We all know someone who claims to eat ‘clean’ claiming to be healthy, I use to be one.
These individuals diets are filled with lean meats, greens, nuts and sometimes some fruit, and carbs.
But because these individuals are so restrictive on the foods they eat and cut out the foods they love, they therefore sometimes allow themselves one day/meal to consume and binge on all of the foods they love, stuffing themselves with thousands of calories in one sitting.
This used to be a huge problem for myself, when I use to suffer from spontaneous binge/guilt cycles due to such tight restrictions on food.
But was this healthy?
And why restrict foods your love from your life?
You should and can still be able to eat a small amount of chocolate or, that food you love which was off-limits, and lose weight!
In this article I want to address, why I feel ‘cheat meals’ are a stupid idea!
1. You Might Eat Way Too Much
Some people could eat like there’s no tomorrow if no restrictions applied. This can result in a whole week of dieting being ruined and knocking you back several steps.
2. Some Feel Guilty Afterwards
Linking eating with emotional feelings of guilt is setting yourself up for a bad relationship with food.
The feeling of guilt can lead to someone over restricting themselves of calories after a cheat meal, causing further cravings, leading to another binge, and thus further guilt.
This is referred to as the guilt-binge cycle.
3. Cheating Does Not Raise Your Metabolism
If you’ve been dieting for long periods of time then a controlled re-feed can be very beneficial both mentally and physically, but this is controlled!
Your metabolic rate will drop during extended periods of weight loss period but to ‘optimise’ your metabolism make sure you are dieting on as many calories as possible, you are consuming adequate macronutrients (pro, carbs, fats) and lifting weights within a sound program.
4. Cheat meals imply your cheating your diet.
If your diet is so ‘great,’ then there shouldn’t be any need to cheat!
Cheat meals imply you are either ‘on’ your diet or ‘off.’
Is this a healthy approach to eating?
The diet you follow should be sustainable and enjoyable and therefore if you feel you need to cheat it then it is neither of these!
Of course there will be times when dieting is hard and you are hungry, this is dieting, but you should not have to always crave your favourite foods.
Therefore in concluding
A cheat meal can be a slippery slope.
For someone people having a cheat meal can lead to a cheat day, which can lead to a cheat week.
If you had one meal without worrying about calories, would you be able to stop after it?
For someone people this is easily do able, but for others who need to improve their relationship with food and emotions it can be hard.
Even though many competitors, coaches and fitness professionals prescribe and use cheat meals, I do not!
Moderation and balance works!
I do not want to have to earn my cheats. I want to eat healthy and be allowed to enjoy my favourite foods. The approach of having to wait until a special night or special day of the week to eat a type of food you like is stupid.
There’s no need to deprive yourself and be restrictive.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to eat some ‘junk’ any day of the week?
So what do I do now?
Like everything in life, you will have to moderate your indulgence. I track my macronutrients, pro/carbs/fat, and I too consume a wide variety of foods with the majority of my calories (approx. 80%) from whole nutrient dense foods, getting sufficient micronutrients and fibre each day. But every now and then I choose to enjoy some processed sugars in moderation, like sticky toffee pudding or apple crumble and custard. Of course someone is going to read this and say ‘you’re telling people to eat junk food every day!’ No, that’s not what I said, so don’t take it out of context. I said you can eat it in moderation and you won’t suffer any adverse effects, and that’s absolutely true. Of course, one’s belief on what is healthy or nutritious will vary from person to person and that is why knowing what your actual overall dietary needs are and using a variety of foods to meet these needs, leads to a nutritionally complete diet, rather than a diet that is based around good and bad food, with no control over calories or macronutrients. Sure you could track a diet that labels food, but I guarantee that due to the limited food types available, the diet will still be lacking in variety and enjoyment.
This is what I do all year round, whether I am prepping for a photo-shoot/show or looking to build muscle, only my calories and macronutrients change. This allows me to enjoy my diet with no cravings, which means I do not feel the urge to binge! It allows me to enjoy social events and not get stressed out if only certain foods are available. Instead of looking at foods as good vs. bad, you should have been looking at your overall diet as a whole, rather than one food in isolation.
When you realize that any food you want is available whenever you want it, the urgency of needing to EAT IT ALL RIGHT NOW falls away.
I simply don’t ever get to cravings now or feel deprived.
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