cheating” on your diet is going to give you tremendous success or lead you to a merry-go-round of starting and stopping that will essentially get you no where.
Luckily, for you, I’ve got something (free & printable) that is going to help you manage cheating, no matter what diet, plan, lifestyle, movement or food religion you’ve decided to embark on!
You’re going to figure it all out in these 4 parts:
- you are your habits
- how to stay on track using your monthly monitor–get your free printable tool here!
- learn what type of “cheater” you are –there are 4 kinds!
- how to manage slip-ups on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan
Alright, let’s do this! Let’s plunge right in and find out the number one key to dieting success…
Think Habit Over Diet
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?
Diets are over. Diets are passè, blasè, totally 90s, forget about them!
Oh, and by the way, diets don’t work.
I think we can all agree that when we talk about “diets” here we’re really talking about lifestyles–the way we want to eat for the rest of our lives. Weather it be paleo, gluten-free, whole-foods plant-based, vegan, nutritarian or anything else, we aren’t looking to do this temporarily.
So, how do you go from the ultimate Coke-guzzling, pizza-inhaling, doughnut-dunking Standard-American-Diet-hero to the healthy lifestyle of your dreams?
Guess what? You are your habits.
If you’re overweight, tired all the time, crabby, and pessimistic about ever being able to change, then I bet there are a set of habits that are propping up your life and the crappy way you feel.
You need to ask yourself this very important question:
What do you want your habits to be?
For me, there are 3 things: (1) I want to be in control of my eating by following Dr. Fuhrman’s plan at least 95% of my meals (more on that to come), (2) I want to be physically active daily, and (3) I want to do something creative daily.
Habits are the things we do every single day, our default–they almost feel automatic.
And therein lies your problem and your very solution.
You are going to have to stop momentum on your current habits and do the hard work to push uphill against those toxic habits until you can form new healthful ones.
To quote a beloved, furry, green Jedi knight: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”
Sounds a little daunting doesn’t it?
I mean where do you even begin?
Visualize Your Eating
Welcome to your solution!
This simple little monthly calendar, when used correctly, is going to help you build the habits you want and manage those times you cheat!
Stop right now to download and print this out: Monthly Nutritarian Lifestyle Monitor
The concept is simple:
Each meal represents an empty circle. You color-in each circle based on what you eat.
Green means you ate according you your diet, 100% perfectly. Your mission is to have as many green dots as possible each month.
You’ll score your month’s progress by dividing your number of green dot meals into the number of total meals you ate for the month.
Let’s dig in a little further…
You Set the Tone
This monthly monitor will work with whatever diet you choose to follow! You set the guidelines in the “KEY” section:
It is crucial that you outline exactly what your perfect day of eating consists of and write it down here. These are the eating habits you’re striving for and, remember, your sole and all-consuming mission for the month is to collect as many green dots as you possibly can!
For me and my fellow nutritarians, it’s easy–we follow Dr. Fuhrman’s protocol.
Whatever your desired dieting path, input it here!
Since your goal is to collect green dots, you don’t get any consolation prizes for yellows–sorry.
I don’t personally use the yellow category for that very reason, but that doesn’t mean that having this category might not be helpful for you!
If you choose to use the yellow option, you need to be very precise as to what constitutes a just-less-than perfect meal. For a nutritarian, that might be the use of oil or salt in what would otherwise be a completely conforming meal.
This is a nice way of documenting nuances in your diet. And a yellow dot is better than a red dot any day of the week!
Super-easy: a red dot means you ate something that was not part of your desired lifestyle.
If you’re using the yellow option, then a red dot is the worse possible way you could eat a meal.
If you’re using only green/red, it can have range. It could just mean you fell short of your green-dot ideal or it could mean you went all the way to crazy-town.
There’s some space each day for you to jot down notes. If you do have a red dot meal it would be worth it to note what you ate. This extra info can help you have insight at the end of the month and tweak your efforts for greater success next month!
If you’re on a diet that allows in-between-meal snacks, no problem–just draw 1 or 2 more circles in the box for the day and color them in accordingly.
