Although the idea of a weekly cheat might sound totally divine, there are plenty of reasons not to have cheat meals in your diet. Cheat meals might sound great at first, but they can weigh you down and keep you from achieving your health and fitness goals. From personal experience, I know that cheat meals can lead to binge eating and other unhealthy habits. If you’re still not sure about incorporating cheat meals into your healthy eating plan, check out these seven reasons not to have cheat meals on a regular basis.
1. They Can Cause Bloating and Other Digestive Issues
One of the simplest reasons not to have cheat meals is the bloating and other digestive issues they can cause. When you eat clean for days or weeks at a time, your body grows accustomed to subsisting on a variety of healthy, wholesome foods that help you feel and perform your best. A cheat meal, on the other hand, might totally throw your body for a loop. Most people tend to eat processed foods for their cheat meal (e.g. a cheeseburger and fries). The excess sodium, sugar, fat, and other nasty chemicals can actually make you feel pretty crappy since you’ve been eating so healthily all week. If you don’t like dealing with the aftermath of a cheat meal, simply don’t cheat.
2. Cheat Meals Can Turn into Cheat Days…or Weeks
Some people swear that a cheat meal helps satisfy cravings and reset them for a week of working out and eating right. But some people also say that a cheat meal can unravel into a cheat day, or even a cheat week! I know personally that I don’t do well with cheat meals—for me, they lead to more overindulging and it takes a long time for me to get back on my plan. If you’re the kind of person that can’t stop at one cheat meal, maybe you should abstain from cheat meals altogether.
3. You Might Derail from Your Health and Fitness Goals
While a cheat meal might help some people reboot their metabolism and burn fat, for the most part cheat meals only derail you from your health and fitness goals. Unless you’re an athlete who works out six hours a day and eats clean all day every day, chances are those 20 pounds you’re trying to lose won’t benefit from a cheat meal. Done the right way, cheat meals can definitely be part of an overall healthy eating plan. But for the majority of people trying to lose weight, cheat meals might set you back more than you think.
4. They’re Usually Unhealthy
Many people use cheat meals as an excuse to eat whatever the heck they want to eat. Whether it’s a cheeseburger, an entire pizza, or a pint of your favorite ice cream, realize that often a cheat meal is very unhealthy. Don’t think that your body is immune to processed foods, artificial ingredients, and other additives during a cheat meal. If your goal is to eat a whole foods, minimally processed diet, a traditional high-fat, high-calorie cheat meal might not be as healthy as you think.
5. Cheat Meals Can Trigger Emotional Eating
I’ve had many friends over the years who swear that cheat meals lead to a vicious cycle of emotional eating. Even if you ‘allow’ yourself a cheat meal, sometimes the guilt of this meal can lead into a pattern of overeating, then extreme dieting and exercising to make up for that high-calorie meal. If you’re prone to obsessive dieting and exercise when you eat something you shouldn’t have, cheat meals could practically open the door for this kind of behavior.
6. They Can Get Expensive
Did you know a pint of premium ice cream can cost as much as seven dollars! Think about how many pounds of fresh fruits and veggies you could buy with that same amount of money. Over time, cheat meals can rack up a hefty bill. Often you buy food for cheat meals you wouldn’t normally purchase, which causes you to spend more money. If you like to eat out for your cheat meals, that can also dip into your wallet.
7. They Can Make You Feel Guilty or Develop a Bad Relationship with Food
Here’s the final problem I have with cheat meals; instead of picking days to be ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ why not embark on a healthy eating plan that has a more balanced approach? For many people, cheat meals can create a guilty feeling or bad feeling about food that can disrupt their lives and attempts at a healthy lifestyle.
Does this mean that no one should cheat ever? Absolutely not! For many of you, cheat meals are definitely something worth considering (and eating!). But some of you might experiment with cheat meals and find that you do better without them. Listen to your body and figure out what works for you!