So to 'cheat' or not to 'cheat'? I personally don't do 'cheat meals' or 'cheat days' and I have always discouraged my clients from doing them or at the very least not using those words. The reason why is because the word 'cheat' is so negative and if I feel the need to 'cheat' then I'm clearly not happy with what I am doing 🙊. Over the years working with clients I've found that 'cheat' meals or days make them:
▪ Feel guilty
▪ Lead them to label food, "good" and "bad"
▪ Reinforce existing or start off a poor relationship with food
▪ Over indulge when they had no intention to just because it's a cheat day
▪ Start using food as a reward or punishment
If you are not enjoying the food you eat every day to the point you need to 'cheat' then there's a problem. Healthy eating should be a long term lifestyle choice therefore it's important to like what you eat! You should be enjoying life not feeling punished by it!
I much prefer the 80/20 guide. By following 80/20 you can enjoy your food without having to cheat. Basically this means 80% of the time you are eating healthy nutritious food and 20% of the time you can include foods that traditionally may not be on that list BUT again don't feel you have to. You may decide to do 90/10 or 95/5.
In all honesty I would rather one of my clients eat 2 squares of dark chocolate every night than eat 2 bars of chocolate after eating pizza and drinking 4 glasses of wine because they were having a "cheat meal" or "cheat day".
To go one step further there are ways to include the foods you love and still be healthy:
▪ Look at your portion sizes
▪ Can you make a few tweaks to your favourite meals to make them healthier for example could you grill rather than fry your food? Could you make the sauce yourself rather than buy a sugar laden ready made version?
▪ Experiment with different foods and flavours.
So what are your thoughts? Will you carry on 'cheating'?
Louise, HerbalPlan's Nutritionist x