Fitness is a lifestyle, not a temporary process. If you simply want to loose weight, you can be successful with restriction and deprivation. But, if you want to keep the weight off and maintain a healthy weight, you need to encorporate changes in your behaviors that are sustainable after you've hit the magic number on the scale.
Restriction, deprivation and cheats are not sustainable long term.
Loosing weight requires eating fewer calories than you burn. It is not complicated. You could technically loose weight by eating 900 calories of cookies and nothing else if you burn 1200 per day. However, this is not nutritionally sound and would result in illness.
So, your treats, cheats, and rewards can fit into your daily calories, if you keep it under control.
- Only eat foods that you enjoy.
- Try new things if you don't like healthy things like vegetables or are sick of chicken.
- Feel satisfied at every meal.
- Notice how you feel after you eat certain foods, where your energy level is, how your stomach feels, how soon after eating you feel hungry again. Eat more of the foods that make you feel good and less of the other stuff.
- Notice your other behaviors. If you are truly hungry, you will want to eat a plate full of vegetables to satisfy the hunger. If you wouldn't eat vegetables, but would eat a chocolate chip cookie (or 6), you are probably eating for the wrong reasons. Look for patterens.
On the otherhand, people try to forget about the cookie that they crave by eating other, healthy things . . . then end up eating 3 or 4 times what they would have eaten if they had just enjoyed one cookie. If you really want a cookie, eat a cookie. But only one. And enjoy it. Eat it slow and savor the taste. If you feel like you can have another one when you want it you are going to be less likely to over-indulge.
Bottom line, enjoy your diet, but no cheating.