How To Do a Cheat Day Right

Recently I’ve gotten some questions about cheat days and cheat meals. So I’m going to go over that in this post. A cheat day or meal means that you eat foods that are higher in unhealthy fats, carbs, and/or sugar than you normally do but the quantity of food should stay the same. This would be either 3-4 cheat meals in 1 cheat day, 3-4 cheat meals spread out over 1 week.

Why Are Cheat Days Important?

When you’re trying to lose weight it’s best to have 1 cheat day or 3-4 cheat meals per week, so your weight loss doesn’t plateau. If you cut calories or consistently fast the same amount every week, you’ll lose weight initially. But eventually, your body will get used to this. Then you’ll stop losing weight unless you keep increasing the number of calories you cut or keep increasing the amount of time you fast. Eventually, this won’t be feasible. The better option is to introduce cheat meals or a cheat day to your week.

How You Should and Shouldn’t Do A Cheat Day

Let’s say you usually eat a salad with grilled chicken for lunch that fits on one plate. Your cheat meal is fried chicken, waffles and macaroni and cheese. I went to Austin last week, and this was a popular dish with my family. A cheat meal doesn’t mean you should eat 3 pieces of fried chicken, an entire waffle, and an entree bowl of macaroni and cheese for one meal.

A cheat meal means you should eat the equivalent of what would’ve fit on your one plate with the grilled chicken salad you usually eat. So maybe 1-2 pieces of fried chicken, ¼ of a waffle, and 1 cup of macaroni and cheese. This depends on what the amount of food you’re eating for a regular healthy meal is, but it should be the same amount of food total for your cheat meals too. If you increase the amount of food you have and it has more unhealthy fat, carbs, and sugar in it, then it’s like you’re eating extra cheat meals. Then you’ll likely put on weight.

Should You Do 1 Cheat Day or 3-4 Cheat Meals a Week?

That depends on which you find makes it easier for you to return to eating healthy afterward. You may find it easier mentally to have just 1 day where you eat less healthy food because if you start eating unhealthy food in the morning, then you’ll eat unhealthy food all day. Alternatively, you may prefer 3-4 cheat meals split over the week if you only go out to eat with other people 3-4 times a week.

Want to lose weight with science-backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

P.S. Wondering what dirty keto is? Here’s my one-minute video recap.

How to Eat Indian Vegetarian (Gujarati) Food and Lose Weight

A few of you have asked me about how to eat Gujarati food, which is Indian and vegetarian, and lose weight. This is mainly for people who cook at home because restaurant Indian food is usually North Indian or South Indian.  Full disclosure I don’t regularly cook Gujarati food.  I asked my mom, Massi (aunt), and a couple of friends for help with this post.

Food Ratios

Gujarati food tends to be healthy already, so if you’re having trouble losing weight you need to change your ratio of roti, rice and protein (dhal, lentils, chickpeas, etc) to vegetables. When I was growing up my plate looked like 25% wheat roti, 25% white rice, 25% vegetable shaaks, and 25% dhal (protein).

To lose weight, you need to increase the ratio of vegetables on your plate. Your plate needs to be closer to 25% rice or roti, 50% vegetable shaaks, and 25% dhal (protein). Gradually increase the amount of vegetable shaak and/or salad you’re having to make up 50% of your meal. Any vegetable shaak will help except for potatoes and corn shaaks. Potatoes and corn are not as beneficial for weight loss because they’re moderate in glycemic index.

Another option is if you’re making something like handvo or muthia you can add more vegetables, like spinach or zucchini, to the actual mix.

Add More Protein If You’re Still Hungry

If you’re still feeling hungry after changing the ratio of your meal to 50% vegetables try switching to more foods that are lower in glycemic index and higher in protein to your meal. 

Here are some options:

  1. Switching your vegetable shaaks to ones that are higher in protein like peas, broccoli, and spinach shaaks.

  2. Using higher protein flours that are lower in glycemic index such as almond flour.

  3. Adding a handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts, or soy nuts to your meal.

The Types of Fat You Cook With

When you’re looking at what to cook with the type of fat matters. Your goal is to cook with something low in saturated fat and trans fatty acids and high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids. It’s best to use oils from fruits, seeds, and nuts like canola oil, soybean oil, and olive oil. Canola oil is likely the easiest to cook Gujarati food with. This means to avoid using butter and ghee which are higher in unhealthy saturated fats. Also, avoid using vanaspati or margarine which tend to be higher in trans fatty acids.

