If you started the new year intoxicated with the possibility of change, the clean slate and the opportunity to reclaim your power, burn fat, and become the healthiest version of you yet: We salute you!
Those are not lofty goals; they’re the best decision you can make for yourself, your loved ones and your life in the long run - you’ll feel more energy, have more focus and be more present.
Basically, you’ll enjoy life more. And we’re all about that!
And in that sense, we’re here to tell you something you probably don’t expect: the key to achieving your weight loss goals this year is your “cheat meal.”
You read that right, cheat meal.
Cheat meals don’t have to undo your hard work.
Diets make you feel trapped, plain and simple.
They’re excellent guidelines, but often they’re not very well-matched to our daily lives.
If you feel like you only have so many options to choose from and that if you ever step out of line you have to be punished, then you probably won’t stick with your diet for very long.
And that’s where the real danger lies. You may start the year with the best intentions, a planner, a personal trainer, and glitter-covered vision board, but:
If you resent your weight loss process you won’t achieve your goals.
Picture this: You start the new year with a body detox, you drop processed sugar, and quit alcohol (leaving it only for special occasions), but then by January 15 you get invited to a friend’s dinner party, have to meet a client for lunch, and somewhere down the Whole Foods parking lot an adorable eight year old sold you ten boxes double-chocolate-chip-peppermint girl scout cookies.
At first, you think, “It’s one cheat meal, I’ve been good. I’ll skip the second glass of wine and it’ll be fine.”
Then you realize the deal’s not getting closed until after dessert time, so “just this once,” and by the end of January at least three of those peppermint double chocolate chip cookie boxes are gone
Not so bueno. However...
Being healthy doesn’t have to be a relationship you need to “cheat on”
Whether you are fasting for weight loss, doing a New Year Body Detox or just trying to maintain a healthy diet, sometimes you need a cheat meal. And that's ok! It’ll actually help you stay on track and achieve your health goals faster.
A cheat meal is just a meal that didn’t necessarily meet all your ideal nutritional values, but that gives you pleasure, comfort, and joy!
We believe in nutritional guidelines, simplified plans, “diets” that leave room for life.
Whether it’s a couple of pizza slices with the kids on a Friday night, a thirst-quenching icecream cone, or a full-blown double bacon whammy - you can eat a cheat meal and still burn fat.
Don’t look at a cheat meal like a ‘dirty mistress’ because that’s not the point.
Think of it as that date night you look forward to, a special treat, a sumptuous experience you get to indulge in, that just happens to be a part of your healthy lifestyle.
You can slay your weight goals this year by changing your mindset
It’s not just about weight loss, body detox, or looking a certain way; it’s about health, happiness and harmony.
The healthiest version of you isn’t out there doing crazy fad diets, hitting the treadmill like it’s life or death or skipping out on the joys of life. The healthiest version of you knows a cheat meal isn’t cheating, it’s a contrast to your daily routine.
The healthiest version of you knows that overindulgence and excess don’t serve your body, mind or soul, but that one ‘cheat meal’ a week won’t hurt you.
Simply take the “guilty” out of pleasure
Remember that time you’d skip the fifth period and feel like a total rockstar?
It felt liberating, and it was OK every once in a while, but if you did it more than a couple of times you probably wouldn’t have graduated on time.
It’s the same with weight loss resolutions, a cheat meal is that fifth-period rule breaking. It is definitely not a lifestyle.
The Ultimate Cheat Meal Guide for Weight Loss
What is a Cheat Meal?
It’s important to define what a cheat meal is for you (and perhaps another way to call it that makes you feel better!) For us a cheat meal is a single dish you enjoy once in a while, that is:
- A meal with high fat, sugar or salt levels and low nutrition value (aka junk food)
- A meal you avoid within a caloric-deficit program or ‘diet’ (like pasta)
- A meal that satisfies a craving but doesn’t meet your target health values (a chocolate brownie)
A cheat meal happens once in a day or a week, and it is different from a cheat day which is 24 hours of free-style low-nutrition eating.
We highly recommend sticking to the first because it helps you win the mental game: if you have yummy favorites every once in a while, it’s easier to choose a harvest salad - even when you don’t love greens!