What Your Score Means
Your monthly score is going to let you know whether you’re taking the action needed to lose weight and eat more healthfully.
At the end of a month you’re going to write down the total possible meals for the month in the “SCORE” section.
After determining your total meals for the month, you count how many green meals you’ve earned. (Earning is always more rewarding than failing at something, right?)
You divide the number of green meals by the total number of meals available to get your score.
When thinking about your score it’s kind of helpful to remember your grade scale from school:
If you’re taking the time to really change your eating habits you want to be aiming for that “A” range! If you seriously need to lose weight you really want to be at that 97%, A+ level.
But it’s important to note that even 60% is a real accomplishment and nothing to be ashamed of! Don’t believe me, just listen to Dr. Fuhrman’s take from his book Eat to Live:
“If you improve your diet now, and begin consuming even 60% of your calories from nutrient-dense plant foods (that’s 10 times as much vegetationas the average American consumes now), it is reasonable to expect a 60 percent decrease in your risk of cancer or heart attack.”
No matter what specific plant-based protocol you follow here’s how you need to think of it:
Every single meal that you chose to eat healthfully is improving your life! Every green dot you fill in is a win! Don’t focus on the slip ups, get right back on and earn your next green dot!
You are earning your healthy lifestyle with every good decision you make, it all doesn’t just stop because you cheat.
Now it should be a whole lot easier to actually visualize the way you eat, you might notice some patterns…
What Kind of Cheater Are You?
There are 4 styles of cheating that I’ve identified.
#1: The Flat-Line Cheater
My name is Kristen and I’m a flat-line cheater.
A flat-liner is the classic all-or-nothing type of dieter–you’re either 100% perfect or 100% not. There’s no in between.
Being a flat-line cheater is what led me to figure out a way to change my habits and visualize my progress in more than “on” and “off” terms.
I have to take a moment here to share my personal story…
I adopted Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian lifestyle back in January, 2013. I completed his 6 week plan faithfully, I’m talking 100% (you can read all about it here), and lost over 21 pounds! I am happy to announce that none of those 21 pounds have ever been regained since I lost them!
However, I had more than 21 pounds to lose and, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m an all-or-nothing-kinda-girl. A definite pattern has emerged where I will go stretches of months, weeks or days eating completely on my plan–followed with days, weeks (and during the really bad times) months being off my plan.
For the past 3 years I have been cycling, losing and re-gaining the same 15 pounds–and I’m over. it. My ultimate goal is to reach my ideal weight and maintain it.
Sadly, it’s taken my 3 years of “on” and “off” dieting to realize I’m not going to get to my goal with these habits.
For flat-liners, on-and-offers, all-or-nothing-ers (or whatever you’d like to call yourself), visualizing your eating this way is extremely helpful and will help you snap out of funks quicker!
Every single green meal is a victory! There is no “start” date or “end” date, there is only how many green meals can I stack up this month? And can I beat my score next month?
#2: The Checker Board Cheater
The complete foil to the flat-liner is the checker board cheater.
You may think this kind of cheating is schizophrenic, but really there is a lot to be said of this type of cheater.
They aren’t obsessed with perfection and can transition quickly from their transgressions. If they cheat they do better the next time!
The only problem here is they never put enough green meals together in a row to see real weight loss–and over time this can cause them to get discouraged and give up.
If you notice that you end up cheating on your diet every single day, you have to challenge yourself to put together at least 3 to 5 days where you don’t cheat, or come to grips with the reality that you are not going to lose weight.
You might have to start with small steps like: if you cheat for a meal then the next three meals have to be 100% on your plan–and hold yourself accountable to this rule.
Once you start to see results it will motivate you to stay on track.
#3: The Weekend Binger
You are a militant, dieting bad-ass Monday to Friday at 5PM–then all hell breaks loose!
It’s like dieters gone wild for the next 48 hours, but somehow you rally and get right back to the green zone come Monday!
This is my hubby to a “t.” I also notice that a lot of people who workout regularly fall under this cheating banner.
