Just days shy of one month completely clean eating, my boyfriend and I indulged in a “cheat meal.” Before you judge, I researched it. A cheat meal wasn’t going to toss us off the wagon. Although quitting refined sugars and grains has been compared to the recovery withdrawal of drug addicts, we were well past the 2 week mark and we ate pretty decent to begin with. However the raw vegan fudge made from dates, maple syrup and cacao was not enough to quench my man’s thirst for stick-it-in-your-veins milk chocolate. And I’ll admit my pleasure center was seeking a reward too.
It’s not that a cheat day or cheat meal is a sign of weakness or failure. You need recovery days for your workouts right? A cheat meal provides the mental recovery for your diet. It’s about eating your favorite thing, without over eating or eating the wrong combo. Order the cheeseburger but skip the fries, no dessert. The goal is to time the cheat meal well and really stick to your diet and training program during the week. Not only will the cheat meal satisfy cravings, but it can kick you off a weight loss plateau. After days of consuming less calories than you burn, a cheat meal may act as kickstarter for your metabolism as well as stocking up on glycogen for your workout the next day.
Although it’s not a license to binge, you can stick to the once a week cheat meal and plan it out. Obviously if your meal isn’t clean, you don’t get HIP Challenge points, but it might help you keep going day to day if you have that to look forward to. Incorporating one meal of indulgence a week might also keep you on track well after 90 days are over.
Our cheat meal was at a restaurant near our house we love. With a lot of healthy options on the menu, I was surprised my cravings were kept at bay. I ordered a veggie and lamb dish. I simply didn’t want the burger and was turned off by the thought of fried food. We did end up splitting a slice chocolate cake later in the evening. I was not turned off by that. It was rather rich, yet satisfying. When it was gone I didn’t yearn for more.
The cheat meal was a good test. It was nice to know that when it got down to it, the unhealthy meal I had thought I really wanted wasn’t what I really craved anymore. In fact, I bet a could go a few more weeks before my next cheat meal.
HIP Trainer, Editor
***Experts say that you shouldn’t implement the cheat meal if you have more than 30lbs to lose, or are in the beginning stages of curbing a sugar addiction.