Recently I wrote about how I make my meal plan work in my busy schedule. In that discussion I mentioned the concept of a cheat meal and today I'd like to expand on that idea.
Why It May be Okay to Cheat
A cheat meal or reward meal deviates from a "healthy" meal, is usually high in calories, and quite "unhealthy." While it's certainly unadvisable to eat fast food and junk food routinely, some people find it helpful to feast on the bad stuff in order to stay on track with their normal diet. Keep in mind that a diet in this context doesn't necessarily mean a specific weight loss eating program, but simply refers to the food you eat on a daily basis.
Many healthy types reject the term cheating because of the negative connotation, so terms like "reward" or "treat" are often substituted. Either way, the principles are typically the same.
The philosophy behind these terms is that when you allow yourself to stray from your diet occasionally, it can relieve the stresses caused by a restrictive nutritional plan. This "release valve" if you will, helps you to stick to an otherwise good system.
The reasoning is here sound. The discipline required for a strict dietary regimen is a huge reason why many would-be healthy eaters fail when dieting. With so many temptations around us, giving in once in awhile can be crucial to maintaining your sanity.
How To Get Away With It
A cheat meal is not an excuse to go crazy and destroy all the hard work you've done in your workouts. So here are some guidelines for being naughty, but still being responsible:
It's a cheat MEAL, not a cheat DAY - Don't spend 12 hours binging on fatty foods. Instead, pick one dinner or lunch to satiate the craving for your favorite treat.
Schedule ahead - Set a time in your week for diet rule-breaking and stick to it! A meal plan that INCLUDES one meal off the normal menu is a good one. Once or twice a week should be enough satisfy your lust for donuts.
Hopefully you can see why cheating isn't always so bad. As long as you remember to keep to the guidelines above, you'll be able to avert a dieting disaster.
We all need a little change of pace sometimes, so give yourself a break. You deserve it. #treatyoself