You’ve been working your butt off in the gym, and your friends just invited you out for pizza and beer. Is this the cheat meal that will help you reset and save your sanity? Is this one indulgence going to help fight off cravings and give you more willpower to continue a successful diet? Or are you asking for trouble? Does eating a cheat meal only make you hungrier, cause you to binge eat, and make it impossible for you to get the results you’re after? That’s exactly what I’ll talk about in today’s video.
The Term “Cheat Meal”
Using the term “cheat meal” is inherently bad because, by definition, a cheat meal is something better than what you’re currently eating. If you need a cheat meal every week then the diet that you’re eating Monday through Friday is somehow unappealing, less interesting, and tasteless, which sets the stage for temptation.
This is a classic mind-over-matter scenario: When you have a bad outlook on your weekly meal plan when you believe that what you’re eating now is a sacrifice, then you’re more likely to give in to temptation. You’ll put yourself under unintentional and unnecessary stress. You’ll resent your diet. It won’t be long before you fall into the slippery slope from one harmless cheat meal to one junk food-packed cheat day.
When you don’t like your diet, you are at risk for throwing in the towel, regaining some or all of the weight you lost. You could even put on more. In other words, hating your diet and wanting to overindulge in a cheat meal is going to ruin everything you’ve accomplished.
Change Your Mindset
So what can you do to avoid falling off the bandwagon? How can you enjoy your diet and not have a need for that weekly cheat meal? You need to change your mindset.
First, realize that this is a marathon, not a sprint. The best way to look at your eating habits is to envision them as a life-long journey, not a short-term destination. You don’t want short-term results, so get out of a short-term mindset.
Next, if you aren’t happy with your diet, change it. Many people make the mistake of eating bland and tasteless meals because they think that is their only option for weight loss. When you have muscle on the mind, chicken breasts, brown rice, and broccoli isn’t the only muscle-building meal you have to eat. If you’re eating the same thing day in and day out, no wonder why you’re getting tempted by pizza, burgers, and fries. The solution? Find healthy recipes: There are plenty of recipes out there that fit in with your current diet and fitness goals, and taste amazing. You can even find dessert-like recipes that are packed with protein and low in sugar.
Finally, remember to eat for your goal. Base your eating habits on your long-term goal. Maybe your diet allows a cheat meal. Ask yourself: Do you want to just look a bit better? Or do you want to be in fitness model shape? If you’re not trying to get cut and shredded to be on the front of Men’s Health, then a cheat meal might be okay.
With that said, if you’re not after that Spartan physique, that still isn’t a good enough reason to indulge in several cheat meals per week.
The truth is that cheat meals could work really well for some, but not so well for others. This is tied to willpower. Think about how you respond when you see a big bowl of chips placed on a table. Can you eat just a few, and walk away satisfied? Or do you dive into an endless hand-over-hand motion of stuffing your face?
If a cheat meal causes you to lose your mind and eat tons of junk food then you may be better off staying away from cheat meals altogether. Again, to give yourself the idea of indulging, try super tasty diet-friendly meals. Protein powder pancakes is an excellent example of a food that tastes like dessert but won’t throw you off-track.
If you’re the type of person that can control yourself and has a history of staying on course during your diet, then indulge responsibly. Use your cheat meal as something to look forward to. Use it for motivation to stick to the diet.
Think about how you’ve responded to diets in the past and set yourself up for success.
Overall, everyone is different and there is no one size fits all approach. What can help one person stay motivated can send someone else down a rabbit hole of junk food? Define what you want to achieve, adopt an appropriately-healthy diet, and allow for one cheat meal per week but only if it will help you, not hurt you.
Check out my client Rebecca W’s transformation where he lost a whole bunch of fat.