On a side note, not all things high in saturated fat are bad for you, for example, avocado, just as all things low in saturated fat are not necessarily good for you. However, currently, there are no clear medical studies in humans showing that butter, ghee, vanaspati, or margarine are beneficial for weight loss and your overall health.

Make It Into Habit

Some studies say it takes sixty-six days to form a habit, so about two months. Ask your family that eats with you to change how they eat too. This will make it easier for you to develop the habit of eating healthier.

If your family doesn’t want to change how they eat try making it a 60-day challenge. You can give your family members a prize or reward at the end of 60 days for eating healthy with you. Think of this as an investment in your health. It’s worth giving out prizes to your family if it helps you lose weight.

Want to lose weight with science-backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

What to Eat at a BBQ or Picnic When You’re Trying to Lose Weight

I hope you’re surviving the heat, it’s been up to 100 degrees here in NYC. You may have a lot of outdoor events like BBQs, picnics, and festivals to go to. Here’s how to eat summer food and still lose weight.


At outdoor events like BBQs, water is your best option. After that beer, wine or diet soda, are your best options because they have little to no sugar. Lemonade, sangria, and anything fruity will usually have a lot of sugar in it. Although it tastes like it would be healthy because there’s fruit involved, it’s not. Also, watch out for ciders as they may have sugar in them as well.


Your best option is green vegetables like kale salads, grilled asparagus, etc. Avoid anything creamy like potato salads, coleslaw, and spinach and artichoke dip. These usually have mayo or cheese in them which can be high in saturated fat which will not help you lose weight.

The next best options are corn tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes. Corn and potato are about equal, they’re both moderate range in the glycemic index assuming they’re prepared the same way. Because they’re moderate glycemic index they’re so-so for losing weight, so it’s important not to overeat them. Try to stick to one serving, which is roughly what you can fit in one hand.

The worst thing is cheese dip because it’s high in saturated fat and there are no vegetable benefits. Although I love cheese dip, there’s not really anything redeeming about it, so stay away from it if you’re trying to lose weight.

From the Grill

At BBQs kebabs and skewers, vegetable or meat, are the best options. They’re grilled, and there are no bread products involved. This isn’t a no carb diet, but realistically you’ll probably get enough carbs from snacking and dessert that you should try to skip carbs with the main meal.

Hot dogs, veggie burgers, and meat burgers are only a good option if you can eat them without the bun. Buns generally are made from white bread and high in glycemic index, so eating them won’t help you lose weight. Skipping the bun can be hard to do if you’re standing and eating and depending on your utensil situation this may not be possible. But if you can skip the bread than this could be a good option too.

As condiments go try to switch out sweet condiments, like ketchup. Instead use regular mustard, Tabasco sauce, or Cholula Hot Sauce. Sriracha depends on the manufacturer, some bottles say no sugar, some say they have 1 gram of sugar per serving, but it’s still usually less than ketchup (4 grams of sugar per serving in Heinz). If you’re having sugar, you shouldn’t waste it on ketchup it’s just a condiment, it’s not worth it, save it for dessert.


Fresh fruit obviously and also if it’s available. At BBQs and other outdoor events, you’ll usually want something cold for dessert. The next best option is fruit popsicles which have sugar but typically little to no saturated fat.

Plain gelato is probably your next best option as it usually has less saturated fat than ice cream.  However, once you add baked products like cookies, to it this usually adds saturated fat, so gelato without any add-ins is best. Ice cream, pies, and cake are all generally high in sugar and saturated fat, so avoid them.

If you want to lose weight, you have to make changes somewhere, and dessert is one of the best places because you can cut sugar and saturated fat by switching your dessert.

Hope you have a week filled with healthy food choices!

Want to lose weight with science-backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.
P.S. Wondering what the Nordic Diet is? Watch my one minute recap here.


Is Your Hair Loss from Dieting?

Is Your Diet Causing Your Hair Loss?

A lot of you have asked me about hair loss or hair thinning and what could be causing it. First, I think you should always talk to a dermatologist to see if there’s a medical reason for your hair loss. However, if you’ve noted hair loss within 1-2 years of trying to lose weight or changing your diet, it could be related.

