While reviewing The Dia Method 3 Phase Fat Burn nutrition guide, you may ask yourself: How do I manage to live in Phase 1 ongoing? How do others keep going in Phase 2 or Phase 3 longterm? It’s much easier than you might think. Life is all about balance, and it’s crucial to allow space for some flexibility when embarking on longterm lifestyle improvements. The practice that makes this easiest for me to navigate while staying on track with my healthy momentum is the inclusion of 1-2 splurge meals per week (note: this is a splurge MEAL, not a splurge day, or a splurge weekend, or a splurge season…). As you might have noticed in our challenge calendar, splurge meals are incorporated from now (week 3) onward. I basically plan to go “off plan” about 20% of the time so I always have the freedom and flexibility to participate as fully as I wish in birthdays, holidays, special dates, personal pleasures, etc… without sabotaging my overall health goals. As long as you contain the splurge to a single meal and choose to be “on plan” for your next meal or snack, you will continue to achieve your goals.

The key is to be gracious with yourself, to move forward, and to choose to be “on plan” (whether following phase 1, 2 or 3) with your next meal.

What is an appropriate splurge meal?

What does a splurge meal look like? Is it a carb fest? No! Do you have to count and measure and track everything? No. A “splurge breakfast” I sometimes enjoy on the weekends with my family is: homemade sourdough pancakes with grass-fed butter, bacon, and eggs.

More carbs than most of my meals? Yes. Did I feel great after this meal? Yes. If I had eaten only pancakes swimming in syrup and washed them down with orange juice, I would have felt awful. No question. A cheat or splurge should be conducted with common sense, and still with some degree of balance. If we go to our favorite Italian restaurant and make it a splurge dinner, I will eat some thin crust pizza… but I will also eat their amazing salad and share a roasted chicken dish with my husband. Yes, I’ll enjoy a glass of wine. And yes, I’ll share part of a dessert. This is all good, and it’s in moderation because that is where enjoyment happens. We eat for pleasure, for social connection, and for sustenance and nutrients. A good splurge meal incorporates all of these elements. It’s not in secret. It’s not self-punishment. It’s not something to feel guilty about. And it’s not something that spills over into an entire day of carb overload.

The “oops” splurge meal

I also encourage you to leave room for another kind of splurge, especially if you’re new to this way of eating: the “oops” splurge meal. This happens mostly when you’ve failed to plan ahead, or when life simply intervenes. It might be a weeknight when you had to work late, pick up the kids, and then run to a PTA meeting… by the time you get home, you’re exhausted and hungry and end up eating your kids’ leftover mac & cheese as you stand next the stove, and a couple cold meatballs you found in the fridge. Glamorous? No. Worth it? Not really. But it happens. The key is to be gracious with yourself, to move forward, and to choose to be “on plan” (whether following phase 1, 2 or 3) with your next meal.

Plan ahead for one of each

If you’re new to Dia, I suggest planning one special splurge meal per week (a date night, a social event, a special occasion)… and allowing yourself one “oops splurge” per week. Physically record these two splurges as follows:

  1. Plan the intentional splurge on your calendar (for example, Friday night dinner at friend’s house – you will eat whatever they serve and it’s usually carbs…).
  2. Write the “oops splurge’ down when it happens to hold yourself accountable.

If you get through an entire week with only 1 splurge meal, that’s fine. You’re not required to eat 2 splurge meals per week. But most people do best knowing that they can enjoy the flexibility of 1-2 cheat meals weekly. This dodges the trap of perfectionism on the one hand (any break in plan is a reason to throw out all of your healthy progress) and it also provides psychological flexibility to remember that nothing is forbidden – you just choose when and where you wish to indulge. You are in control, and you choose to be healthy while still enjoying an occasional “off plan” treat.

We eat for pleasure, for social connection, and for sustenance and nutrients. A good splurge meal incorporates all of these elements. It’s not in secret. It’s not self-punishment. It’s not something to feel guilty about. And it’s not something that spills over into an entire day of carb overload.

If you haven’t already done so, join us to learn more about this sustainable and effective plan.

By Leah Keller, Creator of The Dia Method. Learn more about Leah at leahkeller.com.