When it comes to diets, one of the biggest topics for debate is cheat meals.
The consensus seems to be that cheat meals are needed.
If you do a Google search right now, you’ll find a ton of articles on the benefits of cheat meals.
They’ll tell you all the great things that cheat meals can do for you!
Are there benefits? For many, the answer is yes.
Are cheat meals really necessary? That answer is a little more complicated and dependent on the dieter rather than the diet itself.
If you have asked yourself this question before as I have, I’m going to give you my insight on cheat meals that may just change your perspective.
What’s a cheat meal?
A cheat meal is a meal where you take a break from your diet.
Usually people following a strict diet will mix in one or more cheat meals per week.
Some even make a whole day called a cheat day when they cheat on their diet all day long.
There is no set standard for a cheat meal, but people usually eat whatever they’ve been craving during the week.
Some people will keep their cheat meals pretty clean while others will make them completely dirty.
Many swear that cheat meals help them to stay on their diets better while some say that it throws them off for days after.
Advantages of a cheat meal
There are definitely some major benefits to a cheat meal that help a lot of people out.
Some of the most cited benefits are:
- They give you a mental break and keep your will power up
- They can regulate your hormones
- They keep you motivated
All pretty important things when you’re following a diet and trying to get in shape.
What works for some though may not work for all.
Disadvantages of a cheat meal
Just like there are advantages, there are also disadvantages.
For me, there are some serious issues with cheat meals that I’ve encountered which are:
- They kill your self-control
- They make your diet harder to maintain
- They prolong you’re suffering with the diet
- They stall your progress
Here’s a question I want you to ask yourself out loud. What’s the hardest part of any diet?
The answer is the beginning.
The worst part of any diet is the first few days or weeks when you’re trying to get adjusted to it.
You’re in a bad mood, you’re hungry and your energy sucks.
Like anything else, if you will just suffer for a little while it will get easier.
That’s the biggest misconception people have about dieting.
They think the suffering will last forever
Before people are even on a diet for a little while, they are already looking up how to cheat on it.
Why shouldn’t they?
All the big magazines and fitness professionals tell them that it’s an absolute must!
You just have to stuff your face with several thousand empty calories each week they will say!
People start doing cheat meals within the first week of their diet. They don’t even wait it out.
How are you supposed to get used to your new diet if you keep reminding yourself of your old diet at the end of each week?
The funny thing about food is that after you go a little while without a certain food, you generally lose your cravings for it.
I was reminded of this again recently when I eliminated 99 % of the sugar from my diet.
For a week or two I still craved it, but now I have almost zero desire for it.
The same thing can pretty much be said for any food or diet.
If you will just go a little while without it, your cravings for it will go way down.
Why I don’t like cheat meals
As a disclaimer, I will say that I used to love cheat meals.
I used to be that person who just started a diet looking up articles and YouTube videos on why cheat meals were a must!
After doing that time and time again over the years though I realized that cheat meals actually didn’t help me.
They hurt me and set me back.
Here’s what would happen.
I’d have a great week of dieting and feel the need to reward myself with a gigantic meal of garbage.
You know what would happen after that?
I’d feel terrible, bloated and sick. It would make me feel like I lost absolutely all the progress I made that week.
Not only that, but it would take me a few days to recover.
It would take one or two days of hard dieting and working out before the bloat would disappear and I’d feel normal again.
It’s a pointless cycle that would cause me to suffer for no reason.
On top of that, I always felt like it made the diet much harder to stomach.
After being strict on the diet and getting used to it, I would remind myself at the end of the week about all the good food out there.
It would make going back on the diet every Monday feel like it was my first week on the diet.
I’d be moody for days.
I finally decided that it wasn’t worth it.
My view on cheat meals now
I’m sorry that I made you read all that way to get to my answer, but I think it’s necessary to understand how my ideas on cheat meals have evolved.
I don’t believe they are a necessary evil when it comes do a diet.
I know it might be a controversial statement to make, but that’s my opinion after my experience.
I know that in my case, cheat meals set me back and make it much harder for me to stay on a diet.
I know that there are some people out there that are perfectly fine eating one cheat meal and going back on their diet.
Not me. I struggle to get back onto it.
I think that once you are deep into a diet and have passed the initial suffering phases, cheat meals can definitely help to keep you sane.
If you are on a diet you can’t maintain without going crazy though is that a good thing?
I don’t think that it is.
I believe in balance which means being on a diet that you can maintain.
Everyone will cheat from time to time, but I think you will do better with your diet in the long run if you keep it to a minimum.
P.S. What’s your opinion and experience with cheat meals? I’ve love to hear your answer below!