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Cheat Treats
April 11, 2022 COMMENT comment
Cheat Treats
By Madhulika Dash
Can you have your cake and eat it too? Five fitness experts share with us their own 'cheat sheet' that allows them to do exactly the same, and can work for you too! "I take my piece of cake or sweet, stroll around the balcony and slowly eat as if it's the last piece in existence. I do not indulge while I am at work, as you tend to eat more because of external factors like stress, pressure and of course the constant exposure to such foods."
To eaThealthy and exercise well.' – We vow to follow the resolution every year. But soon the cravings take over: For that piece of chocolate cake, a plate of aloo tikki, a pizza, et cetera. It's not easy to curb the yearnings, right?

A good trick to counter this is to eat in moderation, say experts. Easier said than done! Don't these experts falter, we wonder! Do they also give in to those cravings? Do they also have to double their efforts at losing weight?
The answer, you'll be glad to know, is more than comforting. Our experts have a sweet tooth like most of us and they do indulge like most of us. However, they have their own cheat sheets thaThelp them indulge their favourites.

For Vesna Pericevic Jacob, co-owner, Vesna's Wellness Clinic and author of Work It Out Without A Workout, the trick has been indulging in moderation, more often and do so early on in the morning when the body has still scope to work it out. "And the next day," says Jacob, "I eat a low glycemic meal with a lot of salads and such to off set the calorie intake."

Jacob also looks for good alternatives. Fruit-based yogurt instead of ice-cream, for instance. "Add a little extra cheese on your sandwich rather than ordering the nachos topped with cheese. And most importantly, be regular with your exercise. Going in a full-throttle workout regimen once in a while does little to off set the indulgence," she says.

Mask your indulgence
Nutritionist Sveta Bhassin has never had it easy. "It was my mum's nightmare to see me reach out for food that made me fat," says the expert, who still finds it a herculean task to get around most of the cravings, especially Indian sweets.

A degree in nutrition and years of experience helping people deal with obesity though tamed the craving beast, Bhassin confesses, often giving in 'more times than is expected of a nutritionist'. "The trick to having a guilt-free indulgence is to mask it well. I usually have a quarter of a piece of whatever I want to have with other complex carbohydrates or proteins like paneer and others that can keep me full and satiated. So, I end up eating a 'moderate' portion of my favourite dessert or chaat, and not feeling the pinch," she reveals.

Do not indulge at work
Actor, anchor and founder of BollyFit, Reema Sarin has cravings for what she likes to call naughty vegetarian snacks like chaat, bhelpuri, khandavi, caramel popcorn, peanuts, and eggless cakes. "However, "I do not indulge while I am at work, as you tend to eat more because of external factors like stress, pressure and of course the constant exposure to such foods." I have my indulgence days when I am having a relaxing time, so I can actually pick things that I actually crave for. And if it's bhel for lunch, then I would not pair it with a samosa or any other chaat or cake," she divulges.

Make it your soul focus
A known name in the fitness fraternity and a role model for 40-year-olds, Vinata Shetty has an 'untameable sweet tooth'.

"No matter how hard I try, it always comes back with vengeance every weekend. And I've little choice, but to give in," she confesses.

But that changed a few years ago when Vinata finally could break a deal with her 'cravings', and that too without finding substitutes. "If it's a cake I want, it's a cake I have," she says.

So what is her cheat sheet? "I use my cravings as rewards on days when I've done a really good workout. The thing I keep in mind is to do so alone – minus friends, minus TV and minus any other distraction. I take my piece of cake or sweet, stroll around the balcony and slowly eat as if it's the last piece in existence. And, I never indulge empty stomach," she says. "On those few days when I feel like indulging again, I go for a walk with the piece, eat it, take a walk and then take the stairs back. The time lapse often keeps me away from overindulging," she shares.

Eat dessert first
A serial defaulter with her healthy eating regimen, Shalini Bhargava, founder of JG's Fitness Centre, says, "It's a 365-day struggle for me. I make a resolution and often am the first one to break it." Her trick lies in eating dessertrst. "In buffets, I often have my desserts first. And while doing so, I do keep in mind whether the craving is psychological or hormonal. Of course, my knowledge of nutrition helps me pick the right one accordingly."

"However, having said that, I do not think there is any good alternative to an intense workout that can keep your metabolism high and let you indulge in your favourites more often," ends the expert.

A common explanation for our cravings is the lack of that particular food – in most cases the good fat – in the body. For example, cravings for cheesy foods and milk products could be the body's way of indicating there is a need for more calcium.

A sudden desire for a meal of chicken or meat may indicate that the body is in need of more protein. Cravings are usually a catabolic condition, which is the rate at which the breakdown of body's cells and tissues and their repair takes place. This can emerge due to illness, over-exertion, post surgery, ageing, stress, lack of proper nutrition, trauma, over-training in exercise, lack of good proteins or long gaps between any two meals over the day. In this condition, the body functions on compromised efficiency and the brain thus demands stimulants like cakes or pastries, aerated drinks or brain stimulants like coffee, tea or pleasure foods like junk food.

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