Can I have cheat meals? If yes, when?

We Hear it All the Time

For people that follow a healthy nutrition regimen know all too well about those days that sometimes we need one of those “cheat meals”. Sometimes when life gets in the way and there isn’t much of an option to find a healthy alternative, we tend to just say “This will be my cheat meal”, then I can get right back to it on the next day.” The only thing is for most people when they tend to think like this and feel so guilty about having that one meal, they tend to just continue to fall off because it feels like they failed and give up. It becomes a never ending cycle and can be detrimental psychologically. What if I were to tell you, that you can almost literally in a sense, have your cake and eat it too? Then still continue to hit your goals? Crazy right? Let's look at this for a second.

What is a Cheat Meal?

The term “cheat meal”, derives from the gym culture as having something that isn’t super healthy and that’s not on your diet regimen. Then if we do have it, we lose all of our gains! Even though there is some truth to that, we won’t lose all of our progress unless we continue to fall down that path. If all we do is strictly eat super super healthy without allowing ourselves to still enjoy some of our favorite treats here and there, it can start to damage us mentally and if left unchecked from the amount of stress we can put ourselves under for trying to do it so long, can actually be counterproductive for our health physically. This isn’t saying whenever we crave something we give in, however, if after a while we still have that particular craving not just in that moment of being hungry, thirsty, or emotional, allow yourself to have some of it. It’s okay!

Schedule and Modified

Some ways we can feel not so guilty of having something we enjoy is by scheduling around that particular meal. For example, if we are going out to dinner with family or friends let's say for a birthday and we know that the food on the menu isn’t the best, the week of or maybe even two weeks before, make sure to have the nutrition a little stricter so when that day comes, we can sit down and have fun with the family without feeling like we are out of the loop. That being said, that’s not saying have so much bad food and drinks we can’t move afterwards. Still be mindful. This all applies as well if we are just wanting to have a takeout meal on a Friday night.

Another way that helps is by having a “healthier” version of a particular food. For example, who doesn’t love pizza? I know I do personally. Instead of buying it, even though it's convenient, try making your own version of it that has better ingredients than the ones most restaurants use. Some benefits of this is:

  • 1. We know what’s in it

  • 2. We get the satisfaction of having our favorite foods without feeling as guilty

  • 3. Learning better cooking skills

Easier said than done, yes but definitely worth it.

Quick Summary

Bottom Line, with the mindset of having a “cheat meal” could possibly do more harm than good. If we have a craving for something for a longer period of time than in just that particular moment of being hungry, thirsty, or emotional, allow yourself to enjoy it and get back on track afterwards. Just don’t overdo it and be mindful. Try scheduling around a meal that may not be the best or a part of our healthier lifestyle or even make a version of the food yourself. We may find out we enjoy it just as much if not more than we thought we would.

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