I'm a big proponent of taking the principles of the Medifast diet and tweaking them so that the diet works better for you. Sometimes, I have people ask me if I'm encouraging dieters to cheat or to not follow directions. I like to think that I'm not. My reason for encouraging people to make this diet work for them is that I believe that the number one reason that diets fail is because people stop using them or give up. So my whole goal is to make the diet work better while also making sure that it's still effective enough that you'll stick with it.

To that end, if adding a little fat free cheese to the chili or adding some diet whipped cream to the shakes inspires you to consume them instead of getting bored, getting discouraged, or stopping the diet altogether, then to me, the end justifies the means. In the following article, I'll try to clarify what I mean (and what I do not mean) when I encourage you to make Medifast work for you.

What I Really Mean (And Do not Mean) When I Suggest That You Make Medifast Work For You: Because I sometimes have people question me on what I mean by this, I want to first clarify what I do not mean. I'm not suggesting that you regularly cheat on your diet. I'm not suggesting that you eat high calorie fast or convenient foods or take in twice as many calories, carbs, or fats than the guidelines suggest. Because if you did this, you would not get the results that you wanted and you would likely stop the diet anyway.

Those are the last things that I want. My goal in encouraging you to make Medifast work for you is that you find that combination of taking liberties with the foods and still having the results that you want. Because this is the place where you're going to be encouraged and happy without too much of a sacrifice so that you will keep going and you keep losing weight.

When I encourage you to make this diet your own, what I really mean is that I do not need to think it's a crime when you freeze the shakes, top them with a few shaved peanuts and eat them like sundae. I've also been known to combine the Medifast eggs with some veggies and to then place those foods between a fat free tostadada to make a quesadilla. The same holds true for burritos, wraps, and melts.

However, having said that, I have to stress that I am always careful to use fat and sugar free diet products and I did not start taking these liberties until I was sure that I was in ketosis and already losing weight at a decent clip. I also do not see any problem with having your lean and green meal for breakfast or lunch if you feel like it. I'm not shy about eating out on this diet as long as I'm careful with my choices. I've been known to use frozen or convenience foods for my lean and green meal, but again I'm very careful to read the labels. Nothing says that your lean and green meal has to come fresh from a health food store. You do not want to make this so difficult or expensive that you are going to get discouraged.

If there are days when I do not want one of the Medifast meals straight up, I give myself permission to play with them a little bit. Now, I'm not going to add in anything that will make my intake of calories and carbohydrates contradictory with the diet. I make sure that nothing I do is likely to bump me out of ketosis for the long term. That's not to say I do not cheat from time to time. I do. But that's not the end of the world either because, in my opinion, it's the cumulative efforts that matter and that build up over time. I've found that real success on this diet comes over time. It's generally a long haul and a life style change, especially if you want it to last. So anything that you can do to enjoy it more (while mostly staying within the rules) is in my opinion, fair game and even advisable.

I know that there are people who disagree with me on this. If you feel uncomfortable tweaking the foods, then know that many people eat the meals exactly as they come and many are happy and successful with this. Every one has to find their own comfort zone. But to me, success happens when you can find what works while at the same time finding a way to make the diet as enjoyable and hassle free as it can possibly be.