I started working with a new nutrition coaching client this past week named Lauren.
She’s been really active inside the private client Facebook group and asked this question that started a lively discussion:
“Can one cheat meal a week ruin all your progress ?
Bodybuilding website says yes. Some other places say no. But honestly it really helps with my mental stability. I don’t want to eat chicken for the rest of forever. Lol”
I’d also like to note I never told Lauren all she could eat was chicken and rice… that’s not my style!
Back to the topic at hand… cheat meals!
I have a few bones to pick with cheat meals, and not because I’m a “clean eater” but because of the associations and relationships with foods they can foster.
Not to mention they can easily hinder your fat loss progress when done without structure and guidelines.
In this blog we’ll take a look at how your weekly cheat meal may not be impairing your relationship with food, but also wrecking your weekly fat loss progress.
You might be wondering what I mean when I saw cheat meals can create a negative associations and relationship with foods.
Let me explain real quick..
In no one area of your life is cheating ever viewed as a positive
Cheat on your spouse…
Cheat on a test…
Cheat at checkers… you must be heartless it’s a child’s game for gods sake!
So why would we want to classify eating certain foods as “cheating” you have no moral obligation to specific diet.
The name “cheat meals” starts to foster the idea that good or bad judgements should be applied to foods.
This only complicates your relationship with food, and let’s be honest a lot of people already have a rocky enough relationship with food and body image.
If you need a weekly cheat meal you likely feel eat overly restrictive all week and don’t allow yourself the foods you love to eat but in reasonable portions.
This isn’t a sustainable approach and can be a recipe for disaster in a lot of cases.
Cheat meals also imply there’s no flexibility in your nutrition plan, and along with it comes the “on or off” the diet mentality.
This “on or off diet mentality” is what causes some peoples cheat meals or days to turn into cheat weeks where they say “I’m getting back on my diet Monday”
Unfortunately some peoples mondays take 3-4 weeks to actually come around, and by that time they’ve undone a lot of the hard work they’ve put in to lose fat and get in better shape.
Without specific guidelines it’s very easy for cheat meals on the weekend to stop your fat loss progress.
In large as humans we have poor portion and calorie awareness, and without guidelines it’s much easier to overeat those tasty calorie dense foods.
It doesn’t take much for a cheeseburger, fries and few beers or glasses of wine on top of your normal daily food to total 5,000 calories in a day and wreck your calorie deficit for the week.
The problem is when your weight stalls you think the answer is more restriction during the week, and to eat even cleaner.
This just feeds back into restriction then a bigger cheat meal, and the same cycle is repeated.
I prefer to show my clients how to build the foods they love into their nutrition plan in reasonable portions while losing body fat.
This can be really freeing when they realize they can ditch the restrictions and labeling of foods as “good” or “bad” and make the food they love part of their plan instead of feeling like they’re “off plan” when they eat something they enjoy.
In Part 2 of this blog I'm going to show you exactly how I help my clients fit the foods they love into their nutrition plan, and still lose body fat.