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Let’s face it, most people are not fans of strict dieting or having any sort of restrictions regarding their food intake. And this is absolutely normal. So giving yourself some breathing room while on a diet could not only help you stick to it but also make the process easier and more enjoyable while still reaching your goals. What if instead of cutting out your favourite foods altogether, you allow yourself times to give in to your cravings guilt-free? In this week’s article find out the truth about cheat meals!

What is a cheat meal?

A cheat meal is when you allow yourself something that you normally abstain from. For almost every meal, stick to a balanced, nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and a calorie count based around your needs and goals. For example, a Friday dinner out or even better a treat Sunday breakfast. When you eat right for 6 days a week, one cheat meal on the 7th day will still allow you to reach your goals. In addition, you will enjoy that treat meal a lot more because you worked for it during the week. However, there are rules to cheating!

Stick to a cheat meal, rather than a cheat day. Entire days of binging can create unhealthy patterns and actually lead to weight gain, spiked blood sugar levels and a generally unhealthy relationship with food. Reserve “cheat days” for a few times a year such as your birthday or a holiday get-together, where you have little control over what’s put in front of you.

As for the cheat meal itself, your weekly cheat meal should still be within the confines of your daily calorie count. Be sure to include it in your food diary as this is the only way of knowing that you’re not completely undoing the good work you’ve done during the week. The easiest way to stay within your calorie limits is by controlling your portions. You can also make small adjustments to keep within your calorie limits. For example, if you’re at a restaurant, either order a drink, an appetizer, or a dessert with your main and your cheat meal will become a lot more reasonable.

So why cheat at all?

The main idea is that a cheat day can help you stick with a plan the rest of the week. Motivation and willpower are like muscles. When you work a muscle every day, there is the risk of fatigue. It’s easier to stick to your healthy diet plan during the week, avoiding those extra calories, when you know you’re saving them for your desert on Friday. This knowledge of saving up for a cheat meal can also brighten up your mood during the week. After all, a successful diet requires a positive mentality almost as much as it requires a handle on calories and hormones.

The best part about cheat meals is that the longer you stick to your healthy diet, the less sinful the cheat meals will become. You’re going to find you have fewer cravings for unhealthy foods and that you’d rather save the calories. Inevitably, as your tastes start to change for the better, so will your body.
By Kleio Bathrellou
Associate Nutritionist

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