Cheat Days vs Meals - Are You Doing It Wrong?
What’s The Proper Way To Use Cheat Meals?
Many people look at cheat meals as an excuse to have a whole day off which is not something we recommend. Cheat days can lead to binges which can throw you off track, and also result in you not feeling your best. A reward meal is something you can look forward to, enjoy, and then get back on track right after. Cheat/reward meals are recommended and needed when sticking to a relatively strict way of eating. The primary purpose is to give you a mental and dietary break and remove your usual guidelines and restrictions so that you are allowed to eat something you love without feeling guilty about it.
What we recommend when having reward meals is to stick to these two rules:
Don’t go too crazy. And stay away from Fast Foods that are crazy high in sodium content.
Don’t do it too often. Should be a minimum of 2 weeks between Cheat/Reward meals. and it should be used as a reward for your efforts in eating clean and exercising daily.
Don’t go too crazy.
A properly done cheat meal is always done with some amount of moderation and control still intact.
Yes, it’s your chance to eat something you wouldn’t normally eat. But, that doesn’t mean it’s your chance to go completely insane and try to set some kind of eating record. Some amount of sanity should still exist to some degree.
What I mean is, have a few cookies, not the entire box. Have a slice or two of pizza, not the whole pie. Have a bowl of ice cream, not the whole container.
This is where people go wrong with cheat meals. They throw all sanity out the window and just go crazy and binge eat. Not only can that defeat the hard work you've put in, but it can make you feel bloated and not your best for multiple days after.
A properly done cheat meal won't directly hurt your diet or your progress because a properly done cheat meal isn’t so insanely large that it has that direct negative impact. So, while you definitely do not need to measure exact servings or precisely count calories or anything like that, you still need to use some common sense and judgment to not go completely overboard. Basically, don’t turn your cheat meal into a crazy binge meal. And also…
Don’t do it too often.
The exact frequency a cheat meal should occur doesn’t really exist. It you want to really get technical about it, it would vary based on the person and the exact type of cheat meal being eaten.
However, for most of the people, most of the time, 1 cheat meal every 2 weeks is the maximum I (and most others) would recommend. Some people only want to have a cheat meal on special occasions like holidays or parties or family gatherings or something similar. That’s perfectly fine.
And for other people, this may not seem like enough. Well, too bad.
Don't go into an indulgent meal all-out starving.
Another tip is don't go into an indulgent meal all-out starving. If you know you’re heading to happy hour or Sunday brunch with friends, it’s helpful to plan smartly. You want to spend time with friends, not wolf down the first thing you see — and everything else in eyesight. If you are brunching at 11 AM but have been up since 8 AM, make a protein shake before. That way, you can make better choices from the menu, opting for, say, avocado toast with a poached egg instead of a stack of pancakes with whipped cream. We suggest making a pizza or hamburger with fries at home as your cheat meal instead of ordering it out. This allows you to make it the way you want it and allows you to still be aware of everything added. Many restaurants and fast food places add a ton of sodium, oils, and sugars, which can result in feeling unwell. Eating healthy is a journey that requires dedication and lifestyle changes.