Here's how to use cheat meals to achieve your weight loss goals:
Go for the 90/10 or 80/20 rule.
You don’t need to be extremely rigorous, especially if you’re not counting calories. But if you honestly eat high protein, high fiber, vitamin-rich meals full of fruits, veggies and healthy fats 80 to 90% of the time, then 10 to 20% of your monthly intake can easily come from the so-called ‘cheat meal’ menu.
Support it with regular body detox juicing or exercises.
Another way to go about it is to include it in your intermittent fasting schedule, restricting energy instead of calorie intake and having your favorites in moderation within your eating window in fasting for weight loss set up.
#2 Track Nutrients:
Even if you don’t use an app like MyFitness Pal it’s helpful to keep track on a weekly or monthly basis of the nutrients you’re getting.
I recommend keeping a gratitude journal tracking things you love and ate with everything from that energizing morning green juice, to that delicious cinnamon roll you had at the mall last week.
This way you can see if there’s a macronutrient you’re repeating too often or not getting enough of.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure you eat the rainbow for proper nutrition and body detox.
Additionally, a regular check-in keeps you self-accountable and knowing your non-scale victories keeps you motivated. Win-Win!
#3 Reimagine Favorites:
What if you took the guilt out of pleasure and still managed to achieve your health and weight loss goals? We love to reimagine seasonal staples that keep the flavor and drop the ‘cheat’ in a cheat meal.
The best part? Since it’s not technically a cheat meal, you can totally still have that deep-dish pizza bite!
#4 Replace When Possible:
A great way to avoid or reduce the number of truly unhealthy cheat meals during the month is to replace it completely with something that satisfies your craving but is still diet-friendly, supports body detox or makes fasting for weight loss easier.
I love our deliciously comforting drink Gold which is superfood-rich, healthy and unbelievably tasty, making it the perfect balance of a sweet-tooth satisfaction, that also supports digestion, rest, and recovery.
All of these things are necessary for your weight loss journey.
You may also try our Red Juice, which has a lovely berry flavor for a sweet treat. For a savory need, some pita chips with guac or home-baked potatoes do the trick. Just like in tip #3 you get to have a little fun later because you had more healthy meals than expected!
#5 Control Thy Portion:
The biggest -and understandable- fear that comes with a cheat meal is binging. Make sure that when you do eat a cheat meal you control the portion. I.e.: instead of a whole pizza pie top it at the third (smaller) slice.
Go for satisfied, not stuffed.
Don’t do anything else while you eat it too, take your time and savor it!
Note: after a few weeks of body detox through clean eating, binging will also make you feel physically off as your body starts to reject the junk in the food. This is also true when fasting for weight loss, so avoid the stomachaches and stick to mindful bites.
#6 Prep and Follow Up:
Contrary to popular opinion, there isn’t a “best time” to have a cheat meal. Yes, it is true that after a hard workout session your muscles are low or depleted of glycogen, and that your body doesn’t really care how ‘good’ the food coming in is.
It’s also true that starting the day with protein and healthy fats help your brain during the day, and you probably want to skip the heavy dishes before bedtime.
But, when it comes to a cheat meal unless you’ve specifically planned it, a cheat meal can happen any time of day - as long as you stay in your caloric deficit (when losing weight or fasting for weight loss) and practice portion control.
However, prepping and/or following up by having lighter and more nutrient-rich meals before and after you indulge is good to make sure you stay on track.
It’s the ideal way to ensure body detox so your gut doesn’t amp up the cravings.
Following these simple guidelines, you’ll be able to satisfy old cravings and support your weight loss resolutions, making sure you set yourself up for long-term success as opposed to diet burnout.
The bottom line:
By making sure you don't completely deprive yourself of the things you love, you stay in the process longer, trade dieting for lifestyle changes, reset your metabolism progressively, and lose weight.
There will come a time when you no longer need a chat meal because you enjoy healthy living as much as any other meal, having achieved total body detox and balance.
So go lose weight, achieve your goals and live your best life.
Your cheat meals will support you as long as you need to in a smart way. And don’t forget to drop your success stories below!