In many dietary approaches there are what can be termed as cheat meals. This usually comes in the form of a meal that really doesn't fit in with the dietary approach you have decided to do. But are they a good idea or not?
I’m going to highlight some of the pros and cons to try and get an answer.
Having a cheat meal to look forward too can help you stick with the plan most of the time. If you know that you have an indulgent meal coming up it makes it easier to make better choices, you think no let’s keep to it and really enjoy whatever it may be when it comes.
Cheat meals can help you get through the initial stages of a dietary change. In a recent post I spoke about taking small steps at a time, the take home was that sometimes to jump in full speed ahead can be difficult from the off, so having a few foods that you are more accustomed to can help the transition.
As a carbohydrate driven person having a small “refuel” can help remove some of the negative effects that can come with reducing carbs (But they will return if you make it back to the plan)
A cheat meal surely suggests that if you need to be cheating you are not enjoying the dietary transition you have made. Any shift in diet and lifestyle needs to be enjoyable if you want it to go on long term so a cheat really is not a good thing.
Cheats can re-spark old habits; you remember how much you enjoyed a culprit food and it slowly but surely creeps back onto the menu.
Cravings return, you remind not only yourself but also your body into how the junk food is a quick fix, high and fast acting energy source (Low in nutrients however) and your body says give me more. This leads to the slippery slope of trying to win with will power, a struggle for anyone as hormones usually win!
You generally don’t enjoy the food as much as you thought you would and then feel really negative and as though you have let yourself down. “Why did I do that?” you ask yourself increasing stress and potentially throwing you further of track.
One cheat can easily lead to another, as I already mentioned the cravings return but also the “well I cheated once” mentality might as well make a weekend of it happens and before you know it you have had 6 cheats and snacks and are totally of the wagon.
In summary, If I were to say to cheat or nor to cheat I would go with not. At least not on a regular basis, what I mean by that is do not plan you’re going to cheat. For example “I’m cheating Friday as I’ve been so good”. But more save the cheat for if you really need to, re-read my post about the 80/20 rule and how to use it.
I think the negative impact it can have on you far out way the positives particularly if you are still trying to reach your goal!