Cheat meals are KING, or are they?

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You eat clean all week, so you’ve earned a delicious reward, right? Otherwise, it’s easy to feel that there’s no point in being diligent with what you put into your mouth. After all, the influencers on social media do it which makes it tough not to follow their 12-pancake lead. Well, if that’s how you rationalize eating your favorite meals, then you may be in trouble. Your attitude to food is everything to your health. You should not crave a break from the quality eating patterns that support your energy, longevity and feeling good. Your daily food habits should be delicious, varied, and sustainable to the point where you enjoy what you eat every single day. If your evening meal makes you feel as though you’re chowing down on bland cardboard boxes, then you’re doing it wrong. It’s best to fix this attitude and execution before you start eyeing up your cheat meal. Learn to cook healthy recipes or get the services of a meal prep company if you don’t have time. Only once those boxes are ticked should you consider luxuriating your tastebuds with a cheat meal but be sure to keep these considerations in mind.

Think twice if you’re chasing ketosis

When you’re in ketosis your body is acting differently to other diets. It is effective if you’re after weight loss because you’re eating a diet that’s high in fats and moderate in protein while being low in carbohydrates. This is the optimum conditions for losing stored fat but a paper in the journal Nutrients found eating just one 75-gram dose of glucose – like a single large serve of fries or a big soda – can damage and cause inflammation in your blood vessels. It effectively undoes the positives you gained from the keto diet. This means a ketogenic diet is not worth doing if you plan on doing it six days a week and are smashing a monster cheat on day seven.

Get your mind right before you cheat eat

Eating different foods because you’re celebrating or eating out is different to wolfing down an impromptu cheeseburger thanks to a bad day at the grind. Try to avoid counterbalancing negative emotions with poor food choices. Instead, when you do choose to break from your diet, you can truly enjoy the experience. This is called mindful eating and a paper in Current Obesity Reports found mindful eating is a great strategy for weight loss, weight maintenance and stopping you from regaining weight. Eat slowly. Switch off distractions. Soak up the food’s smells. Fully absorb the tastes in slow motion. Pay attention to how your body feels before, during and after the meal. All of this will set you up for a healthier relationship with food.

Cheat meals unquestionably offer a psychological break from your normal eating patterns. They hit the rest button on your mind, so you’re left feeling refreshed. Try to limit them to one cheat per week, rather than a whole day of dietary debauchery. Do them right and they become a part of planned success. Do them the wrong way and you could be chipping away at your long-term willpower. They are the king that can crown you with a renewed sense of discipline that’ll help you hit your goals sooner.