by Marc A.
So you just started a new diet and exercise plan and you're all excited about it, right? The first day or even the first week goes pretty well but then you find yourself craving all the sinful things you gave up when you first started this lifestyle change. What happens then? You hold yourself to such a high standard of strictness, you end up giving in, and in turn, giving up by binging. Then the guilt sets in and you're back where you started. Sound familiar?
Well let me tell you this...it's OK! You don't have to be perfect. It's okay to cheat sometimes. Cheat meals are important and can beneficial if done the right way.
Let's explore, shall we, reasons why planned cheat meals are important to any lifestyle change.
1. Cheat meals make eating healthy easier. Life is short but it's also long and you should not be forced to be deprived of the things you love. This doesn't mean overindulge. As always, moderation is the key. Cheat meals work best when planned. For instance, I choose Friday nights and Saturday nights to have a cheat meal. The rest of the week, I strive to eat as perfect as possible, meaning no fatty foods, no liquid calories, no sweets, etc. During my cheat meals though, I eat a meal and dessert of my choosing, WHATEVER I want. My cheat meal is my time to eat the way I want to. When you plan you cheat meals, it makes it easier to say no the rest of the week. When your body is craving that burger, and you tell it no and it asks, "Well when do I get to eat it?", you have an answer. "We can have it on _______." Psychologically, knowing when you can and will tends to keep the beast at bay until the time comes.
2. Cheat meals help to spike your metabolism. After a long week of limiting your caloric intake, a cheat meal due to the increased calories can give your metabolism a much needed jump start. Eating 1800 calories a day, then one day throwing in an extra 500-600 calories in one meal will shock your body and make it work harder. So the meals you eat the next day may get burned faster than normal. The key here is to no overdo it on your cheat meal. Eat 4 slices of pizza not a whole pie. Eat 1 or 2 slices of cake, not the whole cake. The key is to indulge not devour.
3. Cheat meals improve your overall mood and attitude. Let's face it. Sometimes dieting can suck. We have those moments where we just can't stand it. We're tired of salads. We're tired of measuring food. We're tired of being healthy. Sounds crazy, but we've all felt it. Planned cheat meals are just the solution. They're that break from the week where you can just dash all rules to the side and just enjoy a sinful meal. Not only that, you can enjoy it guilt free because you planned for it.
If you just began a new lifestyle change or have a lot to lose, you can do a cheat day if you wish but cheat days can easily unravel a week of hard work so I recommend a cheat meal or 2 per week. Enough to see the above effects but when kept within reason, you should expect continued progress. Don't be afraid to cheat or indulge, just do your best to plan your cheats and eat the rest of the week accordingly.
So, what's your cheat meal this week?