Cheat meals don’t work.
There, I said it. You can stop reading now if you are short on time.
Mom was right, don’t cheat on tests, don’t cheat on your lover, and most certainly don’t cheat when it comes to food. Just the word “cheat” puts one in the wrong frame of mind. It conjures up guilt, and getting away with something.
The fact is you are not getting away with anything. Whatever you have in your cheat meal still goes in your body. All those calories still count towards your weight. There is no gimme here. All you’ve done is playing a dirty jedi mind trick on yourself, thinking somehow that it doesn’t count, or you’ve earned it.
But I have earned it! You say. I’ve controlled myself and ate like a sheep all week, now comes my prize — bring on the chips and the chocolate cake, I deserve my reward!
While I commend your discipline in sticking with healthy eating for a few days, but why are you depriving yourself so much during those days that you feel such a need to overeat (let’s call a spade a spade here, that’s what a cheat meal really is) as a self-congratulatory? I thought your goal was to lose weight, and a cheat meal does exactly the opposite, plus it makes you feel guilty afterwards. Does this make sense?
But I’m only human, I can’t eat salads everyday! I hear ya. That’s exactly my point actually.
I don’t have a problem with cheat meals, I have a problem with calling it a cheat meal. I have a problem with the whole mentality that we have to either live and eat like a monk, or binge like there’s no tomorrow, while calling it a cheat meal like it doesn’t count.
Going to extremes rarely works in the long term. Calling anything “cheat” is not likely to work either, because your mind knows better.
Life ebbs and flows, so do the amount of food that we eat. The logical way is to synchronize our eating with the “waves” of life. Eat more when it’s needed, and less when it’s not.
It’s really that simple.
No need to arbitrarily force yourself to eat anymore or less than what your body is naturally telling you to. And there’s certainly no need to label any meal as “cheat”, just as it doesn’t make sense to label a meal “fair”. Neither has any real meaning, nor useful purpose.
If you are using a cheat meal, chances are you are also depriving yourself in other meals. This means your eating plan is out of sync with your life.
The real solution to get rid of this moniker once and for all is to have an eating plan that’s balanced with your lifestyle. A plan that incorporates your need to have your indulgences, at the same time working towards your goal of weight loss; without having to the need to call anything “cheat”.
An example can be found here. There are plenty of other resources on the web as well.
So go get your balance back, and please, no more cheat meals.