I’ve been a big believer in the “cheat meal” or “cheat day”, but I’m not so sure anymore.
If the concept is unfamiliar to you, it isn’t complicated: it just means eating healthy except for one day or one meal a week. It keeps you from that “I’ll never ever have ___ again” feeling of desperation. And a lot of brilliant people recommend it, including my friend Danielle, whose training and nutritional guidance is absolutely amazing and has made a huge positive impact on my life.
The cheat meal definitely helped me. Because at first, just the idea of eating well for stretches that long was honestly frightening to me. So a cheat meal structure eased me into the concept of eating clean* day in and day out.
*Eating clean has a lot of different definitions. To me, it means not eating food that has chemical additives and preservatives.
But it doesn’t always work in long-term practice – or at least it hasn’t for me.Â The Butterfield DietÂ is a funny video that takes it to the extreme. MyÂ problem is, however, that I WAS taking my cheat to an extreme. And I think, sadly, that that’s because there’s a part of my brain that is still more Brian than Danielle.
I felt like I HAD to eat as unhealthily as possible in that meal, even if I might not have minded something healthier.Â I was following the calendar, shoving in unhealthy stuff that, for me, trips that craving wire, and makes it very easy to turn a “cheat meal” into a “cheat afternoon” into a “cheat weekend”.
No, of course that doesn’t make any sense. If you’re a healthy eater, this is ridiculous. But this stuff doesn’t come naturally to me, and it took me a while to realize how nonsensical it was.
So what I suspect is that the designated cheat concept is not for me anymore.
If I’m somewhere that offers a killer treat I couldn’t usually find, if I’ve been craving one particular thing for a week, maybe that’s something to consider. But trying to figure out what junk I’ll have just because it’s Friday night? That’s just silly.
I’ve finally realized that, as calendar-focused as I normally am, the scheduled approach may not work for me in this case.
That said, right now I’m in the middle of a pretty strict anti-inflammatory protocol to rule in or rule out a few different things. So right now, egg whites sound like an awesome cheat, as does a glass of skim milk or a tomato.
Point being, it’s easy for me right now to talk about how I’ll act when or if I’m able to choose from a broader food base. The proof will be in the pudding.
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