Old habits die hard. But when it comes to weight loss, you don’t always need to change your ways entirely. It’s good to have a cheat meal from time to time.
In fact, this can actually enhance your fitness journey! Cheat meals keep you on-track much better than restricting yourself 24/7 can. They boost your motivation to achieve better levels of fitness because they’re like rewards for how hard you work in the gym (and in the kitchen!).
The key to doing cheat meals right is to not go over the top with them. Here are five tips to help you fully enjoy yourself when you’re not eating clean, but also keep your goals in mind.
1. Keep a Cheat Meal from Turning Into an Entire Cheat Day
The tricky thing about cheat meals is that they can easily become cheat days. You know, you wake up and have pancakes and bacon for breakfast, then a burger for lunch and top off dinner with a sugar-loaded desert.
Slow down. Not only does a day of eating like this totally throw off the accomplishments of the week, but it can do some serious damage to your digestion.
When your body gets used to eating clean on a regular basis, giving it such a high amount of sodium, grease, and sugar can throw it way out of whack. This makes it harder to wake up the next day and jump back into the healthy swing of things.
As such, keep yourself from going too far off the rails by planning for one cheat meal on your “cheat day.” This can be anything you want – and yes, it’s okay to have dessert, too! Just don’t turn your cheat meal into a whole day of dirty eating.
2. Don’t Guilt Yourself
Maybe you do end up having two not-so-healthy meals on the same day, or maybe you really put the “cheat” in “cheat meal.” These things happen from time to time.
The important thing is to be understanding of your behavior without blaming yourself or worse, building guilt and shame. Remember, you’re still figuring out the whole fitness thing. This doesn’t happen all at once and it’s not going to be a straight shot to success, either.
You’re going to have bumps along the road and sometimes those bumps are the bad habits you’re trying to correct. When a cheat meal does go a little overboard, take note of that and keep it in the back of your mind for next time. But, don’t be so hard on yourself.
3. Indulge Your Cravings
Sometimes, multiple cheat meals become an entire day’s diet because a person is trying to eat everything. It’s not smart to eat with your eyes. In other words, don’t just indulge yourself in everything you see on a menu or what comes to mind next.
Instead, plan your cheat meal according to what you’re really craving. Think for a second – what’s the one thing you’ve been dying to eat all week? Maybe you miss the smell of pizza coming out of the oven or you want to bite into a big, juicy burger. Maybe what you really need is a plate of wings and fries.
You can’t have all unhealthy meals you’re craving, but chances are, you’re not actually craving everything. Stop and listen to what your body really wants. Then, you’ll be able to indulge in a cheat meal that satisfies your craving rather than entertain an idea that you have to eat everything you normally can’t.
4. Learn to Listen to Your Body
Listening to what your body really wants gets much easier over time. As your time working out and incorporating cheat meals goes on, you start to notice what your go-to cheat items are and what you can just go without.
In fact, you may even get to a point where you don’t want a full cheat meal at all! Seriously, once the body gets used to eating clean, it doesn’t crave as much of the sugar, grease, and fat that it did before. This isn’t to say you’ll never desire a cheat meal again, but, you may find yourself going longer periods of time eating clean.
The next time your cheat day arrives, think about if you really want it. Maybe you can go for a side of fries or a scoop of ice cream, but besides that, you’re good. If that’s the case, turn your all-out cheat meals into small treats here and there. This will help you curb cravings and stay on track without totally restricting your diet.
5. Give Yourself Small Treats on a Regular Basis
Speaking of small treats and restrictive diets, don’t be afraid to incorporate these into your daily eating habits. This isn’t to say you should be eating french fries or milkshakes every day. But, ask yourself if there’s a way to turn your favorite indulgent foods into healthy treats that don’t offset your progress.
Say your go-to dessert of choice is chocolate. Why not buy chocolate-flavored protein powder and make a yummy post-workout smoothie with bananas and peanut butter?
Say you’re a sucker for a bag of potato chips or buttery popcorn. Try munching on portioned bags of trail mix or pretzels instead. These snacks give your body the crunchy, salty food its craving, but not in a way that makes you feel like you just had a cheat meal.
Other fun ways to make food cravings a bit healthier include:
- Protein pancakes
- Homemade veggie pizza with a thin crust
- Portioned pasta with vegetables and leafy greens
- Making fruit-based popsicles and “nice cream“
Try out a few of these recipes at home. They’re great to have any day of the week, and they help support the success of your actual cheat meals.
Discover the Joys of Simple, Stress-Free Weight Loss with Cheat Meals
Losing weight should be an exciting, empowering process. When it becomes overly restrictive, it gets disheartening. You want to avoid creating such an experience.
Learn to enjoy your cheat meals in a healthy, fulfilling manner so you can keep your progress heading in the right direction. For delicious cheat meal variations and healthy eating tips, click here.