I started cleaning up my diet 6 months ago. On my first day I committed to eating at home every day for 7 days. I wonder if you think that would be easy or difficult? For me, a fast food junkie, it was a big deal to confine myself to my own kitchen. I even allowed myself to eat frozen foods if necessary so long as I was eating store bought groceries at home or lunches packed from my kitchen. I was successful.
From there I progressed to home cooked meals and away from processed frozen foods. I kept the recipes simple and indulgent and didn’t worry about calories or fat content. Once again I was successful. My next step was to start trying to add in more fruits and vegetables and cooking leaner meals that I was reading about in books and magazines.
I succeeded once again. Over the following six months I transformed my fast food diet into a whole foods, raw foods, mostly vegetarian, high nutrient self prepared nutrition plan.
I also had an average of two cheat meals per week. The first cheat meal, after about 11 days of home cooking, was absurd. I indulged in pizza, chips, beer, and chocolate dessert. I felt so overstuffed and miserable. Yet a week later and after eating healthy for 6 more days I did it again. I didn’t stuff myself as much and eventually cheat meals became routine. If I craved sugar or cheesy chips or a Mexican monstrosity I just tried to spread the meals out every few days. I was successful.
Here is where I fail: the cheat meals tend to linger. They turn into extended cravings. They return me to my fast food mindset. Sometimes the leftovers follow me home, sometimes one cheat meal turns into a cheat weekend. Other times the cheat meal is small and light and no big deal. It just depends. But each time, I am reminded of why I choose not to eat those meals on a regular basis and how harmful they are to my body. However, cheat meals are a widely accepted part of the healthy eating network and weight loss industry. There is no shame in caving and eating something you want after a week of hard work and good nutrition.
This week I was reading another chapter of Skinny Bitch (I recommend the book). The authors promote the same nutrition plan that I have come to agree with after lots of research. The book, like many others, has helped me fine tune my knowledge of the food industry. Then I noticed one difference: these girls don’t promote the cheat meal policy. They actually encourage readers to stick with their plan and continue to apply the knowledge of healthy lifestyle eating on a daily basis. So when you have a craving, just attack it one minute and one day at a time. They did NOT say to reserve that craving for Saturday night’s cheat meal.
Wow. That’s a different perspective and one that I liked immediately. I pondered the concept and the reasoning. If we know and believe certain foods to be unhealthy, even poisonous to the human body, why would we schedule those meals into our diet on a weekly basis? And then I thought about how a cheat meal seems to get into my brain, not just my body, and the freedom I might feel if I remove cheat meals from my life. Maybe it’s just a new goal, something I didn’t think was achievable before. Maybe it’s just barely extreme enough for me to feel like I am doing something out of the ordinary. That kind of challenge propels me forward.
Sure, I won’t be perfect. There will still be cheat meals. There will still be situations that I’m unprepared for or caught off guard. There will be weak moments when I give in to a craving. What’s different?? Now it won’t be on a weekly basis or a regular basis at all. It will be rare. When it happens so be it, but it won’t be normal.
This new plan is just a tiny difference in my mindset, but also a giant change in my routine and my plan of attack. It allows me to truly embrace healthy living and let go of the regular cheat meals that were hurting my body. Lets see how this goes 🙂 What are your thoughts on cheat meals? Comment below; I would love to hear.