So you have been extremely dedicated to your fitness plan and eating a well balanced diet. After being so straight for a period of time it is normal to crave for that chocolate ice cream, cheese cake or any other “naughty food”. The good news is eating your favorite “naughty food” on cheat meal occasionally can help with your weight loss.
What is a cheat meal?
A cheat meal is when you consciously allow yourself to indulge in something you would normally stay away from. On a regular basis you should consume a well balanced and nutritious diet full with vegetables, fruits, whole grain, protein and eat the right amount of calories for your needs and goals.
Benefits of a cheat meal
1. Reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation.
2. Replenish glycogen for increased energy.
3. Keep calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms high.
When you know you have a day when you can treat yourself with those “forbidden foods”, you tend to be more motivated and stay on trail with your goals.
How to use cheat meals to lose weight?
Here are 7 steps to eat cheat meals and still lose weight:
1. Know how often you’re going to cheat
Beginners must have only one cheat meal per week. This will give your body and mind a chance to get over the withdrawal symptoms of processed or unhealthy food which you may have been eating for many years. Having only one cheat meal a week will also help to build up focus and self control for a long term success.
Once you start to embrace a healthier and fitter lifestyle, and as you start getting leaner, the frequency of your cheat meals may increase. That’s because the lower your body fat levels are, the more your body wants to hold on to the fat it has. In order to drop the last few pounds you can increase your cheat meals to twice a week.
2. Be mindful of your calories
Even your cheating need to be recorded in your food diary. This is the only way to be certain you’re not completely ruining all your effort for the entire week. Cheat meal should not be treated like a buffet. It is certainly not “eat as much as you can”. Instead, eat between 500-1000 calories more that your usual day.
Although cheat meal allows you to indulge in what you would normally stay away from, you still should practice focus and self control in order to achieve your ultimate fitness goal.
3. Pre-plan your cheat meal
Many people in the fitness or healthy industry actually do not like to use the word “cheat”. They prefer to look at it as a reward meal for all the hard work you have put in. I’m sure you might have noticed as you tried to lose weight you become someone of a social outcast. You might not be able to eat out and enjoy your meals with your friends and family as frequently as you used to.
Pre-plan your reward or cheat meal and make it at a time when it is socially beneficial to you. No matter how we avoid it, bad food will always be around when you’re out with family or friends. I like to save my cheat meal for the weekend when I can enjoy a dinner and not worry having to say no to every temptation.
If you associate your treats to feeling guilty, you are more likely to lose control over your meal, hence letting go. If you associate your treats to celebration, you are more in control of your meals and you will know when to stop when you’re satisfied.
4. Build a positive relationship with food
Be honest! How many of you have allow yourself to indulge in bad food and then feel extremely guilty afterwards? If that happens on a regular basis, it is very likely that you see food as a threat and something negative that may sabotage your fitness plan.
Just know that no single food causes weight gain.Weight management is based on your total calorie intake. So if you practice moderation, self control and see food as nourishing both your body and soul, all foods can be part of a healthy diet.
I believe that in order to be in a positive relationship with food for a long term, it has to start from within. So change your mindset and change your food language. Instead of saying “This food has a lot of calories, it is extremely bad for me and I feel extremely guilty.” tell yourself “This food has a lot of calories but if I really want it I.m going to indulge in moderation.”
As you change your food language you will also naturally have more positive relationship with food. Which will help with the healthy weight management in a long term.
5. Enjoy with all your senses
The difference between binge eating and enjoy a cheat meal is that you know you’re in control, you’re fully aware and you’re fully present with your meal. You’re able to eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re stuffed.
So put effort into your cheat meals! When you indulge, serve it on a pretty plate so that it is appealing to your senses. Taste your food, smell it, eat in small bites so that you can fully appreciate the texture and taste.
Do not eat in front of any distractions such as your computer, TV or any other! Just by taking time to indulge in your meals and eat in small bites, you will have a much more satisfying and mindful meal experience without overeating.
6. Learn to compromise
A cheat meal should always be in control. This means learning to give and take. If you happen to be a dessert lover then go light on your main cause. Skip the starter, drinks and choose a healthier, lower calorie main cause so that you can splurge on desserts. If you already know what you plan to order prior to visiting a restaurant, you are more likely to stick to your portion and enjoy a satisfying cheat meal.
7. Be kind of yourself
No matter how much we plan or have strong self control, it is impossible to be perfect throughout your weight loss journey. Sometimes you may overindulge in your cheat meal or you may have more cheat meals in a week than what you intended.
Everybody sleeps up, and it’s absolutely fine as long as you do not allow one slip turn into a relapse. Don’t let that be an excuse for you to get back into your old eating patterns. Instead, when you sleep up, take notes, learn from it, so that you can anticipate and take self control in the future.
When you’re in balance with yourself you’re more likely to stay focus and achieve your ultimate goal.
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