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“Cheat Meals”

woman eats sweets at night to sneak in a refrigerator

I will say I am not a fan of this concept. Oh, I hear about it all the time and I understand the idea. You eat according to your diet’s prescribed rules all through the week and then you get a “cheat meal” (or in some cases, an entire “cheat day”) to eat whatever you want. Sounds like a way to have your cake, eat it and still lose weight, right? What could be wrong with that?

Here’s the thing: any time you’re following a diet it has a set of rules that come with it. Weight Watchers, each food is assigned a “point value,” you count those points throughout the day, stay within your allotted points range and you voila! you lose a sensible 1 – 2 pounds a week. This is a proven method for losing weight. Not because of the points per se but because by tracking your points (calories essentially) and staying within the allotted amount they’ve given you, you’re eating fewer calories than you expend. That’s how losing weight works. So following the diet’s “rules” is important. If you don’t follow their rules you’re not going to lose weight.

But you don’t always want to follow the diet’s rules, do you? Sometimes you’ve had a hard day and you just want to relax those rules and enjoy yourself. Or maybe you’re just ambivalent about counting points some days so you just eat whatever. Or maybe your inner 4-year-old is stamping her feet yelling “You’re not the boss of me! I don’t wanna count points!” Oh, that’s mature (me, for decades).

Sometimes you want to cheat.

What I would point out though is that “cheating” means that you haven’t really bought into the diet. It’s just a diet with a set of rules that you’re following for a certain period of time, but that the diet’s rules are like your parents’ rules when you were a teenager: they’re meant to be broken. In fact, you look forward to breaking them! You plot and scheme for your next cheat meal the way you once connived to sneak out of the house and meet up with your friends at midnight and party! Not that I ever did that, mom.

We’re the grown-ups now, though. And we get to make the rules. So cheat meals become unnecessary because we construct a diet around rules that are a reflection of our core beliefs and values. We choose to eat foods that are healthy and nutritious (very nearly) all the time. We do so because quite simply it is in our best interest. But healthy and nutritious doesn’t mean arduous. On the contrary, your diet should only be comprised of foods you absolutely love. Foods you cannot wait to eat! Foods that provide you with tremendous pleasure and satisfaction.

When you construct a diet based on rules that intuitively make sense to you, “cheat meals” are superfluous.

It’s hard. It gets easier. You’re so worth it!

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