There are a lot of mixed emotions out there when it comes to cheat meals. At PN, we like to call them “splurge meals” because you aren’t cheating on anything, you are just indulging in a way you normally wouldn’t. It’s a splurge and should not be something that you feel guilty about. We feel that splurge meals can be included in a healthy lifestyle once a week or once every other week depending on what your goals and circumstances are. Here are some practical guidelines for including splurge meals in a healthy way with minimum damage. Stay tuned for a Part II: Day After Detox blog post that gives you tips for the day after a splurge.
5 Practical Tips for Splurge Meals
1. Make it a splurge meal not a splurge day. One of the biggest mistakes I find people making when it comes to including a splurge is having an entire cheat day instead of a cheat meal. A lot of damage can be done in an entire day but you can mitigate a lot of that damage if you try to keep your splurge to one meal. This limits the exposure to sugar and toxins that your body is getting, which reduces the amount of inflammation that will occur after a splurge.
2. Eat a well balanced meal of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat 2-3 hours before your splurge meal. This will allow you to go into your splurge meal feeling balanced without overwhelming cravings. You also will not be absolutely starving leading you to over eat unhealthy foods. Eating a meal of protein and complex carbohydrates, such as chicken with leafy greens and sweet potatoes, has also been shown to improve your carbohydrate tolerance in your meals later in the day. This means the carbohydrates in your splurge meal won’t increase your blood sugar as much as they would if you did not eat that meal a few hours before.
3. Balance your protein, carbs, and fat a little. Even though you are about to splurge there is no reason to send yourself on a sugar roller coaster that will leave you craving for days. If you are splurging with a sweet treat at some fat from coconut, organic cream, or nuts to the mix. This will help you feel satisfied sooner and avoid you going back for more. If you are having some fried food or a meal heavy on the carbs be sure to include a protein source (chicken, beef, fish, pork, eggs, dairy). This will also help you feel satisfied and balanced to avoid completely overdoing the less healthy foods.
4. If you’re an athlete, try not to have your splurge meal the night before a big day of training. Your body will be inflamed and recovering from the splurge meal. If you are not used to eating whatever foods you included in your splurge meal this could affect your workout. If you are looking to get a lot out of a specific day of training avoid this. If you just want to get in a good workout after eating a big meal then go ahead. Just remember your body may not respond the way you are used to and you probably won’t feel as great.
5. Enjoy it! At PN we feel it is important to have a balance. Indulging in a meal that you would not normally eat is nothing to feel guilty about. Take care of your body, enjoy your meal, drink lots of water and then remember that tomorrow is a new day. It is not the end of the world if you go overboard on a splurge meal. Your body will adjust. We just try to get people to realize why they are going overboard. Is it cravings? Are these caused by a chemical imbalance from your diet? Is it more emotional? Are you present and conscious when you are eating your meal or are you distracted? There are a number of factors that contribute to overeating. We work with our clients to address these. Our emphasis is on being present and listening to your body even when it is easier to just keep eating. Slow down and ask yourself some of these questions and see if it helps.
We hope you have found these 5 tips for splurge meals helpful. Look out for Part II: Day After Detox Tips!
Amanda and Ana