Honestly, this pattern can maintain your weight if you workout religiously but it’s not going to help you lose weight.
So, what’s the ideal kind of cheater?
Glad you asked…
#4: The 90/10 Cheater
This is the kind of cheater you want to be!
This is the cheater who still is a winner at the end of the month!
This comes straight out of Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live. “The 90 percent rules allows you some leeway for imperfection and special occasions or to have a treat once in a while.”
It’s easiest to visualize in a 10 day frame. A total of 30 possible meals and 3 of them can be cheat meals.
If you notice, you don’t have more than 1 cheat meal in a single day, they aren’t back to back, and most days (7 out of 10 to be exact) are completely 100% on-plan days.
This is the kind of cheating habit you want to have after you have reached your ideal weight and are ready to just maintain.
If you’re still needing to lose weight, you want to be back at that “A+” range which is eating on target 95 to 97% or more of your meals.
Okay! We’ve covered a lot!
You know that you need to create habits by taking daily action to live the healthy lifestyle you’ve chosen.
You know you are going to cheat along the way, but now you have a tool to monitor those cheats and not let cheating become a habit that shuts down your progress!
If you are not on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, or thinking about starting it, you are more than welcome to stop reading here! May I suggest you head over to my most popular post: Eat to Live Food Prep Guide (that has an awesome free printable food prep schedule)!
I hope you will come on back and leave a comment below to let us know how this new way of thinking about dieting and cheating is working for you!
But, if you’re curious about what this site is all about, you’re thinking about starting Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live 6 week program or you’re a nutritarian veteran who needs a little refresher then there’s a little bit more you need to know…
How to Cheat on the Eat to Live Plan
Like I said earlier, the number one question I get from fellow nutritarians and soon-to-be-nutritarians who happen upon this site for the first time is: How do you cheat on the Eat to Live plan?
In the beginning, I really didn’t like this question.
I’ve realized when you hold yourself out as a quasi-expert on a certain diet style (this site is all about being nutritarian) a question like this is to be expected.
I always answered with a resounding: “You don’t cheat.”
Obviously, I’m not the young, naive nutritarian that I used to be. But there is still some truth to that, especially in the beginning…
Do Your First 6 Weeks at 100%
When you are starting Dr. Fuhrman’s 6 week nutritarian program you are not supposed to cheat.
You need to strictly follow the nutritarian guidelines to prove to yourself that this lifestyle will heal your body, reverse disease and you will lose a good chunk of weight in the process.
In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains it like this:
“I encourage people to do a scientific test: do this very strictly for just 6 weeks and see how much weight you lose. Most get so excited with the results during the six-week ‘trial’ that they are motivated to keep going. Results encourage change, and results motivate. The stricter you are, the more quickly your taste will change.”
The first 6 weeks is what hooks you, frees you from toxic hunger and proves to you that eating nutritarian is what your body craves. You realize that the way you’ve been eating your whole life has only led you to health problems and being overweight.
It is critical that you dive into these first 6 weeks with complete dedication so you buy into adopting this as your permanent way of life!
In Dr. Greger’s recent book, How Not to Die, he corroborates the effectiveness of this all-in approach:
“I’ve always tried to get my patients to think of healthy eating as an experiment. It can be overwhelming to think of such sweeping change as permanent. That’s why I ask them to give me just three weeks. I find that if my patient thinks of it simply as an experiment, they’re more likely to go whole hog and realize the maximum benefits. But that’s just me being sneaky. I know that once those three weeks are up, if they really gave it their all, they will be feeling so much better, their lab values will be looking so much better, and their palates will have started to change.”
You experience the power and vibrancy of the nutritarian diet when you follow Dr. Fuhrman’s program for 6 weeks. You can read my personal 6 week journal here. I’m not saying doing this for 42 days is easy–it ain’t. But it is extremely worth it!
You will never fully go back to the way you used to eat or think about food.
But it’s also important to remember that 100% is hard to sustain after those first 6 weeks…
What Score Do You Need To Keep Losing Weight?
