The Cheat Meal: It’s decadent. It’s dangerous. Desired. And maybe even… dreaded? Do you find yourself dieting like crazy and then going wild on cheat meals or cheat days until you ultimately feel groggy or sick from overeating? If you answered yes, you need to read this article.
You may be surprised to learn that the “right way” to have a cheat day or cheat meal is to actually never have one at all. No, I’m not talking about eating healthy 100% of the time and never indulging in your favorite not-so-healthy foods. I’m talking about eating in moderation and finding balance in the quality of your calories throughout each and every day.
When we deprive ourselves of the foods we love (even the unhealthy ones), both our bodies and minds have a difficult time dealing with their absence. You may notice that when you give up sugar or refined carbs cold, you experience intensified cravings for those very foods than ever before, and when you finally give in to eating them, you eat way too much. That’s because your brain tells your body to stock up on those quick-energy sugars and carbs since it’s not sure when it will have access to those foods again. On a conscious level, you may be telling yourself “I’ll just have one or two more cookies, since after today, I’m done.”
That is the wrong way to “cheat.” Also, if you do refer to certain foods as “cheat” foods or “bad” foods, stop doing that, too. In order to really improve your overall health, you must realize that there is no food (not a single food!) that is all good or all bad. Foods are much more complex than that. They have an infinite number of different chemical makeups, and frankly, most foods are not wholly good and do not contain the exact combination of nutrients that your body is in need of.
So instead of focusing on eating particular foods all the time that—in your eyes—are acceptable, focus on eating a great range of different foods, including the occasional not-so-healthy ones you love! This is the best way steadily work towards an overall picture of health because you will get a variety of different nutrients in your body, but you will not deprive yourself of the foods you love, either. As a bonus, when you do eat those less healthy foods, you can do so without feeling guilty because you know that you have a diet that mostly serves to fuel your body, and that you are allowed to indulge sometimes too. You will never find yourself half a dozen donuts deep if you just let yourself have one everyone once in a while. Cheat meals be gone!