Some Weight Loss Diets Can Lead to Hair Loss

Hair loss can occur when you don’t get enough proteins, minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids.  So if you’re on a weight loss diet where you’re restricting healthy foods, it could lead you to have hair loss. This could include a lot of different diets such as ketogenic, no or low carb diets, calorie restriction diets, and intermittent fasting diets among many others. Basically, any diet that has you cutting back on fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins or healthy grains.

Is This Really True?

The studies I could find about this are limited, but if you haven’t been able to find any other cause for your hair loss, it’s worth considering.

According to the studies I could find for healthy hair your diet should contain protein, healthy low glycemic index carbohydrates, vitamins (including vitamin C, B group, and A), and minerals (including zinc, iron, copper, selenium, silicate, magnesium and calcium). Before you run to GNC or Amazon and buy all these supplements, consider that the supplements may not work. As they note in this dermatology journal article trying supplements for vitamin, mineral, or protein deficiencies doesn’t seem to be effective for hair loss reversal. In some people it even made their hair loss worse.

What Can You Do About It?

If your hair loss is concerning to you it may be worth trying to change your diet. Obviously, the most effective thing to do would be to add back in whatever food you took out of your diet. This doesn’t mean add back cupcakes and cookies. It means add back the healthy food you took out. However, it’s possible this could cause you to gain the weight you lost. You have to decide if the hair loss is concerning enough for you to take this risk.

This is how you could try to add back in some of the healthy food you took out while trying to minimize the related weight gain:

  1. Try adding back the food you took out slowly, for example, one serving per day.
  2. If you’re on a diet that restricts the amount of food you’re eating (fasting or calorie restriction) try adding back one serving of low saturated fat protein first, for example, almonds, walnuts, and soy nuts. If you think protein is not the problem, then add back one serving of raw vegetables.
  3. If you’re on a ketogenic or low/no carb diet, then try adding back one serving of carbs that are lower in glycemic index.
  4. Don’t forget about cheat meals as I mentioned in the guide you got when you signed up for the If We Were Family email list. This will help you stay in a cycle of losing weight and keep your weight loss from plateauing.
How Long Does It Take For Your Hair to Grow Back?

Let’s say you start eating the healthy foods you took out of your diet; you might be wondering how soon your hair will start growing back. This depends on your hair and your hair follicle cycles. It could be anywhere from a few months to a few years. It’s very person to person dependent so try to be patient if your hair is important to you.

Want to learn how to lose weight with science-backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight With Science-Backed Advice and start losing weight this month.

Lose Weight Eating Mexican Food

How to Eat Mexican Food and Lose Weight

Do you love Mexican food? You’re not alone, last year Americans ate over 4.5 billion tacos!

I’ve been a fan of Mexican food my whole life. I even worked at Taco Bell when I was in high school. Not surprisingly my favorite thing to eat at Taco Bell was the Choco Taco ice cream taco. It’s not Mexican or healthy, but it’s delicious.

How You Can Make Mexican Food Healthier to Lose Weight

Below are a few options on how to make Mexican restaurant food healthier to help you lose weight. Try starting with one option and then turn it into a habit. This is so you’re making gradual changes because you still want to enjoy eating out. The goal is not to go out to eat and then feel deprived that you’re not eating anything you like.

Drinks at Mexican Restaurants

Sweet beverages whether that’s Mexican Coke or mango margaritas can increase your sugar consumption. Having more sugar may make you feel like eating more food for the rest of the meal. Cutting back on sugar can help you lose weight.

  1. For margaritas try switching from a frozen fruity margarita to a fruity margarita on the rocks. Usually, frozen margaritas have more syrup which can add up to extra sugar for you. Then eventually transition to a regular margarita on the rocks which will have even less sugar. It’ll take time to get used to the way regular margaritas taste if you always get fruity drinks. Give yourself time to make this transition. If you go out for Mexican food every week give yourself 3 months. If you go out for Mexican food less than every week try it for 6 months.
  2. Many authentic Mexican restaurants have Mexican Coke. Although it’s refreshing it also has a lot of sugar, try switching to Diet Coke. It’s a relatively easy way to cut back on sugar.
The Basket of Tortilla Chips

Chips and salsa are my favorite part of Mexican food. Unfortunately, restaurant tortilla chips are frequently fried and/or made from white flour. If you’re like me, you can eat at least one basket of chips by yourself. If that’s the case, you’re going to eat enough carbs for the whole meal before you even order anything.

