Just when you’ve started to feel awesome after completing a great week of workout and clean diet, your best friend invited you to be her +1 on her niece’s 7th birthday party. It’s rainbow unicorn themed and it is happening this weekend! Suddenly, vivid photos of candy buffet, french macarons, caramel popcorn, rainbow cakes, and pastel colored beverages begin to pop in your head.
You cringe thinking about the amount of sugar you are about to consume but you know that ditching your best friend isn’t an option.
Whether you’ve just started getting healthy or you’ve been a diet junkie for quite sometime, you probably have been subjected to the temptation of a cheat day or cheat meal.
Should you feel guilty? Is there a right way to cheat? Let’s take a look.
What is cheating?
After a couple of days of sticking to your diet, may it be Paleo, South Beach, Low Carb-High Protein, or a DIY-meal plan, there will be a turning point where you want to succumb to temptation. Who wouldn’t want a quarter pound Cheeseburger while watching their favorite TV series?
A cheat day is allowing yourself to eat whatever you want or crave for a day. A cheat meal on the other hand, is a meal or snack that you add to your regular diet to satisfy your cravings.
Basically, they both mean going against the grain.
Why you should cheat?
Do you remember how netizens felt when all the #ChickenSad hullabaloo happened? Imagine the havoc of not having to eat Jollibee Chickenjoy for a couple of weeks. Gasp!
This is exactly how you would feel when you’re being deprived of the food you’ve been dying to eat. Have you thought of what would happen if you can’t eat yummy food for a long period of time? Yes! You will go Bryan Mills, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will…” eat you? You will crave, you will feel anxious, and you might fall off your diet!
This is why you should cheat. Splurging on a bowl of ice cream when you want will help you meet your goals. I kid you not!
By allowing yourself to take a break from your planned meals, your body will start to think that you are rewarding it for a job well done.
When is the good time to cheat?
Generally, too much of anything is bad. If you’ve been driving through your favorite fast food chain every night to satisfy your cravings for fries, obviously that is called, for the lack of a better term, a bad habit.
What if I tell you that you can incorporate these cheat food to your goals?
A program in the United States called Learn-and-Earn Plan has helped students increase their test scores by up to 40%.
To do this they give students a monetary reward if they ace their exams. Can you see how effective the reward system is?
The best time for you to cheat is when you think you’ve earned it. For some, they consider attending special occasions like weddings or birthdays as their cheat days. Others decide based on how far they are from achieving their goals.
What are your restrictions in cheating?
There are no written rules when it comes to cheating. Just don’t go crazy! Obviously, your cheating spree shouldn’t happen everyday and if you are going to reward yourself try to do it within reason.
Having a pizza night? Why not make your own homemade pizza rather than ordering or buying a microwavable one? You and your significant other can bond while adding your own toppings. When eating your favorite sandwich, choose wheat over white bread. If you’re having a steak and considering a side, why not pop some potatoes instead of frying them? Unleash the inner Master Chef in you!
How is cheating going to affect your goals?
You might be thinking that eating more than what you’re allowed to eat will just ruin everything you’ve work hard for and instead of feeling rewarded after eating a slice of chocolate decadence cake, you begin to curl up and feel so much guilt you begin to ask yourself why bad things happen to good people. Hey, you! Stop. Right. There!
When you have a cheat meal or cheat day, your body will store the needed carbohydrates and calories that you can use for harder workout routines that you plan to do for the next few days.
Stored carbs are called glycogen, in essence, it’s like topping your body up with fuel. That means, when you’re on a diet, your glycogen decreases.
Aside from getting low levels of glycogen, it will also take its toll on your metabolism. When you’ve been eating less calories than what your body needs, your metabolism will start to adapt and slow its pace. By taking a break from your strict diet, it will help reset your metabolism by tricking your body and eventually it will avoid insulin resistance.
Get up and be proud that you’re a cheater. At the end of the day, what matters most is you enjoy everything that you do. And never ever compromise your health just to achieve the results that you’ve always wanted.
You are absolutely allowed to and definitely need to cheat once in awhile. You can eat any food that you love to eat, just don’t overdo it!