I’ve never been good at diets. It’s the basic dilemma that as soon as it’s off the table – that’s what I immediately crave. Fitness experts and dietitians have been throwing around the word “lifestyle change” for years and while there is some merit in that – it’s not easy to just wake up one morning and say “hey, I think I’ll be vegan today! Sounds like a good lifestyle change!” My natural instincts are more like “I Need Burger Now – extra cheese please!” – in my Wreck-It-Ralph voice.
If eating properly is a lifestyle change, do you ever get to cheat? Moreover, is it actually healthy to cheat? Truth is that mentally, cheating on your diet allows you to have some space and something to look forward to. One of the biggest issues with dieting, in general, is the unhealthy relationship it builds with food. Food is not the enemy, it’s nutrients and it’s not wrong to enjoy your meals. But we will get into that later. Physically, a cheat meal revs up your metabolism and you’ll be motivated to work out harder before and afterward. While not necessary, most fitness plans encourage a meal once a week.
Knowing that you worked hard all week, skipping the Monday morning bagels and opting for water instead of the sugary latte at lunch – cheat meals can be hard. Is it really worth it to push back your progress for a meal that you will devour in minutes and then feel bad about for days? Ignore these thoughts. This is what builds an unhealthy relationship with food that can lead to eating disorders (small and big). You can enjoy a good cheat meal without the chaos, just keep my rules below in mind.
HERE ARE MY BASIC CHEAT-MEAL RULES:
1) It’s a cheat meal, not a cheat day
Don’t get too crazy. The biggest mistake that people make is to binge for an entire day. While I get that it’s easier said then done, try to limit yourself to just one meal a week. If you want to have a couple different things, grab a friend and split the burger and fries and if you have to – get the pizza later.
2) Make it worth it
Own your cheat meal and don’t give into what others want. There is nothing worse then having pizza once a month only to discover that your friend warmed up a frozen pizza with pineapple (yuck) on it! Your cheat meal should be your favorite meal and have all your favorite toppings. You go get that short rib ravioli. This is your meal – get what’s yours!
3) Give yourself a break
This whole new lifestyle thing is hard and no one expects you to be perfect. If 6 out of 7 days a week you reach for celery instead of fries – that’s a win! Celebrate that. When you are in it for the long haul it has to be sustainable for a lifestyle.
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