Plan Your Cheat Meals
Firstly, an ‘off meal’ known as a ‘cheat meal,’ is something we all do from time to time. It is perfectly ok and permitted in any diet or nutrition regime. We believe that if your focus is on managing your shape, then a question to ask yourself is “have I ‘earned’ this”?
The following is a guide to ‘mitigate damage’ with ‘off meals’. Just allowing yourself a treat because ‘I have worked hard’ unfortunately is not enough to keep the kilos off for most of us. Think of it this way, if you were to buy an expensive dress and you have not saved over the previous weeks, you are likely to be out of pocket. You now have to restructure finances to get through your next week or arrange to pay off the debt in some way. With food it is no different. If you have overspent (as in the dress example above) you now need to make a plan to pay off the debt. What I want to encourage is that you have ‘saved’ in the first place. This allows you to spend a few extra calories guilt free whilst managing your budget.
Here is the next step:
We want to implement conscious decisions with our nutrition and below I have created a checklist in order to create this healthy mindset around your cheat meal. By weighing up the pros and cons for the action to be taken, you become aware if your personal inner dialogue supports your goals or is sabotaging your progress.
Cheat Meal Checklist
There are two parts here.
1 Weight management- Ensuring it fits in our macros is priority to whether it is a healthy option. For more on this look into iifym diet.
2 Health Conscious-Some of us may feel we are losing weight but adding in too many treats. Here are some questions you could ask yourself.
Have I earned it?
· Have I kept in my calorie budget for the week?
· Did I exercise today- Higher Cals are better on exercise days for weight loss.
Some ways to do this are:
· Removing a meal that day
· Low Cal days for a higher calorie day
· Try removing a food group like carbohydrates from meals if your splurge had carbs. I.e., alcohol
Have I earned it?
When on a calorie deficit you have a limited budget of food, making it hard to get in all the micronutrients and fibre needed for health and wellbeing. So, earn it by adding in power packed foods earlier in the day. This means foods like lean meat and fish, healthy fats, fibre, and veggies. I.e., Try for three types of protein and eat the rainbow in veggies daily. Always use fish oil, magnesium, and zinc to support your immune system and nervous system.
Can I keep this around exercise?
Try to keep excess eating post training within 3 hours.
Your body will use the excess calories better. Majority of your carbohydrates should be ingested post training as the excess calories will be used more rapidly, rather than stored. Splurging on non- training days is a great way to add some size to your frame.
Can I substitute this for a healthier option?
I.e., popcorn for chips, hot choc for choc. Diet soda options for the real thing.
Healthy sweet recipes. Homemade fudge, cookies, yoghurt sweets, date energy balls, banana bread, homemade muesli, frozen yoghurt, homemade ice cream, smoothies, protein shakes
Is it a treat or a habit?
let us say ice cream or chips (which has little to no nutritional value) limit these foods. If it occurs weekly or more then this is not a treat but a habit.
See across as you may have healthier options in which can be substituted and built in your plan more frequently.
Do not justify it but earn it!
Food is fuel- creating this belief is powerful!
When you think this way, your decisions are influenced by this belief, and you will become more conscious of how foods make you feel and your performance afterwards
I.e., how would you feel during the day when starting with a bowl of ice cream? You will probably crash soon after due to unstable blood sugars. Compare this to some high fibre veggies and low gi eggs, which have both protein and healthy fats. Your mood will be far more stable, and focus/ performance will be better.
To Summarise on Your Cheat Meal
Is this food doing what I need it to? Go through the above and then use these final questions as a checklist to support your health and body shape goals! If it is a no- go back and look above for your options 😊
- If I have this, will I feel good about it? Will I be able to move on with no guilt and stay on track? Am I handling my stress, and will this make me feel good about my choice?
- Do I have control over it? Can I opt in or out? Am I constantly justifying these foods or having them sparingly? That is what an ‘off meal’ is after all.
- Is it budgeted for (calories and micronutrients)?
- Am I ok with any possible fat gain and health repercussions? I.e. 2 off plan days in a row. You are likely to gain bodyfat
- Can I get back on track and leave this here?
- Am I ok with how I perform after this food?
Stick me up on the fridge and challenge yourself over this next month to build some healthy habits.
Make it happen