Your diet and nutrition have been on point for the past week, and you’re feeling pretty proud of yourself. Congratulatory, even. You’ve been doing so well, why not celebrate your successes with a cheat meal?
For me, cheat meals usually end up going one of three ways:
A) a gluttonous free-for-all during which I stuff myself with all greasy and sugary foods imaginable until I feel ill and uncomfortably full, because I feel like if I’m going to “cheat” I might as well go all out.
B) a guilt-ridden, emotional roller coaster that prevents me from truly enjoying the food I’m eating, with every bite making me feel like I’m obliterating all the healthy eating I’ve been doing so well with.
C) a delicious, semi-unhealthy meal that I treat myself to, enjoy thoroughly, and come away from happy and satisfied, without feeling that I completely derailed my nutrition progress.
I get the impression that cheat meals can go this way for quite a few people who are trying to make better nutrition a focus in their lives.
I think that endings A) and B) are what happen more often than not, because there’s this mentality of terror that comes with letting yourself relax and enjoy something “not entirely healthy”. It’s been seared into your brain that as soon as you eat something “off-diet”, you’ve undone every other nutritious food you’ve put into your body recently, putting you right back at square one.
Obviously, ending C) is obviously the most appealing. There’s a lot of varying opinions out there regarding cheat meals, but I think it’s important to remember that in the grand scheme of things, one cheat meal won’t make a significant difference to any progress you’ve been making.
I mean, if you’re still making great strides a couple weeks or a month from now, will that one unhealthy meal you ate really have had any effect? Will you even remember eating it after that much time has passed?
This may be less true for bodybuilders, athletes, and other fitness competitors or professionals, whose diets can potentially affect their careers. But for anyone like me—just a regular jane/joe making an attempt to improve my life and be more health conscious—enjoy your cheat meals.
Let yourself have those well-deserved treats once in awhile. They might even give you an extra energy boost for your workouts!