For a long time, after my first 6 weeks of being “the perfect little nutritarian” (and losing 21 pounds in the process), I thought the only way to reach my ideal weight was to stay on the program at 100% until I reached that magic number.
What ended up happening is I would start the plan, then cheat. Everything would grind to a halt for a few days, I would feel really crappy, then feel like a failure, and start all over again trying to be at 100% like I was those first 6 weeks.
I’ve realized: I had a lot more motivation those first 6 weeks because I had a lot more weight to lose.
Now I’m closing in on those last 15 vanity pounds and feeling more comfortable with my body.
I’ve realized that I’m not going to be able to be 100% perfect like I was those first 6 weeks, but I can still reach my ideal weight!
I’m going to have to be scoring at least 95% each month.
And, that’s how I would define health excellence: 95 to 100% on-plan nutritarian eating.
Maintain Your Nutritarian Lifestyle With the 90/10 Rule
Okay, once you reach your ideal weight on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan you get to have a bit more leeway.
Here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about it in Eat to Live:
Falling off the plan for one meal should give you more incentive to continue the rest of the week without a setback. Jump right back so that you eat healthy for the rest of the week so as to make the one meal off the diet almost meaningless. In other words, follow the 90 percent rule. The 90 percent rule allows you some leeway for imperfection and special occasions or to have a treat once in a while. You can still retain the benefits and your healthy slim body if you follow that less-than-perfect “special occasion meal” with twenty healthy meals.
Essentially you want to get 90% of your calories from nutrient-dense, whole plant foods. 10% can come from low-nutrient foods.
Ideally, you would use low-nutrient foods as condiments, which would break down to 1 or 2 low-nutrient items daily.
Examples of 100 Calories Worth of Low-Nutrient Foods:
- 2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 bagel
- 1/2 cup pasta
- 1 small cookies
- 2 ounces broiled chicken or turkey breast
- 3 ounces fish
- 1 1/2 ounces red meat
- 1 thin slice cheese
- 1 cup of 1% milk
In Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman goes on to say that “[u]sing the 90 percent rule, you are allowed to eat almost any kind of food, even a small cookie or candy bar, as long as all your other calories that day are from nutrient-dense vegetation.”
I hope you feel a whole heck-of-a-lot more comfortable about this whole cheating thing!
Now you have an easy-to-use monthly monitor to visually see how your eating habits are affecting your weight-loss goals.
Don’t let slip ups get you down and set you back! Expect them to happen and know that you can still achieve amazing results and health excellence even when cheating happens!
Wait! Was this post helpful for you? Please leave a comment and let me know–I love getting your feedback!
Let’s live better together! xo, Kristen
Kristen, thank you so much for your nutritarian posts. They keep me motivated! I’m an all or nothing girl and I want to change that by being kinder to myself when I slip up and getting back on track.
P.S. I really love how bright and colourful your blog is.
So, so nice to meet another all-or-nothing gal! I know how brutally awful that mindset can be! So far I’ve been using this calendar method for just over a month and it has made a HUGE difference in my mindset!
I’m so, so happy you are enjoying the blog and finding the content helpful! Thank you kindly for taking the time to leave a comment–it means so much!
I like this “cheat plan”. I tend not to be a cheater, and I don’t like the word or it’s concept, but now that I have been doing this nearly 3 months, I remind myself every so often “you’re not on the six week plan any longer, occasional off-plan foods are fine unless you get carried away ! Don’t forget you still have over 100 pounds to lose!” I think if I use your dot calendar I might need to check my percentage once a week.
I think this will be helpful to a lot of people!
First off, thank you so much for leaving a comment–I worked SO hard on this post and it is just lovely to get feedback!
Let me just say that you are an inspiration to me–I have loved following you in the Eat group and it doesn’t surprise me at all that you don’t “cheat.” I’m not a fan of the word either, but I had to use it to get Google rankings on the topic 😉
You are going to make your goal with your commitment and determination! I agree, that doing the percentage score every week would also be helpful! If I make an updated one I will include that!
