If you ask a competitor about favorite cheat meals, you had better expect the person’s eyes to glaze over as he or she lovingly describes his or her most beloved foods. You may wonder if cheat meals are only incorporated into the lives of fitness people, but they actually serve a purpose for anyone who is committed to healthy eating. Perhaps you have just embarked on a healthy food regimen and are struggling a bit with it. When you incorporate one or two cheat meals into your plan each week you will boost your metabolism and foster a more balanced relationship with food.
Let’s face it. We are only human, and we carry our emotional relationship with food with us throughout our lives. If we were to practice a rigid adherence to a healthy meal plan without any fun meals, we would feel guilty if we were to ever indulge in a bad food in a moment of weakness. If we know that we are allowed such a fun meal (I prefer this terminology over “cheat” meal), we can rest in the comfort that it is acceptable and that there is no reason to feel guilty about consuming it. This also works nicely if you tend to go to events on the weekends and don’t want to be the stick-in-the-mud who can’t eat anything that is being served.
When you eat a more calorie controlled meal plan during the rest of the week, a fun meal will speed up your metabolism and satisfy cravings that have been accumulating during the week. I believe it is important to eat something you truly crave instead of doing a small cheat like a dinner roll with a chicken spinach salad. Have the two slices of pizza or the burger! Just make sure to eat an acceptable amount of food and don’t gorge yourself.
I am often asked by weight management patients if a cheat day or a cheat weekend is acceptable. My response is no, for the simple reason that this creates a slippery slope which causes many individuals to lose self-control and spiral into a guilt-ridden “I messed up so why stop now?” mentality. If it is too difficult to do one fun meal per week, incorporate two fun meals spaced by at least one day so that your body can recover.