Disclaimer: If you have any special nutritional needs or considerations, be sure to speak with a dietitian or other health professional.
Changing your eating habits can be tough — and if you’re cutting out certain foods to lose weight, sticking to your guns in the wake of temptation can feel downright impossible.
However, the amount of nutritional “education” and advice surrounding us these days is confusing! A new diet here, a new meal plan there… what will help you reach your health goals? And how strict do you have to be to find and maintain success?
What are Cheat Meals?
If you’re following a specific diet or nutritional recommendations, it’s tough to remain committed 100 percent of the time. For some, cheat days are designated days of the week/month where the typical “rules” of your diet or nutrition plan can be broken within moderation.
For example: If you’re on a low-carb diet that eliminates sugars and processed foods, a cheat day for you may be one weekend afternoon where you allow yourself a slice of pizza or a piece of cheesecake. Cheat meals are intended to relieve diet-related stress, strengthen willpower and break weight plateaus. They’re a welcome break from the usual routine.
Are they Okay to Eat?
Is there room for cheat meals in your diet plan? That depends on you, your goals and your personality. Consider speaking with a dietitian or other health professional if you have questions about nutrition and its connection to weight. Also ask yourself:
- Are there any foods “off limits” for health reasons? (diabetes, cholesterol, etc.)
- 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 diet?
On their own, cheat meals won’t derail your weight or health. But for some, they can be a trigger for stumbling into old habits. If incorporated into a diet within moderation, however, cheat meals can relieve mental stress and inspire commitment to healthful eating on a regular basis.
Despite all the food science and evidence out there, there’s no one true answer to this question!
Keep in Mind…
If you’re down with cheat meals, pay attention to how your body reacts to them. Does your stomach get upset? Do you get lethargic or experience spikes in energy? Practice mindfulness and record your experiences in a food journal. Your body will send you a message about how it’s feeling in response to your choices.
PLUS: Remember that moderation is key. If you go out to eat ice cream with friends, you don’t have to get the largest or sweetest item on the menu. Maybe a small cone or cup with a few toppings will be enough. Pay attention to serving sizes and most of all, listen to your body.
Not Sure What Kind of Plan is Right for You?
One-on-one sessions with a trusted dietitian may help. CLICK HERE to see if a Registered Dietitian may be right for your weight management goals.