This post is just GENIUS!! I am such a visual person and have never ever thought of using a calendar this way let alone made a template! Thank you for this wonderful tool. I’ll be putting it into action starting tomorrow!
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!
This calendar has been the absolute answer to me, keeps me motivated and focusing on the positive–I hope it will be all of those things to you too!
Please let me know how you like it!!
Hi Kristen, you are amazing!!! I love this post and have already printed out the calendar. I am going to use it. I have been trying to do the 6 week plan for a very long time and because I am all or nothing I fall off and give up for a while then get back on and it has been a vicious circle. I have to say that my eating is the best it has ever been in my life even though I cheat. You see I am a working pastry chef and the will power to not taste what I make is so hard. I would love to see a post from you on will power.
I love your blog and have been reading and getting inspiration from you. Thank you for what you have posted. I really relate to it and will continue my quest to be a 100% nutritarian.
Yay!! I’m so glad you found this post helpful and are using the calendar!!
Wow! Doing this diet as a pastry chef has to be incredibly difficult–I can’t even fathom that! I know the first 6 weeks are supposed to be at 100%, but with what you’re dealing with, I would suggest just getting your monthly percentage up to 95% or higher! Getting two giant salads in there daily and eating mushrooms and greens daily and you should be well on your way!
Willpower! Check! I am adding that to my editorial calendar for you, Pam! It’s certainly a challenging topic, I’m not quite sure I have a handle on myself!
Thank you so, so much for your comment!
That is a great idea Kristen to aim for 95% vs 100%. It takes some of the pressure off. I do find if I have food already made in my refrigerator I will go to that instead of something I am working on. Keeping myself full helps me to resist the goodies I am making for my customers.
I am going to try your baked tofu fingers today to keep on hand. Have you ever frozen them?
Lately I have had the time to cook healthy for my hubby and me and I feel amazing. I have several leftover things in the fridge right now that I can go to for a healthy meal with little prep. It makes me feel so much more in control.
Thank you for your blog!!!
K! I will try your calendar tomorrow. I have two habits that trip me up. Dinner never stops and I eat in food stores….esp if I go in a store in the evening and esp if I detour into a convenience store. I have never gotten more than two weeks without sugar, flour, salt combo junk. Waaaa!
I think I will read all your blogs too.
So snacking is your go-to cheat! Two weeks junk free is a pretty awesome starting point! May I ask if you’re following Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian plan? Do you have any health issues besides wanting to lose weight?
You can always email me back using the contact tab! Thank you for leaving a comment and I hopw you enjoy the rest of the blog!
This is a great post, and very helpful. My husband and I are all-or-nothing types who have started ETL over and over since our initial success last summer. I think this will help us change our mindset about “messing up” once in awhile.
So happy this has been helpful for you! Wishing you and your hubby the best!
Great post! I agree w the red/green only (no yellow) set-up. For me, using the yellow would be a slippery slope, for sure. I’ve been a total checkerboard cheater..but, with this easy tracker, I will be able to keep that under control. Thanks. 🙂
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I’m so glad you are finding the calendar helpful!!
Wishing you the best success on your health journey!
Hi Kristen! I enjoyed reading this. It is well written and the calendar is a great tool. You really found a way to help and are addressing a problem that probably most of us face.
I often go through this thought pattern: I need to make a commitment so I can stick to it or I won’t embrace ETL….it is not just about loosing weight but getting rid of migraines, pms-symptoms, sluggishness, depression…and preventing diseases, being an example to my family, so I can be more useful, have energy, enjoy life…but then I picture all the dinners, showers and meetings I have to go to and totally give into temptation…which drags me into ‘giving up-I just can’t do it’.
But now with this so called ‘cheat-plan’ it is doable. The green dots are like putting money in the savings to save up for our next vacation or a car…
Really do a great job creating this blog!
I hear you, Miri, there are so, so many reasons (I mean really compelling reasons) to follow the ETL program but it can be so very difficult when everything is set up against you. Changing the conversation as what constitutes success is the very first step to implementing lasting change in your lifestyle!
Thank you so very much for taking the time to leave this comment, you have no idea how much hearing from you means to me! I have lots of great things to come that I’m so excited to share!
