Is It Ok To Have A “Cheat” Meal?
- The Short Answer….. Yes
It’s absolutely OK to have a cheat meal! If the rest of your diet plan is tight, there’s nothing wrong with cutting loose once or twice a week. In fact, the shift in calories may help you avoid plateaus. Also, it keeps you sane. After all, life is too short not to eat the occasional donut. Remembering you are not on a “diet” but eating healthy will help..
The Long Answer:
Now that you’ve stopped twerking for joy around the room and returned to your screen, I’ll explain why the occasional cheat meal is OK. As I said, they are a good way to ward off potential plateaus. They also break up the stress commonly associated with beginning a new healthy eating lifestyle and keep you on track.
Cheat meals fight plateaus
When you begin a clean or healthy eating program, you will initially lose weight especially if exercise is involved. Your calorie intake will be lower than what you have been used to..
To deal with this stress, your body will sometimes slow down its metabolism and hold on to emergency fuel stores (body fat) to survive. We call this “starvation mode” and because you’re not burning fat, it creates a weight-loss plateau. While the obvious solution is to increase your calories in general, cheat meals are also effective because they give your body a little “feast” break in the middle of the “famine” to convince it to keep burning those love handles away.
In fact, we often suggest people zigzag their calories from a large deficit to a slight surplus over the course of a week to break this type of plateau. A cheat meal or two, provided the rest of your eating is extremely clean, can create such a zigzag. Also considered when plateauing is The 3 Day Refresh or Ultimate Reset Program*
– Ultimate Reset
Feeling tired and sluggish, give yourself a comprehensive inner-body tune-up. In just 21 days, the Ultimate Reset™ can help you gently restore your body to its optimal “factory settings,” to help you have more energy and greater focus, enjoy better digestion, lose weight, and reclaim your overall health.*
– 3 Day Refresh
If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, feel lighter and more energized, and jump-start a new healthy-eating lifestyle, then the 3-Day Refresh is for you. This 3-day program of specially formulated shakes, easy-to-prepare clean meals, and healthy snacks has been scientifically designed to help you break the cycle of bad eating habits, lose weight, detoxify your body, and dramatically improve the way you feel—without starving.
(For more information on the 3 Day Refresh or the Ultimate Reset, please feel free to contact me)
Cheat meals strengthen willpower.
In their excellent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Dr. Roy Baumeister and science writer John Tierney discuss the concept of “decision fatigue,” the idea that willpower, just like our muscles, can give out after a while. “When asked whether making decisions would deplete their willpower and make them vulnerable to temptation, most people say no. They don’t realize that decision fatigue helps explain why ordinary, sensible people get angry at their colleagues and family, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket, and can’t resist the car dealer’s offer to rustproof their new sedan.”
Think of cheat meals the same way you think of recovery days. They give your willpower a chance to rest and restore, reducing the chance that you’ll fall off the wagon in a bigger way.
Cheat meals relieve stress.
Survival mode suggests cheat meals relieve physical stress. Decision fatigue suggests they relieve mental stress. There’s also a third type of stress they relieve: emotional stress. Turning around your diet can be really hard. Sometimes, eating clean means you’re walking away from foods you’ve looked to your whole life for comfort, nourishment, celebration, and security. The fact that they are absolute crap and they were slowly killing you is beside the point. They still have an enormous amount of emotional resonance. As long as you don’t think it’ll cause a relapse, there’s no reason to completely walk away from cake on your birthday or a great dessert after a healthy dinner out with friends or your significant other.
What if I don’t want a cheat meal?
Although I’ve put it out there that’s it’s ok to have a “cheat” meal, I don’t want to strong-arm you into succumbing to temptation. If you’re keeping it 100% clean and that is working for you, go for it. For some people cold turkey is the only way to avoid stumbling into bad habits. And that is awesome… Especially for beginners.. The more you eat healthy, the more it becomes a lifestyle.
As you enjoy your cheat meals, pay attention to how your body reacts. You may actually see or feel that you are not liking your “cheat” meal as much as you used to.
So if you think it’s right for you, go ahead and have a cheat meal. Anticipate it before you eat it, enjoy it while it’s happening, and own it once it’s done. Then get back on your horse in the morning.
For more information on healthy eating options, how to eat clean or begin a nutritional and wellness program that teaches healthy eating as well as portion control, please contact me or follow my blog for up to date Health and Wellness information. I would love to hear from you!
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