When it comes to contentious debates around losing weight, “cheat meals” seem to be a popular subject. Some people who’ve set a goal of losing weight and are staying on track may think integrating a “cheat day” or a “cheat meal” will hinder their hard work and progress. Often based on past experience, they might believe one slip up will cause them to fall back into their old ways and habits.
But there are others who see these moments of indulgence as similar to a release valve, taking the pressure off in a way that lets them maintain focus and momentum over a longer period. They don’t see the strategy as stumbling — instead, they find a cheat meal or enjoying a night out keeps them from craving junk-food.
In a way, different strategies may work for different people, but everyone who is trying to lose weight knows, mindset is huge. How you approach them (and afterwards) is crucial for whether they’re successful or self-sabotage.
Here are some useful tips for being able to indulge without setting yourself back:
1. Don’t set a cheat schedule
Planning ahead can be a fantastic way to meet your nutrition goals – we find this works really well with our clients, especially for those who have a busy schedule ahead. For example, prepping meals in advance or planning what you’re eating per meal times helps people track their calories and macronutrients based towards their weight loss goals.
But if you’re building in a cheat meal or cheat day and have a laser focus on that, you could be setting yourself up for a cycle of deprivation and bingeing. Furthermore, the amount of calories you take in- on that day could over-spill into the entire week of what your weight loss target is.
2. Change “cheat” to “treat”
The language you use when talking about your cheat choices makes a big difference because it can affect your mindset around food. Try with using “treat” instead, because it implies a reward, and gives a feeling of indulgent compared to feeling the disappointment of saying to yourself “I’ve been so bad this weekend” when talking about food choices.
This can also lead people to look for something high-calorie, possibly fried or foods high in sugars. It’s a yo-yo way of eating and can have a bad impact on your body and performance.
3. Enjoy the indulgence
Another radical shift in mindset may be seeing your treat meal as part of your goals, instead of a break from it.
In a lot of cases, changing up your diet once a week or a few times a month can be immensely beneficial for your body, even if you’re eating ‘junk’ food,” the body likes to be challenged, that’s how we improve and get stronger, so look at indulgences as part of the overall fat loss plan.
When you look at food in this way, you’ll discover that all foods have a place. Look at a ‘cheat’ meal as just another meal you enjoyed, not a moral issue or something you’ve done wrong.
READ MORE: 5 Top Tips To Help Lose Belly Fat