The concept of cheat days has gained popularity over the last decade. Whether you’ve tried it yourself or heard someone raving about their weekend cheat meal, you’ve likely crossed paths with the term before. But, if it’s new to you, we got you. A cheat meal is where you allow yourself complete freedom to eat whatever you want. In this meal, or day, you can choose to make it one eating occasion or a full day of meals, there are no forbidden foods, everything is fair game.
While we get the lure behind the trend (it’s freeing to think of eating at your own leisure, no macro counting required), is it really everything it’s cracked up to be? Let’s find out.
HELPFUL OR HARMFUL: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHEAT MEALS
Having a healthy relationship with food is complicated.
Two recent studies have shown cheat meals are gaining momentum amongst the younger health enthusiast, with the goal being to allow some “fun foods” in a strict dietary regimen. While your cheat meal will be different than someone else’s, but the premise remains true. Adding additional macros that you haven’t accounted for may derail the goals you’re working hard on. And, not to mention, the mental toll cheat meals can have on your psyche (can you imagine how much time you’d save if you stopped thinking about the taco you want Saturday and just planned one in your menu Tuesday?)
We get it, it’s not easy to turn off that mental switch cuing you to have a cheat meal, especially if it’s been engrained in your brain for some time. That’s why we have 3 tips to start you out on your road to success as you ditch the cheat meal mentality.
3 TIPS TO DITCH THE CHEAT MEAL MENTALITY
Use these tips to help ditch the cheat meal mentality. It’s a process, but we promise, in time, it’ll get easier to enjoy the foods you love as part of your regular routine, no cheat meals required.
1. STOCK YOUR KITCHEN FOR SUCCESS
Remember, out of sight does not mean out of mind (especially when it comes to the foods you crave.) It’s important to allow flexibility in your kitchen and keep some of these favorite food options on hand.
Write down the foods you enjoy, chocolate, wine, and nachos included (you get the point.) The goal is to find out how you can satisfy your cravings using foods that support your macro goals. No, we’re not saying you can (or should) eat a king-size chocolate bar nightly, but rather to focus on finding the balance (and products) that allow you to enjoy a small serving of chocolate as part of your meal plan.
If you are following a ketogenic meal plan, with the number of keto products on the market these days, there’s a tortilla, bread, pasta, and ice cream that will work with your keto*-friendly lifestyle while also satisfying your cravings. To get you started, stock up on our :ratio products to satisfy those cravings. Consider having a few keto-friendly tortillas on hand to easily prepare your own air fryer tortilla chips for a loaded nacho night complete with keto*-friendly ingredients, like avocado, cheese, and lean meats.2. MAKE MEALS FUN
Chicken and broccoli may fit in your diet, but it’s also not as or flavorful or interesting as a Chicken Cordon Blue (or a crusted pistachio chicken breast stuffed with cheese, turkey and broccoli.) Spice up your meals and think outside the box when it comes to what you’re serving up for meals and snacks each week.
If you’re following a keto*-friendly diet, did you know you can make a delicious (and nutritious) keto*-friendly cheesesteak sandwich on a roll that fits your macros with lean sirloin, cheese, and sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms? If you crave the salty, cheesy, higher carb wraps, burgers, sandwiches, or entrees, then work them into your menu with keto*-friendly swaps. Not only will it satisfy your craving, but it’ll fit into your macros and budget.
Or, have a sweet tooth? Then plan ahead to satisfy your craving with a keto*-friendly freezer fudge made with almond butter, protein powder, keto*-friendly chocolate, and a few walnuts.
3. BUILD YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK FOR SUCCESS
If you developed a cheat meal mentality from a health influencer you follow, it’s going to be harder to break if the motto is being reinforced each time you view their content. Follow those like-minded individuals who inspire you to enjoy all foods you love, in moderation.
Also, build you your internal support network with those friends who also follow a keto*-friendly lifestyle. Having someone who’s there to offer support and walk the talk with you will make this mindset shift stick.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You don’t need a cheat meal to enjoy the foods you love. In fact, saving those “forbidden” foods for a once a week splurge can actually do more harm than good in terms of your long-term health goals. Instead, work with a trained healthcare professional to find the flexible routine that works for you, incorporating the foods you enjoy. Trust us, it’s possible (and one reason we have :ratio’s delicious Soft-Baked Chocolate Brownies for you to enjoy.)
Give yourself permission to experiment and explore all the wonderful ways you can make your health goals shine, one bite at a time.
*Always consult your physician before starting an eating plan that involves regular consumption of high fat foods. See information for calorie, total fat and sat. fat content.