Your posts are amazing, I also find it hard to follow the cookbook recipes, but yours are so great, keeping it much simpler. Also the tips for organizing the meals throughout the week are brilliant.
I’ve always struglled with weight – on and off every couple of years, i’m full of stretchmarks although I don’t have kids yet. I’m a bit of a part-time nutritarian (or try to be), but also love fish , poultry, sweets and a glass of rose wine once in a while…
I followed Fuhrman two years ago and it was great, I felt amazing. My husband also lost some good weight….but starting last summer I changed jobs and I work full time from home which makes it pretty hard to exercise, as I have to work either very early in the mornings or late at night due to time zone differences with other people and makes it difficult to organize my time to get to zumba, yoga or do anything else…and with the very long winter in Ohio I put on around 15-20 pounds (138 today) which I’d really want to lose given I’m 5’1 and my “good weight” is about 120 pounds.
I started the 6 weeks plan 4 days ago, but I don’t seem to lose any weight….and I’d really need some motivation to continue. We eat a lot of watermelon in the summer time, do you think that’s an issue?also drink cold sparkling water (pellegrino – sodium is 10mg/serving which is very low) and have 1 cup of black espresso. Do you think these would affect the wight loss?
My smoothies are 2 cups of greens for sure, also at least 1 big green salad….maybe my calorie intake is too high given I didnt exercise at all?
Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.
Any advice you can give me.would be great.
Huge congrats to you starting ETL again!! So, if you can give up the pellegrino and the espresso, that will certainly be helpful to your cause. But try this first:
So, I’ve done the plan several times now and I can say that each time I lose weight and then gain it back, the weight does not come off as easily as when I did the 6 week plan for the first time in January 2013. What I’ve found is you need to eat more not less. But not more of the easy stuff like whole grains or fruit, but the hard stuff like raw green veggies and kale.
When weight is not moving like it should you need to focus on GBOMBS, but especially dark leafy greens, onions and mushrooms. You can read up here about how these foods actually break down fat storage deposits–it’s freakin’ amazing!
Focus on eating a large salad at lunch and dinner, first. Complete the entire salad before moving on to a hot dish. And make sure you are eating kale, mushrooms and onions at each meal. The easy way to do this is to dice and saute onions in low sodium veggie stock, then add in sliced mushrooms and finish it off with tons of kale. Use no-salt seasoning or garlic powder for flavor. Make a huge batch of this saute and eat at least a 1/2 cup of it at each meal–its great with no-oil hummus.
Fruit is not a problem but your focus has to be on flooding your system with greens and raw veggies. The sad reality is that every time we yo-yo our body makes it more difficult for us to lose weight in the future. I am really focusing this year on being disciplined enough to reach my ideal weight. The second challenge is to stay there and not let my weight fluctuate more than 5 pounds. The older we get, the harder it will be. I’m totally there with you, Lucy, but I know we can do this!
Wishing you all the best for the rest of your weeks on the plan! You’ve got this! Be patient with the process, it will work! Please let me know if these tips help!
Thank you so much for this post. I’m reading it a year or more after you wrote it, but it is so helpful to me. I’ve been trying to find an app where I can record my progress, but I could iny, find one with a check for a whole day and one now it would be more helpful to me to have three meals to check off. I am all or nothing, but lately it’s just the odd meal that is off. I’m developing ways to manage (ignore and distract from) the doubts and inner criticisms about my intention to eat high nutrient.
I did want to say that it’s possible to be more flexible with ETL after the initial 6 weeks by increasing the amounts of nuts/seeds or grains (which I hardly eat at all) or fruit. I needed to maintain and not lose to much weight, I would increase these foods. Or maybe have a veggie burger made with breadcrumbs or something like that. I don’t consider that cheating. High nutrient eating can be a bit more flexible. But clear boundaries are most helpful for me. I don’t really want to eat anything off the plan, but there have been some times when it was very difficult to avoid. I think if I had this way of thinking, that you have explained here, it would have been easier for me to manage.
