Are Cheat Meals Okay to Have if I’m Trying to Lose Weight?

Are cheat meals really okay? Let's talk about it

Disclaimer: Speak with a dietitian or other health professional if you have questions or concerns about nutrition and its impact on your weight. 

Cheat meals can feel like a breath of fresh air if you’re dieting or paying careful attention to nutrition. And let’s face it, why wouldn’t they? Sticking to a calculated plan can be tough.

The diet and health industries don’t make it any easier. Conflicting information is always circulating — some claiming that cheat meals are an acceptable form of self-care, some waving a stern finger every time you go near a french fry or bowl of ice cream.

What are Cheat Meals?

If you haven’t heard the term, cheat meals refer to designated days of the week or month when it’s okay to splurge on less-healthier food. Sometimes those days are planned, sometimes they’re not. It’s all about “bending the rules” to a reasonable limit.

Here’s an example: If you’re on a low-carb, high-protein diet that does away with added sugars and processed food, a cheat day may be one weekend afternoon where you eat a burger or indulge your sweet tooth. Cheat meals are meant to relieve diet-related stress, strengthen willpower and break plateaus. They’re also fun to look forward to!

Are They Okay to Have?

Sorry to break it you, but we don’t have an answer! That depends on you. Look to your goals, your health and your personality. Speak with a dietitian or other health professional if you have specific concerns that need attention. Take some time to ask yourself:

  • Are any foods “off limits” due to serious health conditions?
  • Am I emotionally triggered by certain foods?
  • Do I struggle with moderation?
  • Do I struggle with willpower?
  • Can I benefit mentally from a “day off” my routine?

Sometime, eliminating foods cold turkey is the only way to bust bad habits. For others, cheat meals are a welcome change of pace that keeps them on the steady track.

Keep These Things in Mind

If you do decide that cheat meals are okay, listen to your body afterwards. Do you get an upset stomach? Do you become lethargic or energetic? Be mindful and journal it down.

Also remember that moderation is key. For example: if you’re going out for pizza with some friends, try 1-2 pieces instead of 4 or 5. Pay attention to serving sizes as a regular habit.

Do you still have questions about cheat meals and their role in your weight and health? CLICK HERE to see if a Registered Dietitian may be a good fit for you.

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