let's talk "cheat meals"

let's talk
if you’ve ever dieted or been in the fitness realm, you’ve probably heard the term “cheat meal” that many refer to when they’re talking about eating a more indulgent meal that wouldn’t normally fit within someone’s diet. cheat meals can actually have some benefits like allowing you to enjoy a meal with friends and family, but oftentimes this type of labeling + the attitude towards “cheat meals” can create a negative relationship around food. 
let’s chat about some green flags and red flags around the “cheat meal” mindset:
cheat meal red flags - signs you need to adjust your diet / relationship with food:
  • you restrict your food all week or the day of the cheat meal because you know you’re getting something indulgent and you don’t want to blow over your calories.
  • you think more about the food you’re going to have than being excited to spend time with friends / family during the meal.
  • you go into the meal starving because you didn’t allow yourself to eat much during the day leading up to the cheat meal.
  • when you’re having the meal, you feel the need to finish the entire thing even if you’re full because you don’t know the next time you’ll let yourself eat something like it.
  • you leave the restaurant feeling guilty for eating the meal.
  • you restrict your food the day / days after the meal because you feel bad for eating it and are nervous it’s going to ruin your gym progress.
cheat meal green flags - signs you’re in a good spot with your relationship with food:
  • you incorporate cheat meals into your plan because you know it allows you flexibility while still being able to work towards your goals.
  • you’re excited for the meal because of the food but also because of the company you’re around and atmosphere when you’re enjoying the meal.
  • you eat as you normally would during the week and still fuel your body the day of the meal so you’re not going into it starving.
  • you eat until you’re full and satiated. if that means finishing the entire meal, you allow yourself to do that but if you’re full before it’s gone, you leave the rest or take it home for another time.
  • you're able to engage in conversation that you enjoy with your friends and family during the meal because your mind isn’t just focused on the food.
  • you don’t feel guilty leaving the restaurant, in fact you don’t think too much about the food after the meal since you know you allow yourself to indulge regularly!
if you’re feeling like you identify with more of the red flags, here are tips to help set yourself up for success with a more indulgent meal:
  1. don’t call it a cheat meal. rather, call it a “free meal” or don’t even label it at all! just view it as a meal with different foods than you’d normally have 🙂
  2. get excited about the people you’re spending time with. when you focus more on the fact that you get to be around loved ones, it’s easier to make that your main objective rather than the food.
  3. fuel yourself during the day. starving yourself all day sets you up for failure with a more indulgent meal because if you’re super hungry going in, it’ll be way easier for you to overeat. allow yourself to still have 2-3 solid meals during the day so you don’t feel like you need to go all in!
  4. after the meal, remember that no meal has the power to ruin any progress, and food is just food! you are the one in control and you don’t need to give one meal the power to control your mood or emotions. know that a healthy lifestyle requires balance in nutrition, which includes being able to eat meals that may be a bit heavier here and there.
what’s your favorite way to set yourself up well when you’re going out to eat? let us know in the comments 🙂

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