Cheat meals are a blessing and a curse. Some plans advise us to steer clear of indulgence, while others embrace the concept of the occasional delight. I have done it both ways. Being so strict that I drove myself crazy never gave me the complete satisfaction that total body health and fitness is supposed to. I found that cheat meals can offer the brain a quick “recharge” and allow you to enjoy yourself from time to time. On a strict diet, we can become discontent with ourselves. We feel trapped by a totalitarian food regime and that any deviation from the plan will derail all the progress we have made.
I believe in the 80/20 rule. If you do the right thing 80% of the time, then the other 20% will not ruin all your hard work. We have to learn to stop punishing ourselves for little deviations from the track we’re on. Once we start to perceive a positive correlation between food and our bodies, we can truly enjoy the awesomeness provided by quality nutrition.
Here are 5 easy tips that can help you on your cheat journey:
1.Hold on to your sanity.
Take small steps to achieve your nutrition goals. Don’t cut every “bad” thing out of your diet immediately. You can throw your body and brain into shock and decrease your chances of continuing. Decrease your consumption of naughty indulgences over a months time so you can acclimate your brain to the new habits!
2.Make your cheats work for you.
Planning your cheat meals on weekends, particularly after a workout, is the best time that I have found to properly reward my good behavior throughout the week. When you eat sweets after an intense training session, your body utilizes as fuel to repair your depleted muscles instead of railroading the excess sugar to your fat supply stations.
3.Use cheats as a motivation – not a punishment. (Rewards!)
Saving cheat meals or sweets until the end of your week gives you something to look forward too! Train your mind to think of these meals as a reward for all your hard work instead of a shameful act that you can’t tell your mother about. This will give food a positive association in your brain and give you an extra boost of motivation when things get tough. Mark it on your calendar if you need to!
4.Create a positive idea of food and relax!
Planning and prepping your meals can become tedious from time to time. But if you work hard and stay consistent most of the time then you can enjoy the fruits of your labor while having a good meal now and then. Don’t feel bad about going out to dinner with friends or munching on popcorn at the occasional movie! A diet deviation won’t kill you. It is when bad foods become the standard that you slide down a slippery slope towards unhappiness.
5.Enjoy life and enjoy your diet.
Always enjoy yourself. With the right goal, plan, and consistent hard work you can navigate the pitfalls of life without issue. As you become more comfortable with your body and mental resolve, the minutia of the diet details will be less relevant. Attempt to have fun with your fitness and stop giving yourself such a hard time!