You’ve made it your mission to finally and once and for all lose that stubborn belly, arm or back fat. Good for you, because weight loss is one of the hardest things to do. For every pound you lose, you deserve a pat on the back, and at the very least, an inner dialogue of positive reinforcement to keep you focused and determined for the coming weeks.

But like anything worth having, weight loss doesn’t come without a price. That “price” is giving up those carb-rich foods and desserts you have grown up loving and living with. So how do you keep the momentum going, and focus on continual weight loss? By a cheat day of course!

But before you dig into a carton of ice cream and load up on tacos from your favorite taco stand, think about your cheat day strategy and proceed with caution. Eat in moderation and be smart about what you really have to lose – or in this case, gain back.

Here are some of the best tips to apply to your cheat day, and how to do it as wisely as possible. Follow this short but to the point guide, and you’ll continue to lose weight, instead of jeopardize the hard work you’ve put into your diet thus far.

Prioritize What Food You Can’t Live Without (and Give Up the Rest!)

Some people think there is a loop hole with diets, and the hole being this – you can eat everything you want on a specified day of the week, and still continue to lose weight! While that’s a nice thing to believe, it is mostly a myth because the truth is, calories consumed – even on a cheat day – still count. If you don’t want to jeopardize your weight loss success thus far, allow yourself one cheat meal per week and say “adios!” to the rest.

Don’t look forward to every Saturday as the day you get to eat whatever you want from sunup to sundown. Don’t binge. And don’t totally let loose and go back to your old comfort eating habits for a 24 hour stretch. Instead, give yourself a treat of whatever meal it is you love most in the world – a piece of your mother’s lasagna, a cheeseburger, or fish tacos drizzled with homemade guacamole. The trick? Stop there. Don’t go for seconds, and don’t lick the plate clean.

Cheat With Moderation

As the rule goes with cocktails during happy hour or bright blue eye shadow, the same rule applies for your cheat meal – everything in moderation. Focus on the meaning behind your cheat meal, which is to reward yourself for the hard work and commitment to clean, healthy eating you accomplished during the week. You deserve a sweet treat or a comfort food, after all. Just apply this one trick to your cheat meal and you’ll stay on track: don’t stuff yourself to the brim. Instead, become pleasantly satisfied, and toss the rest of your meal in the trash, or hand it to the waiter. You’re done.

Stop Watching Cooking Channels on TV

Here’s the thing about those forbidden foods we love so much. When we break the promise we make to ourselves about that allotted one cheat meal a week, and splurge on fatty, greasy and sugary foods while watching TV late at night, we get mad. We gain weight. And we repeat the cycle over and over again.

When it comes to your cheat meal, eat it mindfully. That means turn off the TV (especially those cooking channels that make you want to continue eating while watching it) and focus on the feeling of being full and satisfied. That way, when you eat, you won’t have any distractions or associations to food causing you to overstuff yourself and unconsciously gain the weight back that you worked so hard to lose.

Your cheat meal is an important part of a healthy diet, and a successful weight loss plan. It keeps a reward system in place so that you can push through an otherwise lack of motivation throughout your week, and it allows you to feel that you’ve already succeeded.

Rewards are important, and even more important is “cheating” the right way – the smart way – and the best way possible. Do it correctly by following this guide, and staying committed to your big, life changing weight loss goals. And as you do, you won’t just feel like a million bucks – you’ll look like it too.