Should you have a cheat meal?

Goodness gracious, the blogging has been so all over the place. I had blogs planned for last week, and some things were going on with squarespace and then yesterday my check ins were just really insane and I didn’t have time. I know you guys don’t really care, but I’m still alive. Haha! Today’s topic-cheat meals!

Oh I also had someone email me and say that they really loved when I did informational topics the most. I know that was totally out of just giving constructive feedback, but I was like “I get it. You don’t want to know about my life.” HAAA!!! But I know I had lots of comments saying you guys did, so oh well. I try to mix it up and give you a reason to keep coming back to this crazy space on the web! 

Disclaimer: science takes us to a certain point and from there, we have to make informative decisions based on what we know and formulate opinions on that! My blog is my opinion :) I'm not sure how cheat meals are a topic of controversy but nevertheless, they are. Haha! 

I have a lot of clients that ask me about cheat meals, and what to do about them. I put that my clients should have a cheat meal each week in the programming, but I also don’t really even agree with that but I never want someone to feel restricted. I think that sometimes people need a mental break, but I wanted to go into the reasons why or why not that you should have a cheat meal.

Diets are always (ALWAYS) going to be about consistency. If you aren’t consistent then there is no point, so many times for some, having a cheat meal at the end of the week is something to look forward to and they can stick it out during the week knowing that’s coming.

There are other people who start with a cheat meal and can’t stop and end up binging. This is actually very common. Binging is more scientific than people give it credit. When your insulin spikes from taking in something that your body is not used to, this creates a heroin type effect and out of body reaction where you just keep eating and eating into oblivion so if you know yourself well enough to know that you can’t stop, then it’s probably best to stay away from a cheat meal. Many girls explain that once they reach that point where they are super full, their mind switches into “Well I don’t even care anymore at all” and they go nuts. My hope is that with macros, you don’t feel that restricted so therefore you aren’t in need of wanting some big cheat.

I know the newest trend is to call it a “treat meal” instead of a “cheat meal” because cheat implies that you are doing something bad, and you should be rewarding yourself not making the food into a sin. I can dig that, however I’m still not even a fan of that.

I think the goal for everyone should be the most healthy relationship with food that they can possibly have. I (personally) believe that if I’m in need of some big meal at the end of the week then that means that my weeks are not full of foods that I enjoy, and that would be a shame. I want to fill every day with foods that I enjoy.

I always reference people that have 0 relationships with food and never have-my best friend Brandy for example-legit she could be a case study. She just eats whatever, whenever, and stays in good shape because she listens to her bodies signals. She doesn’t have to think about it. She just does it. Does she have a cheat/treat/once a week big meal? Nope. Because if she wants pizza on a Tuesday, then she orders pizza and she eats when she’s hungry and stops when she’s full. I know this is a weird concept but I think it’s a very very important one that we all need to go back to our roots and find that.

This is the friend I'm referencing-clearly it's not hurting her ;) haha! Her diet consists of poptarts, pizza, reeses, and popcorn and its because she never forgot how to listen to her body's signals!

This is the friend I'm referencing-clearly it's not hurting her ;) haha! Her diet consists of poptarts, pizza, reeses, and popcorn and its because she never forgot how to listen to her body's signals!

When I was coming out of very disordered eating habits, I didn’t even know what this felt like. I couldn’t identify hunger signals anymore, and if I did, I lied to myself about them. It has taken me TIME to really put this into practice but now I can easily have a day of just listening to my body. 

But you have goals right? I know and it’s totally easy to hit your goals while eating pizza on a Tuesday. When I give my lectures in person, I always say that if you have a craving, you should fulfill it, and maybe not that day but plan it into the next day. Don’t“save” your craving for the weekend and then instead of having just 2 pieces of pizza, you have 6. It’s just the hamster on the wheel unhealthy relationship with food stuff.

So scientifically, are cheat meals helpful? Calories are calories and an increase in calories can cause you to not lose weight. I’m not telling you to restrict ATALLLL. I’m just saying that many times people act as if cheat meals help their progress, and I think that if you are struggling to lose weight, if you continue to count through the weekends, you’ll see more progress without a cheat meal.

But then there are people that say that their cheat meals make them lose weight?

I would say that’s rare, but I do see that sometimes.

It also is of note that you can’t do low low calorie for an extended period of time because then your resting metabolic rate will lower, and it will be harder and harder to lose. You have to give your body a break sometimes, and some coaches do this in the form of a cheat meal. This allows your body a break and some rest to be able to keep your metabolism healthy.

But if I’m having a cheat meal, how do I eat the rest of the day?

This is such a common question.

The thing that I recommend with most everyone is not a cheat or a treat, but just an untracked meal. This is the way that should look:

You go to dinner like you would when you are five years old, and mommy asks what you want and you are given some options and you think in your head : hm what will taste the best? And some days that means you pick the spinach dish and sometimes that means that you pick the pizza dish. You get the dish, you eat the dish, slowly, and you consciously think “Hm I’m full now so I’m going to stop.” Then your little adult dieting brain says: but there is 2 more bites on the plate. Just eat it! And then you remember that you do not in fact HAVE to eat it. You are full, so you stop.

Eat when hungry. Stop when full. Pick whatever you want on the menu and sometimes that might not be the greasiest most unhealthy option.

If you have a plan for what this untracked food will look like then that will help to adjust the rest of your day. Typically I say to eat a little more protein and a little less carb earlier in the day. That doesn’t mean that you don’t eat, but just that you are going into your untracked meal hungry so that you can enjoy it.

Now, I’m not sure how I got this much information off of one topic of “cheat meals” but I digress. ;) 

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