A “cheat meal” defines a meal considered “unruly” because it doesn’t respect the expected health constraints, quantities, or both. It can be programmed or unplanned, conscious or unconscious, followed by great and euphoric and/or bad and guilty feelings. Let’s look into this subject a little closer in Having your ‘Cheat’ Meal and Eating it too — 5 Facts and Tips!
1. Overeating: why you feel “out of control” around certain foods
There is a whole industry dedicated to creating food that is nearly irresistible. Your body and brain are responding as they are ‘supposed’ to. It’s almost unnatural to stop eating these foods. How often did you tell yourself “I have eaten too much”? Think about what you have overeaten on. Broccoli? No, probably not! Our love for certain flavours has very primitive roots. Sweet and starchy foods tend not to be poisoned and they are the best, quick energy source. Fat is also a preferred nutrient due its calorie density. Our ancestors mainly ate fibrous, low-calorie food (roots, greens, and lean meat). Fat and high carbs/sugar would have been considered a highly prized treat!
2. How processed foods trick us into eating more
Convinces us that processed food is healthy (bars with attractive packaging claiming protein content, words such as organic, gluten-free, vegan, etc.)
Big portion deals:
One package contains perhaps five or more portions and you may get mixed up about the actual single portion size. Or simply don’t read the labels.
Sugar, fat, salt. It is called “stimuli stacking”, which means combining two or more flavours to create a hyper-palatable food.
3. Overview of the situation: stop blaming yourself
Cheat meals are permissible if you’re conscious about it. They may represent a welcome change from time to time, to escape self-imposed dietary routines and restriction disciplines to for example enjoy the weekend with our friends. Identify which mistakes you’re making – that’s the first step to objectively deciding to do something about them.
- Cheating too frequently (once a week is considered ok)
- Eating too much overall (gluttony)
- Doing entire cheat days instead of just cheat meals
- Eating too much fat
4. Call it a ‘RE-FEED’ instead
First, we must understand the hormone leptin. This hormone is released from fat tissue, which regulates hunger and feelings of satiety. Less fat tissue means less leptin hormone. It is essentially influenced by body composition (genetically speaking), physical exercise, overfeeding, daily variation and sleeping patterns. Overfeeding profoundly affects leptin hormone, but not all the nutrients can be considered the same.
Carbohydrates have the most powerful impact on leptin, which increases from 4 to 48 hours after a meal. It means that when we eat a high carb/low fat meal, we can raise our leptin level. Rest, recovery and sleep are essential to keep an optimal leptin level, as is diet and exercise.
5. How to improve your “cheat” meal
Calories count first. You can enjoy your favourite food, as long as you keep an eye on your portions. Avoid calorific over-consumption as so doing will help you physiologically. Keep a high protein intake. Keep your daily fat intake to no more than around 20% daily. This will help you to control your overall calorie intake and won’t slow down carbohydrate absorption.