Yes, the debate of Cheat Meals & Days has been done a million times by a million different people but I thought I should give my take on the topic so here we go!
The first thing I always tell people who ask me if they should have cheat meals is to ask yourself, why do you need a cheat? I’ve grown to kind of hate that term when dieting because I feel like it does way more bad than it does good for us mentally. It’s easy to overeat and even easier to justify it when you start only looking forward to your cheat meals. When you repeatedly do anything, you’re going to create a habit…and this would definitely be a bad mental habit to create!
Regardless of my thoughts on the term, cheat meals are gonna happen so here’s my approach to them:
4 Tips To Cheat Meals
Have limits. Just because you’re allowing yourself to cheat doesn’t mean you should eat a whole tub of ice cream for breakfast. Think of cheating as having 1-2 serving(s) of something you typically wouldn’t eat. Cheats can be healthy for you mentally if look at them the right way but if you don’t have control over them you can create some seriously unhealthy habits. Stick to the limits you set.
Eat slow. Enjoy what you eat and let it digest while doing so rather than playing human vacuum. The slower you eat, the less likely you are to keep cheating. You’re not Matt Stonie and you’re probably not practicing for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Cheat healthier. Protein cookies, cheesecakes, pizza, burgers, mac & cheese…there’s something for everyone and these are all way more macro friendly than their counterparts. Chances are you’ll like them just as much or at least enough to kill your cravings. Don’t be scared to try healthier alternatives!
Try and fit it into your plan. The best way to cheat is to technically not cheat at all, right? Well if you find a way to incorporate your cravings into your daily calorie and macro allowance, you’ll reach your goals even faster! This is almost always what I try to follow.
With that said, keep it simple and understand that cheat meals can quickly do more harm than good if you don’t have them under control. If you do happen to overeat just reset the next day and get back on routine. Don’t stress out over them, don’t overthink them, don’t make them up by compensating with more exercise, and don’t be too hard on yourself! The second you start approaching cheat meals this way is the second you’ll start creating bad mental habits with food.
“Try and fit it into your plan.” is excellent advice. In fact this whole article is excellent advice.
If you have to “cheat”, then you’re doing something wrong. I’m not perfect. I snag my kids’ candy sometimes; however, I don’t “need” to cheat. If you feel the compulsion to cheat, then you’re probably not living a sustainable lifestyle, for you. Try to adjust your eating plan, not living on a cheating/complying diet. Using myself as the control group for my scientific analysis, the candy that I snagged is not a “cheat” it’s “25 carbs”, and I make a mental note to try harder to dodge added sugars.
All of this is just my opinion. However, very few dieters see long-term success. If you’re in the “diet” mentality, then the odds that you won’t yo-yo are very slim.