Thank you. I can’t wait to print these up and use them
Kristen, your site is a treasure trove for any of us who need more information to succeed at being a Nutritarian. Your site fills in all the gaps left after reading “Eat to Live.” I have been “on and off” the Nutritarian saddle many times these past 5 years. One “AHA” moment I just had was reading this section and discovering, thanks to your visuals, that I am a Checker Board Cheater. AHA! So that is why I am not losing weight week after week, year after year!!! After all, I eat many super healthy meals and eat more veggies and fruit than most people I know. I have been a vegetarian since my teens too. Oh, but I do have a cheat meal (pizza or “healthy” frozen foods) just about every day and I end up eating lots of “healthy” cheats too (dark chocolate, whole grain corn tortilla chips, popcorn). As a Checker Board Cheater, now I can SEE that my problem is I never sting enough good meals together and enough good days together without cheating to lose weight. I needed to see it mapped out to get it. A BIG lesson learned! A huge hug and a big thank you for the insight. This will make a HUGE difference to my success going forward! Robin
I use an app called See How You Eat Coach and it automatically tallies your score and tracks the quality of your meals. It’s been incredibly insightful, but doesn’t give constructive suggestions like you did in this post – so thank you! I love the breakdown of the “cheater types.” I’m apparently a checkboard cheater and love the comment that “this type never puts enough green meals together to see progress…and over time can cause them to get discouraged and give up.” It makes so much sense and yet I never put it together.
What an interesting app–I need to check it out!
So lovely to hear that you found that insight helpful and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and let me know!
I don’t usually leave posts on blogs, but you went above and beyond in offering helpful advice and a practical tool. This was really helpful. Thank you so much!
That’s so wonderful to hear, thanks so much for leaving a comment, Hilary!
Thank you for wonderful blog and article! I just wanna say I started nutritarian lifestyle again after going off it 6 years ago. But find myself craving my favorite crab cake burger and gumbo egg/sausage dishes from my favorite restaurants. I have not cheated but think of them often. However, I no longer care for oil, sweets, white bread or flower or most meats, bakery junkfood, nor even storebought ice creams! But these few dishes that i have always loved are always in back of mind. Does the 90/10 rule apply here ? I just worry indulging in my favorite foods again will spiral into me wanting try more of them ( though i love my greens, nuts, beans, and mushrooms and will never stop eating them). Thank you if you let me know your thoughts.
Thank you for this post. I feel super guilty at the moment because I just found myself in an all or nothing binge…you know the drill…my son ordered French fries and I just out of habit grabbed one. Well that’s all it took. 10 minutes later I’ve consumed more salt and sugar than I have in all 10 days of my six week plan. I felt downhearted and like such a failure, but reading about the types and how serious it is to stay strict on the 6 week plan in this post has me encouraged to jump back on track tomorrow. I have about 15-20 lbs total to lose, but my primary goal is to break free from my lifelong eating disorder, which can tend to become unmanageable when I eat sugary or salty food. Anyway…I’m also proud because today is the first binge I’ve had in 10 days. And today was the first time the magnetic seduction of a binge was strong enough to get me.
Thank you for writing this blog. Everything about it is fantastic.
Hi, this article really helpful for me. I am confused for choosing the best diet plan what would be the best for everything. But review this article my confusion is clear, Thanks.
So wonderful to hear that!
Hi Kristen and my fellow heroes / heroines,
Checkerboard cheater here! Love this post and the accountability it brings. Another visual person here who needs the calendar which will go on my Vision Board! I am one of those girls who wouldn’t know what being thin is. I have always been overweight, but was very athletic while indulging on the SAD diet. Emotional eating has always been part of my comfort for happy, reward, sad reward, and stress reward with food routine. I AM one of the middle age, mid 50s that totally agrees that it has become so much harder to release weight and the body injuries do catch up! My SAD diet has caught up too in the form of a fatty liver, so the release of weight is really a life mission. I have retired from a very mentally stressful job, moved out of my area to a new, slower paced area, but the downfall being that I know no one here, and have much more time on my hands. So far, the stress has by far, minimized and the time to work on “self” is a gift!
