Cheaters do prosper! I’m Lindsey, the nutritionist at IdealShape, and I’m here to help you revolutionize your eating habits in 12 weeks. These 12 habits will make achieving your ideal shape so much easier! We’ve already covered how to eat 5 meals a day, make fat-blasting breakfasts and fuel your workouts.
This week I want to show you why having a cheat meal will help you eat healthier overall. If you were worried about surviving the Nutrition Challenge without your favorite foods, you can breathe a sigh of relief!
And if you’re worried about going “off the rails” after the first bite of your favorite indulgence, don’t be. I’ll be giving you three strategies for enjoying your cheat meal guilt-free — and then jumping right back on track with your nutrition goals.
Here’s why a cheat meal is good for fat loss:
- Socially – No one wants to be a hermit as they’re reaching their fitness goals! Having a weekly cheat meal lets you continue to enjoy date nights, barbecues, holidays and birthday parties. If you plan your cheat meal for the night of the event, you can enjoy the food that’s served guilt free.
- Mentally – Staying true to your nutrition plan all week is hard. But passing up your favorite foods gets easier when you know you can have them for your weekly cheat meal. This will prevent feelings of deprivation, which can backfire (hello, monster cravings).
- Hormonally – Prolonged dieting can really decrease your leptin stores, which makes it hard to continue to lose fat. Leptin is our satiety hormone and it regulates the amount of fat stored in our bodies. It does this by adjusting our feelings of hunger. If our leptin levels go down we’ll feel much hungrier and have more cravings. One way to keep leptin levels as high as possible is to splurge on a good, higher calorie meal once a week.
Your Challenge for This Week
Look at your calendar for the week and decide when you want to have your cheat meal and what you want to indulge in. Then choose a strategy, one from below or one of your own, to get right back on track after the meal. This should be a challenge you look forward to taking, guilt free!
What should you have for your cheat meal? The beauty of this is that you can really have ANYTHING you want… but not EVERYTHING you want. 🙂 Instead of feeling like you have to count your cheat meal calories, just have “moderate” portions – say, one serving of this or that, instead of 3-4 servings.
3 Keys to Success
If you’ve gained a little (or a lot of) weight, chances are you have a weak spot for high calorie indulgences. I certainly do! So in order for the cheat meal to work, you need to be confident in your ability to splurge and then get right back on track.
Here are the tricks I use:
- Give your cheat meal a start and end time. If you start dinner at 6pm and plan on having dessert around 7pm, your end time might be 7:15 or 7:30. This will prevent your cheat meal from spilling into later meals or opening the door to BLTs (bites, licks and tastes) for the rest of the day, which can add up to hundreds of calories before you know it.
- Set a plate limit. For holidays and potlucks, a start and end time might feel like you’re giving yourself free reign to binge for two hours. If you’re worried about this, you might want to give yourself a plate limit instead — say, one plate for dinner and one plate for dessert.
- Restaurant meals are great “cheats.” Going to a restaurant usually makes it easy to stay on track because you order your meal, you eat it and you’re finished. You don’t stand around the buffet table for another hour or sit in your kitchen staring at that half eaten gallon of ice cream.
Keep in mind that this is your cheat meal so feel free to enjoy what you’re craving guilt free! The best way to make it truly guilt free is to keep it from creeping out into other meals, snacks and nibbles.
Track Your Results
See if eating a weekly cheat meal helps you…
- Have less anxiety about social situations throwing your nutrition goals off track
- Turn down temptations you may not have wanted that much, because you know you’re looking forward to your favorite guilt-free meal
P.S. Nutrition is only part of the puzzle. If you haven’t already signed up for the *full* Shape Up Challenge, click the banner below to start the FREE workout program with me, too!