6 Rules For Cheat Meals
1. NEVER ever, ever eat a cheat meal on your own
2. You’re allowed to cheat on 10% of your meals at MOST
3. Your cheat meal window is exactly 1 hour
4. Eat until full, but never more
5. Put your knife & fork down and chew your food
6. Avoid foods that “give you trouble”
After struggling to plan and control cheat meals, I’ve discovered these 6 simple guidelines will allow you to get the maximum benefit from your cheat meal without slowing your progress or putting your long term nutrition strategy at risk.
Mmmm, think I might pass on the personal 9″ cake, thanks
Let’s run through them quickly…
1. NEVER ever, ever eat a cheat meal on your own: The joy of food is tied very strongly to socialization. Don’t waste a cheat meal by eating it on your own. Also, eating with others provides a bit of natural constraint. You’re less likely to make a total pig of yourself if you’re in polite company. But when you’re on your own you’re more likely to turn into a bottomless pit.
2. You’re allowed to cheat with 10% of your meals at MOST: Out of every 10 meals you eat, only ONE can be a cheat meal. Ideally it’ll be even less, but that’s your max. At first, you should make a tally in your journal just to make sure you don’t go over your limit. But eventually you’ll just get a feel for the natural rhythm of your cheats.
3, Your cheat meal window is exactly 1 hour:
Just like the 10% rule, this rule quantifies your cheat meals for you. Look at your watch when you sit down and start your meal. When 60 minutes are up- they’re up. You won’t do too much damage in an hour. But it’s so easy to let one cheat meal turn into a day with 5-6 hours of grazing on empty calories. And that can definitely dig into your progress and even set off days worth of cravings.
4. Eat until full, but never more: This one is tough for a lot of people—especially at first. You go into your cheat meal thinking you have to make the most of it, because you’ll be going back on your “diet” afterward. But that’s not what a cheat meal is about. It’s about variety and letting loose a bit, not about pigging out. At worst, only 9 meals will go by before you get to do it again! But more importantly, you’ll learn to enjoy the process of eating healthy whole foods 90% of the time. Remember, we’re building a new lifestyle, not going on a “diet.”
5, Put your fork down and chew your food: I don’t know about you, but I get downright excited over a cheat meal. So it’s easy to get carried away and scoff your food down like you won’t see food ever again. But that’s daft? Your delicious dining experience is done in 5 minutes flat! Drag it out a bit. Put your fork down between each bite. Savour each mouthful as you chew it rather than swallowing it whole. Take the time to consciously “taste” every bite.
6, Avoid foods that “give you trouble”: If you stop and think about it, you’ll come to realize that certain foods are problematic for you. Maybe you feel sluggish after you eat them. Or perhaps you get bloating or gas. It might be you’ve got some sort of food intolerance or even allergy related to that food. Eating it will cause irritation and lead to both an immune reaction and inflammation in your body. That signals your body to store fat, especially around the belly.
There you have it, 6 rules to live by if you want to cheat—guilt free.
What about you? Share your stories—the good, the bad and the ugly—about your personal relationship with cheat meals. Any tips? Cautionary advice? Let me know…