Cheat Meal: ‘Cheaticus Mealicus’
As far as I can tell there’s no exact origin of the term “cheat meal.” It may be a product of social media, so it’s possible that it’s just one more thing to blame millennials for haha! I can’t imagine my parents or grandparents coming home after a long day of work and having a cheat meal. I’ve also wondered if they have cheat meals in other cultures. Are cheat meals just part of the modern American diet? I have so many questions!
What’s In a Cheat Meal?
From what I’ve observed cheat meals are usually high in carbohydrates, fats, or both. They are hearty foods like hamburgers and fries, or rich foods like mac & cheese. They can also be sugary sweet foods or super salty snacks. A cheat meal is essentially something you feel guilty consuming, but why the guilt? We would never tell a child that the hamburger or mac-cheese they are having for lunch counts as their cheat meal. When did those delicious items become guilt ridden items for adults?
Our obsession with social media has made it easy to compare ourselves and our diets to others. It’s important to remember no two people are exactly the same. Someone who is trying to lose weight will not have the same diet freedom as an ultra marathoner. It’s all about your goals and what you want to achieve. Can you reach your goals having a cheat meal every day? Every week? Every month? If you have a big weight loss goals, the fewer cheat meals the better. If you’ve reached your weight loss goal and are working on maintaining your weight, a couple splurges a week are probably okay.
My weekly splurge usually occurs on Friday or Saturday evenings. Dessert for dinner is my favorite at the end of long week. While my husband usually requests a real meal, I like to have a bowl of ice cream with lots of toppings. M&M’s, peanut butter, chocolate sauce, or crushed cookies are some of my favorites. Yeah I know, its not a very nutritional dinner. Definitely not something an Instagram fitness star would be posting for their followers. Luckily I’m pretty inactive on social media. So how do I do this without it having a huge impact on my body composition? It’s important to factor in my activity level. I move around all day on the workout floor and two of those days I’m a running coach outside of work. The energy I expend throughout my day (without having to even plan it) is higher than most people which allows a little more flexibility in my intake.
Mindfulness Is Key
At AFS, we think balance is important. We know those temptations are going to arise and we believe in a tasty treat here and there. It’s all about your mindset and developing healthy habits you can continue into the future. The key term here is habits. These can be hard to develop at first, so it’s important to make a plan, stick to it as best you can, and evaluate your progress. Practicing self-awareness can be a great way to keep your eating habits in check. When you sit down for a meal or open the snack cabinet, ask yourself these three questions:
- Am I hungry?
- Is this food going to help me reach my goal?
- Can I make a better food decision?
Remember, you HAVE control of your choices. Try not to think of them as cheat meals. Call them what they are; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oh yeah, and snack time. There isn’t always right or wrong. There can be BETTER! Keep a healthy mindset and remember to strive for BALANCE. Take the time to enjoy your food. You will be healthier overall because of it.
By the way, I’ve been working on sharing my big bowl of ice cream at the end of the week with my husband. So my weekly cheat meal is only half as bad now. #progress!
Sarah Reiman loves cats, running, and making people smile. Come see her in our Weight Loss Solution classes!
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