What comes to mind when you hear the term “cheat meal”? It might have a negative connotation; in fact, the word “cheat” in itself already makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
Here’s the catch: It’s not a “cheat meal” if you have a good, healthy relationship with food. This might upset some people who may be dieting, or following a certain nutrition regimen because often times they may look forward to said “cheat meal”… which sometimes snowballs into cheat meals (plural), and maybe even a “cheat day” or worse, a “cheat weekend”. Who else has been down that rabbit hole?
However, developing a good relationship with food is essential in being able to balance the foods that are bodies need, and occasionally, the foods that we don’t need, but want to enjoy from time to time. Some might follow a general ratio of “90/10” or “80/20” to be able to find that balance: 90 percent of the time, they are following their nutrition plan to a tee, and 10 percent of the time, they are more flexible or relaxed with their meal choice. While this might seem similar to the idea of a “cheat meal”, but it comes down to approaching that choice with a different mindset and “faithful” practice.
Think about this: the dieter moves from “cheating” on their diet/nutrition plan to accepting the fact that they’ve made a conscious decision to eat that cookie, or have that piece of pizza. Then, the dieter has now been held accountable for their action/decision.. and if the dieter has established a healthy relationship with food and proper nutrition, then they know that the other 90% of the time, they are able and willing to commit to the plan.
The last note on this is–we can never be perfect humans or as regimented as robots; this is why the 90/10 or 80/20 ratio is something we can embrace, and learn to live with. However, If you’re looking to achieve optimal results–such as fat loss, muscle gain, or sport/athletic performance, then you may have to sacrifice that ratio for some time to achieve the best outcome. It’s not to say that you will forever track, measure and weigh your meals, or forever check in with your nutrition coach with your weight each week, but do understand that your level of commitment, your daily, habitual actions and your mindset are all correlated to your given results.
Still unsure about where you stand with your relationship with food? Check out our blog on “Our Relationship with Food” here.
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