The famous “cheat meal” is something that we have been doing all the time, some people feel guilty about it, others don’t. The truth is that this has become a viral or new “fashion trend”, especially in recent times when people are more conscious of keeping up with their healthy eating habits. You can also hear a lot about this term among fitness addicts and sports athletes. But do you really know what is a “cheat meal”? Did you know that doing a “cheat meal” actually has some benefits for you? Well, you shouldn’t be worried about it if you are in the process of a healthy eating journey. I’ll tell you why.
The concept behind a “cheat meal”
A “cheat meal” is nothing more than a food that is usually out of our eating regime or the “norm”. It’s either a fast food or a high calorie meal which is loaded with fat or carbs. A hamburger, a pizza, coke, ice cream or pastries (cake) are some of the examples. When it comes to eating lifestyles, understanding that there must be a balance is essential. So, if you bear this in mind, knowing that it is completely ok to eat some of these, then your body can function correctly! Yes! Actually the body needs these types of foods.
Why eat “cheat meals”?
Well, as I mentioned, we actually need to consume these types of meals sparingly. Our body needs all the types of nutrients, including sugars and fats. We cannot depend only on greens or vegetables. It doesn’t mean that we will abuse with the consumption of “unhealthy” food. But even with our modern lifestyle and the fact that we are been bombarded with processed food plus having a social life, implies that we cannot avoid “cheating” altogether at some point.
The good news also, is that there are some great benefits of doing this:
- There is a great positive psychological effect in our mind, as these foods increase the production of hormones that cause saciety and pleasure. These are associated with happiness and “feeling good”.
- Cheat meals are part of our daily living, through social life (being part of celebrations, parties or other events).
- “Cheat meals” help us boost our metabolism. That’s right! As we see, it’s not always about eating green, but there is scientific evidence that shows an increase in metabolism and energy levels as a consequence of this. How? When we have a meal that is not within our normal regime, we “force” the body to work harder to burn those excess calories.
- If done correctly, “cheat meals” may help us in our weight control goals! It’s a matter of balancing the meals and “resetting” your metabolism, as I mentioned before.
Top main rules for the “cheat meals”
- Don’t go with full day cheat meal!
Avoid this as much as possible. Be careful with eating pizza or coke all day, as you don’t want to have a reverse effect on your eating journey and gain weight instead. Bear in mind that high caloric food produces “pleasure”, and abusing of the amount we eat may make us want more and increase anxiety, especially the carbs and sugars. You should have 5 meals in a day, of which 1 or 2 could be “cheat meals or snacks”. If you decide to have more than 2 of these types of foods, then you need to evaluate your needs. Be prepared to follow a healthy regime on a long term.
- Don’t weigh yourself the day after
This is a huge NO when it comes to doing “cheat meals”! Commonly, it’s the first thing we do to see how much weight we gained.
Keep this present:
“A cheat meal doesn’t make a difference in gaining or losing weight, it’s the long term eating habits we have that do!”
- Practice exercise
The best way to go safe is to keep a regular active lifestyle, that way you know there is balance in your metabolism, plus you won’t need to worry about missing a specific eating routine.
- Drink a lot of water
This is key in daily living, needless to say we must apply this rule during “cheat eating”. Make sure to include about 8-10 glasses of water, it will help to make you feel satisfied and lowering the anxiety to overeat.
- Aim for holidays and weekends
This is one of the best advices I can give, as it has worked great for me. During the weekdays, it’s easier to follow a regular eating regime, since we usually have a daily schedule for work, studies, family, etc. In the weekends, we can relax knowing that most of the times we may be in social activities, out and about or travelling, so there’s hardly any chance of committing to a schedule.
- Continue with your normal eating regime for the rest of the week
As mentioned before, strive for an eating lifestyle that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, greens, etc, and less fats and sugars. It’s recommended to plan your meals accordingly so you can develop a healthy habit. There is more developed info on my previous article here…
Embracing cheat meals as part of our daily living doesn’t have to be a huge concern or hurdle. In fact, we need all kinds of foods to keep us going. No matter the ads, just keep in mind that you are on a journey towards achieving a balance! “Cheat meals” are really nothing new. This is just a trending topic that has gained importance in recent days due to fitness.
Even the most disciplined athletes have regular cheat meals, I would call it more like “treat meals”, as it’s beneficial and great to treat yourself from time to time and feel comfortable in your unique way of eating. How have you faced this new tendency of using the “cheat meal” term? Comment and let me know your thoughts. Also, feel free to share with your friends and loved ones.
Life is too short to not enjoy a great tasting meal! Enjoy the varieties of food being offered out there, treat yourself!