Ahhh….I can still taste that burger. After 2 weeks of meal prep, the aroma and sensational flavors were a treat to my taste buds! I had pledged to devour every inch of it and the crumbs to boot, but halfway through it, I threw in the towel. It was just too yuge!
Anyway. Back to the topic at hand. What was it again?
Certainly not ginormous cheese burgers. It was Cheat Meals.
i get the whole idea behind the concept of cheat meals. In-fact, I was loyal to it for almost three years, up until recently when i decided i was ready to exchange the guilt for a little more joy and satisfaction.
A cheat meal is a meal set aside (for most people, its once a week) to indulge in foods outside of your meal prep, in a bid to reward yourself after a week of diligent clean eating (and training), while curbing certain cravings.
I’ve no problem with the concept of clean eating; in fact, it has been beneficial to me in some weeks where cravings were unusual; i would tell myself to wait until my set day (used to be Sundays) and I could address my cravings to my satisfaction. Not bad, right? It depends on how you look at it.
My main issue with the Cheat Meal is in the name; “Cheat” meal.
it denotes a dirty, maybe secret undertaking that is illegal yet allures with intrigue and excitement. Its like when you hear the term, “illicit love affair” – it sounds so wrong yet enticing and exhilarating.
I take issue with the word “Cheat” because it taints the genuine intention that comes with breaking away from a regular pattern of eating to indulge in a meal that will bring joy, satisfaction and even motivation for another week or two.
So from here on out, why don’t we give it a different name?
I propose the name, “Treat Meal”.
Ahhh…..sounds refreshing, doesn’t it?
Did you know that, a Treat Meal (in moderation, obviously) is not only OK, it is encouraged!
Treat meals don’t just curb cravings, they can help you overcome a plateau!
A sudden spike in calories (in this case, high carb and moderate fats) can revive a metabolism that’s beginning to adapt to a long-term steady state of calorie intake.
Scheduled and pre-planned treat meals are excellent is taking the pressure off restriction diets. Done properly, they will refill your glycogen stores and give you a much deserved break. They might even give you a fresh boost in your workouts!
Here are a few basic rules to adapt into your Treat Meal to make it work for you:
- Plan Ahead: Adhock treats can go south pretty fast. It is better, safer and more satisfying to set aside a day and plan what you will have. Aim for no more than 1,000 calories above your daily caloric budget.
- Consider your state of mind: If your mood’s in a funk, your all moody and might want to medicate yourself with food, RED ALERT: YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER THE BINGE-ZONE! It will be very difficult to eat in moderation, as you will not be in a position to control yourself.
- It’s a Treat Meal, not a Treat Day: I’m not even going to delve much in to this one. Turn it into a fiesta, and watch your gains go down the drain. One meal. That’s it.
- Try to schedule you Treat Day on a training day: Having your treat meal after an intense workout will be great because most of the calories will be assimilated for energy. Twice the reward!
- Don’t contemplate seconds: is it a cheeseburger and some fries on the side? Or some ribs with a scoop or two of ice cream for desert? Have it. Enjoy every bit of it. Then wrap it up. Do not get seconds, as you will be facing a slippery slope. Drink plenty of water if you are tempted to have more. In most cases, you will be one liter away from being completely stuffed and sparing yourself the setback of more unwanted calories. It also helps to have a side dish of vegetables, as the fiber in veggies makes you feel full, faster. What ever it takes, do your best to avoid “seconds”.
- Make your own Treat Meals, why don’t you? I love making my own treats because i get to decide what i want without compromising on the quality and flavors. For example, I love me some caramelized plantain with honey glazed pork ribs. I’m literally drooled as I wrote that. Rather than buying deep fried plantain, I make mine at home with honey and cinnamon and bake to crisp perfection. I also marinate my pork with honey and soy sauce, herbs etc. In this meal there’s more sugar than i allow in my diet, but its natural sugars, as opposed to artificial sugars in restaurants. I also bake pastries with grain flour and make delicious topping with Greek yogurt, dark chocolate, among other decadent yet healthier food options. So think about what you love and make your own versions at home.
- Eliminate that sense of guilt: If you want your cheat meal, go ahead and have it. It is not wrong, naughty or dirty to indulge. Treat yourself, don’t cheat yourself. It all goes towards your gains.