Cheat Meals: Friends Or Foes?
Most of us know what a cheat meal is. Whenever we follow a specific diet and loosen up the reigns to indulge in something we know we shouldn’t, that is often referred to as a cheat meal.
But are cheat meals a bad thing? Or is there an actual benefit to indulging in some of our favorite foods from time to time?
Let’s dive in.
Consistency Over Perfection
Could cheat meals be your ticket to long-term success? Contrary to the notion that treats are health-sabotaging, studies suggest that allowing for the occasional deviation might be the key to building a healthy and sustainable approach to nutrition.
This particular study compared two groups – those on a standard diet and those following the same diet with a weekly indulgence where they doubled their caloric intake (aka a “cheat meal”).
The results? The “cheat meal” group found it easier to maintain motivation and self-control around food while losing a similar amount of weight to the non-indulgent group.
Over-restrictive meal plans tend to backfire, making it challenging for people to stick to their plans.
For anyone who’s attempted a diet cutting out entire food groups, you may have experienced brief success followed by lasting frustration. What’s life without the occasional carbs, cheese, or chocolate-covered almonds?
Now, we aren’t saying you NEED to incorporate indulgent foods or cheat meals into your diet to lose weight. Food quality is incredibly important, and focusing on whole foods for most of your food choices is what everyone should aim for.
But just remember that long-term progress requires consistency, not perfection. The occasional cheat meal (keyword — occasional) could be the secret to finally seeing the progress you want to see.
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ONE THING TO TRY THIS WEEK
Plan A Cheat Meal
This week, give a planned “cheat meal” a try and see how it impacts the consistency you can build throughout the rest of the week. The idea isn’t to create an unhealthy habit but to see if giving yourself some dietary flexibility could enhance your relationship with food and potentially aid your progress toward your goals.
Here’s how to do it:
- Plan Your Indulgence: Choose a meal this week where you’ll allow yourself a treat. It could be your favorite restaurant dish, a homemade comfort meal, or a tempting dessert you’ve had your eye on. Remember, this is a planned indulgence, not an impromptu binge.
- Enjoy Mindfully: When the time comes, enjoy every bite. Engage all your senses. This is about satisfaction, not guilt.
- Resume Your Regular Healthy Diet: The day following your indulgence, return to your normal, healthy diet. There’s no need for extreme compensation — just get back on track.
This experiment is not a pass for regular, mindless overeating. It’s a way to learn to enjoy your favorite foods sometimes without derailing your progress. The objective is to maintain a balanced, flexible approach to eating that supports both your physical health and your happiness.
NUTRITION + ACCOUNTABILITY
Open Spots for 1-on-1 Nutrition Coaching!
One way to get the most out of your efforts when it comes to nutrition is to work with a coach that can help you come up with a plan and hold you accountable.
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