Balance has always been a struggle, this is no different. Convenience eating and lack of prep has created a very conditioned habit. Also, a terrible addiction to sugar that has been far reaching. Even having raisins and dates in the house are a tempting when emotional triggers strike, real or mind created. I live alone, so having the support here is so meaningful and motivating and the accountability that some of us need. So, my areas of eating only 3x a day are challenging because I get full and have not built up the consumption at one sitting, so I tend to go back and snack (dates, raisins, nuts) or want to eat more of what I should later on. The good part is I am logging every morsel and time and how I feel. My log must include an emotional component since food / mood is so relevant. Exercise is the balance part of the equation. Back in 2010 – 2011 I went full on in working out and being fit. It worked and I lost 5 inches off my hips, 35 lbs. released, felt and looked great. Cannot say my SAD eating was addressed, but I was able to push my body 45 min a day at home or at the gym. Now, I have been addressing my eating, but have lost the balance of exercise and now have physical limitations that have become roadblocks because its easier not to engage in exercise or it use it as an excuse. This has impeded motivation, so the previous willpower post made sense to me. Any input is welcome. 🙂
Striving for Balance ; )
So lovely to meet a fellow checkerboard cheater!
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us! It sounds like you know exactly what you’re up against. I recommend to not bring any triggering foods into your home. If it’s available for you to eat then you will when you’re triggered. Try it for a few months and the progress that can be made!
Fight through the pain to get your body moving again. It’s really a use it or lose it situation.
Just a few more refinements and you can attain that balance you’re looking for!
Thanks for this post and for the monthly template! I am hoping that earning checkmarks for each successful meal will help me stay on track with my eating. (I am using checkmarks instead of green dots as that’s easier for me.) Your website and the Power Prep ebook have been very helpful. 🙂
So, so happy to hear you’ll be using this resource and the Power Plan!
Thank you so much for this article. I ate off plan today and have really been feeling badly. I’m going to apply the 90/10 rule and also use the chart. I feel like I can get back on track without the added shaming. Thank you, thank you!
I have a question for you!
You should write a post on how to eat Nutritarian at restaurants. Going out to eat sometimes can be inevitable and it would be helpful to have some good tips and tricks on doing so!
I love that recommendation for a new post and thank you for taking the time to share it with me!!
OMG, I’m a weekend binger! And I DO work out religiously. It’s like you know me. I wish you had some more specifics on what’s worked for this type of cheater!
Hi May! I’m so happy that this article was insightful for you in identifying your “cheating” type! I’d say that now you know that you tend to do this you need to put in effort to disrupt that pattern (especially if it’s keeping you from meeting your goals).
You could start with stitching out that compliance to one more day–so do the same “break” on Saturday and then start on Sunday.
I think identifying and being conscious of something is the first step, then coming up with a strategy to disrupt.
I kind of look at “cheat meals” the same way that I look at cheating in my marriage: NOT AN OPTION!!! 🙂 Because, realize, that a “cheat” meal means: “Hey, time to wreck my health and eat something harmful for my body.” Who wants to do that?!!!! And with hundreds, if not thousands, of plant-based recipe websites and blogs and youtube channels out there, there is absolutely no reason or excuse! ANYTHING can be adapted to being plant based and yummy! You wouldn’t drink a little bit of poison, right? So don’t EAT a little bit of poison!
Such a wonderful way to think of it, Jennifer!
Wow Jennifer! You have an iron will and I think it’s amazing! I heard a plant based doctor say that our personalities have a lot to do with how compliant we are on these protocols and it looks like you have the right personality type to do this at 100%! Thank you for sharing your insights!
Well, Kristen … you have done it again. This post was so helpful to me. I was just in Dr. Jay Benson’s office – he recommended your site to me, once again, and I’m so happy to have reinstated myself into your world. Best to you and happy Thanksgiving, Grace
So very grateful to Dr. Benson for sending you my way and that you found this article helpful on your journey!
Sending love and support your way, Grace!