If you haven’t noticed already, there’s a little buzz word in the fitness industry. It takes on many forms that include: Cheat Meal, Cheat Day, Free day, etc. The idea is that you are super strict through the week with your eating, and then typically on a Friday or Saturday You can eat whatever you want. This does work for some people, but I’m just going to share with you why I don’t think its the best thing for our minds and bodies and my counter approach on the subject.
First of all, the only reason we would feel like we need a “cheat meal” is if we are feeling deprived from certain foods. No one wants to feel deprived. This creates a negative relationship with food over time. In my experience with training and working with different clients and in my own experience, I have learned that the more we stress about what we CAN’T have or what foods we need to CUT OUT from our diet, the harder it is to actually stick to healthy eating and maintain or lose weight. It typically back fires, and ALL WE THINK ABOUT is the foods we’ve told ourselves we CAN’T HAVE. Also, those stress levels release fat storing hormones in our body, and that definitely doesn’t help!
MY TIP: Don’t label foods as Good & Bad, or tell yourself you can never eat something (unless of course you have a medical condition which doesn’t allow you to eat certain foods). But rather look at food as how it will make you feel & its effect on your health, not so healthy vs. good, better, and best. For example, when driving to work after running out the door without breakfast, hungry, you drive past a donut shop, and then a smoothie shop. You pass up the donut shop not because you’ve forbid yourself to ever have a donut, but because you know you’ll feel like crap the rest of the day. You opt for the smoothie shop and choose a protein green smoothie, followed by a fabulous day! You don’t feel deprived of your donuts because you allowed yourself to choose rather than feeling like you got the short end of the stick that left you dreaming of donuts all day. If you truly wanted the donuts you know you could’ve had one, but you get to feel good about your healthy, free-will decision you made.
Second of all, who wants to live their life always looking forward to that one “cheat meal” each week, then binging, feeling like crap, then starting all over again the next week? Not me.
Let me give you an inside view on my life. This is the most free I’ve allowed myself to be with my eating in a very long time (probably since Jr high age). In the past, I always had some sort of mind game going on such as “no sugar this week” or “only 1 treat a month, on the first sunday”, etc etc. I ALWAYS craved treats. And I usually felt deprived! Or a little guilty when I indulged. The last 8 months my husband and I have been living in Europe, and I freed myself of any mental food restrictions. A crazy thing has happened, I crave sweets less now than I ever have before, and I feel better in my skin than I ever have. I have actually lost body fat. I had a delicious eclair from a bakery on a Tuesday afternoon, and some Gelato on Thursday, and come Friday and Saturday I didn’t even need a treat! What?! I’ve been amazed! I’m not saying I’ve let go of all healthy eating rules or guidelines, but I’ve freed myself of the deprivation mind game. Most my meals consist of vegetables as the bulk, and then a healthy source of protein and fats. This keeps me full and satisfied, and in my mind I know that if I really want some chocolate, or whatever it is, that I can have that. Most of the time I think about it, and I am totally fine with turning it down, or waiting until later. Now don’t twist my words and say “I can eat whatever I want and lose weight” because thats definitely not the case. All I’m pointing out is that when we free ourselves of the restriction of Bad foods vs Good foods, and the STRESS of what we can or can not eat, our body will start to respond well to the nutritious healthy food you’re giving it, and your cravings for the junk will go down.
MY TIP: Make vegetables the main part of your diet with balanced meals including protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Allow yourself a small midweek indulgence if it comes up, don’t beat yourself up over it, but listen to your body. More than likely you’ll feel much better with 1/2 C of ice-cream, rather than binging on the whole tub, and you’ll start to become more in tune with your satiety and cravings.
I’m passionate about this because my goal is to give my clients the tools they need for a healthy LIFESTYLE. I’m not interested in helping them lose 5 pounds in a week so they can look good at their best friends wedding. Ya that may be part of it, but if those 5 pounds come right back on, my job was not done right. Shifts in mindset can be tricky and take time, but CONSISTENCY is key!