For some, ignorance is bliss! If you are one of those people who has a Big Mac, with an extra large side of fries, washes it down with a super sized chocolate shake and finishes off your cheat meal with a dozen cookies, then you may want to stop reading now. But if you are a person who wants to make educated decisions when it comes to health and weight loss, then read on.
When you diet and exercise 7 days a week, it is 100% fine to integrate a cheat meal into your week. Cheat meals actually help shake up your hormones, curb cravings, and boost thyroid function, which inevitably helps you lose more calories in the long run. Just like your body needs rest days from working out, your diet needs a cheat meal, a reprieve from dieting. But don’t go overboard!
Here are a few basic cheat meal rules you should follow so you don’t complete derail your diet.
Cheat Meal Rule #1
You get ONE cheat meal per week; not a cheat day or a cheat week! I am sorry if you want to hurt me after hearing this, but science backs me up. The purpose of the cheat meal is to satiate the craving for the food you can’t eat daily. It gives you a sense of hope and longevity if you know that you aren’t completely purging the yummy, evil stuff from your life forever. People are more likely to quit a diet if they have to discipline themselves for long periods of time without reinforcement or little breaks.
Cheat Meal Rule #2
Don’t over do it. Be smart. If you gorge yourself with high fat, high sugar foods, it is going to wreck your insulin and serve as a thorn in your flesh when you head back to your diet routine. Make sure the cheat meal consists of a higher carbohydrate and calorie count than your normal diet meals. Make sure it is still a well-rounded meal so that you are satiated and satisfied. Meals like steak and veggies, pasta with protein or protein-filled enchiladas are good cheat meal choices. While eating a whole pie may be enjoyable in the moment, you will live to regret it soon after.
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Cheat Meal Rule #3
Plan your cheat meal out and set a special time for it. If your girlfriend’s birthday is on a Tuesday and you normally choose Saturday as your cheat meal, then switch it so you can help her celebrate. If you know you will be going out with friends, then save your cheat meal for that evening. Maybe you have the night to yourself, and you want to eat a nice big plate of pasta in bed. Just make sure that it is a special event so you can really get the full benefit out of the meal. Take your time eating so you can really take in the whole experience. This will help you look forward to it each week instead of wasting it away.
Cheat Meal Rule #4
If you find that a cheat meal only makes you want to quit your diet more, then think about tweaking it a bit. Maybe instead of allowing yourself pizza or sweets, you may want to eat your normal diet food and add a piece of bread with it one night. The point of the cheat meal is not to make you fall off the wagon; it is to help you stay on it. Each person is different, and some do not have the motivation or discipline it takes to stay on a diet if you stray. If cheat meals are causing you to stumble, then ditch them.
No one is perfect, so designing a diet plan that requires you be 100% good is a sure fail. Yes, you can cheat, but only a little and you must be smart about it. Here’s to diet, exercise and a cheat meal from time to time!