It’s the end of the week, you’ve been ironclad with your diet since Monday. You’ve done the meal tracking, you’ve chugged gallons of water, eaten countless spinach leaves, and have worked your butt off with your workouts, so you deserve a cheat meal right? Absolutely! But are you giving yourself a cheat meal or a cheat day?
Understanding the difference is huge in terms of how it can affect your diet and, more so, your body composition. My personal belief is that one should have a flexible diet where 80% of their meals come from healthy and wholesome sources, leaving 20% of the diet to come from other foods that should only be eaten in moderation. Having a weekly cheat meal is a great way to break up the monotony with your diet and treat yourself for your efforts throughout the week. But remember these rules to keep your cheat meal from killing all of your progress in your weight loss.
1. Moderation is Key
Keep cheat meals to 1-2 per week, keeping portion sizes in mind as you would with any other meal. Moderation is key because too much of a good thing translates to excess calories which will contribute to unhealthy weight gain. A small pizza over a large pizza is a perfect example of why portion size is important. A personal pan pizza with pepperoni is roughly 500 calories, while a large pepperoni pan pizza boasts over 3000 calories. That’s six times the calories in the small pizza and over a day’s worth of recommended calories for most adults!
2. Avoid Trans Fat
Regardless of what you choose to eat as your cheat meal, be sure to avoid trans fat from foods packed with preservatives as they have been linked to heart disease and certain cancers. Always check out the nutritional facts on the restaurant’s website or at MyFitnessPal.com using their awesome food tracking database.
3. Make Your Plates Colorful
Even with your flexible meals, you’ll still want to include plenty of variety on your plate to ensure you get all of your essential nutrients. Bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes are all great additions to beef up any plate and enhance the health benefits of your meal.
4. Keep Your Goal in Mind
It’s okay to let loose and live life, that’s a part of the greatness of being a human, the ability to control our happiness. In the process of having that fun just keep your goals in mind, which will keep you from going over the edge. A fun weekend pigging out with friends and hanging out can easily pull you out of your discipline if you don’t keep your end goal in mind. You want a healthier body and want to live a long, disease-free life, being conscious of what you eat while maintaining balance is key to staying on track.
5. Always Look for Healthy Substitutes
No one said a cheat meal or flexible eating had to be taken to the extreme, it’s okay to keep your discipline and keep it as healthy as you can make it. I love to do this with fast food meals like cheeseburgers. Instead of using beef, I’ll opt for ground turkey on a whole grain bun with baked sweet potato fries instead of french fries cooked in unhealthy oils. Flexible eating is all about finding a happy middle ground, something as healthy as it is tasty.
Remember to treat yourself instead of cheating yourself and keep your health in mind with every decision you make. As someone who’s lost 100 pounds in my weight loss journey, I can easily say that nutrition was the most challenging part until I got a grasp on how to manage my cheat meals. Time to find your balance and make your cheat meals work for you!
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