I have a confession to make. . . I don’t have cheat meals very often, and if I do, it’s usually just for one meal out of the day, but the other day I ended up eating junk all day long, and I paid for it big time. By the end of the day, I was sluggish, irritable, and had no motivation or energy. My workout that day was terrible. I managed to get through it but I didn’t have anywhere near the amount of drive that I usually have. It was terrible, and took me all of the next day to recover. Sometimes you don’t realize how good it feels to eat clean on a regular basis until you go back to eating junk. It really is worth it to eat healthy, believe me!
Inspired by my recent failure to follow my own advice, I decided to write today’s post on cheat meals. It seems that a lot of people are curious about them these days, so I’ll do my best to answer some of the most common questions.
What is a cheat meal? A cheat meal or food is anything outside of a healthy diet. For example, some of my favorite cheat foods are pizza, ice cream, butterscotch pudding, and chicken alfredo. Those foods have basically no nutritional value, but they sure taste good!
Is it ever OK to eat a cheat meal? That depends. As a general rule, if you have an underlying health condition, you should avoid cheat meals whenever possible simply because you are at a greater risk of having a bad reaction. For example, if you have Type 2 Diabetes, you should never go out and eat ice cream cake and fries. That being said, if you are relatively healthy in general, and eat clean most of the time (meaning at least 6 days a week), I think it is just fine to treat yourself to a cheat meal once in awhile, especially if you are going to burn it off in a workout later. Sometimes planning your cheat meals ahead of time can motivate you to eat healthier, because you know you will be rewarding yourself soon.
How often can I cheat? Everyone is different, but I recommend that you cheat no more than once a week. This is something you are going to have to experiment with a little bit, and be very honest with yourself. How do you feel when you cheat once a week versus once a month? Do you feel worse if you cheat twice in the same day? Listen to your body, and give it what it needs (not what it craves).
Are there cheat meals that are healthier than others? Absolutely. There are many ways to make your cheat meal healthier, even if it isn’t all that nutritious. If you are craving ice cream, instead of buying a brand that is loaded with hormone and antibiotic filled milk, go to the Natural Foods section of your grocery store and find some organic ice cream made with wholesome ingredients instead of artificial junk. One brand of organic ice cream that I LOVE is Alden’s Ice Cream. It tastes better than regular ice cream in my opinion. So if you’re going to cheat, try to find organic, clean versions of whatever food you are craving, and if possible, eat something healthy (like a fruit or veggie) on the side to balance the meal.
What is your go-to cheat meal? How often do you cheat? Let me know in the comments!