You have a few options:

    1. No chips and salsa- this is a major life choice if you can do it, good for you!
    2. Order something carb-less for the main entree – this isn’t a carb-free diet, but one basket of chips is enough carbs for the whole meal.
    3. Order something with carbs and gradually stop eating the carbs.  For example, let’s say you normally order 3 tacos. Start out by eating 2 tacos and just the filling of the 3rd taco no tortilla. Gradually transition to eating 1 taco and 2 taco fillings. Eventually, your goal is to eat 3 taco fillings and no tortillas. This is what I do.
Freshly Made Flour Tortillas

If you’re having trouble eating fewer carbs, try switching from white flour tortillas to corn tortillas. This is a good option because it helps you cut back on high glycemic index carbs, eating healthier carbs can help you lose weight too.

Want to learn how to lose weight with science backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

Can You Eat Dessert Everyday and Still Lose Weight?

Why Do You Crave Sweet Food After Eating a Meal? Part Two

Last week I talked about one reason you may crave sugar after you eat. A second common reason is that you’ve gotten into the habit of thinking of dessert as a special treat after lunch and dinner.

For a lot of people, sugar affects the reward center of their brain. It causes dopamine to release in your brain. So if you feel like eating dessert at the end of a meal makes you feel good, you may be right. If you’ve been doing this for many years, you may have gotten used to this reward feeling at the end of a meal.


Can You Eat Dessert Every Day and Still Lose Weight?

Yes, you can, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat sugar at all. But, if you’re having trouble losing weight then switching to lower sugars desserts can help you lose weight. You can try switching to artificially sweetened food, but it’s usually best to try to cut down the amount of sugar you eat per meal. This is so you can get used to the idea mentally.

This is a hard habit to break especially if you’ve had it for many years. Trying to quit cold turkey will take a lot of willpower and may end up leading you to overindulge in other foods or drinks to make up for cutting out dessert.


How to Change Your Dessert Habit

Instead, try to gradually cut back so you don’t have a rebound effect because you feel like you’ve lost something. It’s important not to associate negative feelings with cutting back on sweet food. Otherwise, it will always feel like a struggle.

There are two ways to do this, if one way doesn’t work try the other way. Try it for at least 2 weeks. Let’s say you eat Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream for dessert after dinner.

1. Gradually cut portion sizes. For example switch from 1 cup of Half Baked ice cream (54 grams of sugar) to ¾ cup to ½ cup to ¼ cup (13.5 grams of sugar).

This requires measuring honestly and some amount of self-control. If you’re having an extra bad day or an extra good day you may end up eating the whole pint of ice cream. That’s what happens to me. It’ll work best if you ask someone who lives with you to be your accountability partner, like your significant other. Otherwise, the second option may be easier to maintain.

2. Transition the type of dessert to something with less sugar. Transition to a flavor with less sugar, like Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Milk and Cookies (30 grams of sugar 1 cup). Eventually, switch to a ½ cup of lower sugar ice cream and a ½ cup of fruit or granola. Continue to transition to more fruit or granola and less ice cream. Eventually, you can even transition to 1 cup of fruit, like strawberries (7 grams of sugar), or 1 cup of granola (15 grams of sugar) by itself.

The second option may work better long term. This is because over time you’ll get used to the idea that you’re the type of person that eats fruit or granola for dessert. Then one day you may even stop keeping ice cream and other high sugar dessert foods in your house regularly.  

Then when you have an extra bad day or an extra good day you won’t have easy access to ice cream. You’ll have to go out and buy it. This is important because by the time you get to the store you may decide you don’t need to eat ice cream after all. It gives you the time to stop and think about what you’re doing.


Why is This Important to You?

Switching to lower sugar foods for dessert will help you lose weight and help prevent diabetes among other things. Over 400 million people in the world have diabetes. The rate of diabetes is on the rise in children and teenagers too. Your kids, nieces, nephews, and grandkids are watching you and picking up your habits. If you’re passing on your habits wouldn’t it be great if you were passing on healthy habits? You’re all influencers in some way to someone.

Want to learn how to lose weight with science backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.