I’d like you to welcome Andi to My No-Guilt Life.
I introduced her yesterday as a guest blogger.? She’s going to talk a little about a weight loss technique called Cheat Meals.
You’ve heard the term Cheat Meals, right?? It’s when you do great all week and then have one meal where you don’t think about your diet.
Sounds pretty tame- no big deal.
Just one meal, right?
Andi Singer is a diet and health writer for IHM Online. She went through a substantial weight loss journey and is now focusing on becoming healthier both physically and emotionally.
In the fitness and weight loss worlds we often hear about guilty pleasures and cheat meals. These typically refer to junk food enjoyed every once in a while.
You can make consistent progress at the gym whether you want to get stronger or lose inches, even if you?re one to skip the lettuce wraps and opt for a cheeseburger on occasion.
So why should you be guilty?
The idea behind cheat meals is that you consistently eat healthy- typically a low calorie diet based around plants, lean meats, and for some people grains- and once a week you get to eat whatever you want. If you are too strict with your diet you may end up binging, plus it?s more enjoyable to live life if you can eat junk sometimes, right?
The theory is that even with a ?cheat? meal once a week, your overall calorie expenditure will be higher than your intake, allowing you to shed pounds.
For some people it works wonderfully, for others it does not.
Problems with Cheating
There are two main problems that I have identified with cheating. They both relate to attitude and relationship with food.
The first is that we do not need to label foods as ?bad? and ?good?, and we do not need to associate emotions such as shame and guilt with any food.
We know well that we can still lose weight, even when we eat a few slices of pizza and have a couple of drinks over the weekend, but we still want to shame ourselves and tell us that we did something bad. We all strive to stay away from emotional eating for feelings like sadness and anxiety, yet we consciously label food with emotions such as guilt and shame.
The second problem is that even with a cheat meal we may feel deprived, which may cause stress or other negative feelings towards this food.
Wendy?s used to be one of my favorite ?cheats?, and I would go in and order a Dave?s Triple (3/4lbs of beef and 3 slices of cheese), two six-piece chicken nuggets, and a large Frosty. I felt an intense need to eat everything that I possibly could, because I would then have to go back to restrictive eating during the next six days.
I would often catch myself eating it so fast that I didn?t really get the chance to taste or enjoy it. Its only purpose was to satisfy the panic I felt to stuff myself until I felt sick.
I recently made the switch from having a cheat meal (sometimes turning into a cheat day) once a week, to eating mostly healthy.
The principle is the same: you want to eat healthy foods 80%-90% of the time, and the other 10%-20% can be whatever you want.
Now I may eat out once or twice a week. I may have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once or twice a week. And I?ve found that a great treat is eating TONS of blackberries (they grow in my backyard).
The result of this change, for me, has been a few lbs lost and a little less stress and anxiety.
Going into a restaurant I still have the inclination to order everything I can- double meat, extra cheese, a side of this or that- but it is beginning to subside. If I talk myself through it I can order a single meal with nothing extra, enjoy the company of my friends, and leave feeling satisfied but not guilty.
Some people are healthier and happier when they make diet rules for themselves, but I find that my relationship with food improves as I eliminate these rules and remove emotional descriptors. Whether you are eating healthy food or junk, food should bring positive emotions like enjoyment and happiness, not shame and guilt.
And after you enjoy your special treats, you can wake up the next day, eat a healthy and delicious breakfast, and hit the gym, knowing that you are still on track with your goals.
If you are also looking for some help and motivation to lose weight, why not try social dieting with DietBet?? You can read about it here and I’m hosting a game starting in a few days.
If you’ve got 4% to lose, then you should consider betting on yourself to win!
What are your thoughts on Cheat Meals?? Do you think Andi’s suggestions might work for you?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)