Sometimes people call them, “cheat meals“, however, I use the two terms interchangeably. If one word over the other makes you feel better emotionally about what you are eating, then go ahead use that word. These meals which are not part of your regular eating habits, are, off plan. Thus, free meals/cheat meals can be defined as “a meal that is not on your regular diet plan“.
Why do we have free meals in our diet plan?
They serve three purposes:
- Allows you to stay compliant to the meal plan the other 6 days of the week.
- Allows you to have some normalcy in a world that does not embrace eating healthy 80-100% of the time.
- Allows you to be spontaneous in your eating.
This meal, however, is not a binge fest. It is a time to enjoy something you would not normally eat. Binge eating is a whole other animal. And if you have binge eating tendencies, such as [insert binge eating food here] it is best to do a free meal with something other than, said food, as it will open the floodgates to uncontrolled eating.
So what can I have as a free meal? (glad you asked…)
Eat person has their own definition of what a free meal, or cheat meal is. My definition of eating of eating a huge salad is a treat (with all the fixings) as I don’t eat that all the time during my diet phase. There are times when I just want some bread, as I don’t normally eat that, or alcohol.
Other free meals clients have reported:
- pasta with the family
- a vegetarian client of mine eats her lentil loaf
- 1-2 glasses wine with her meal
It is really up to you what you choose.
I do have a few helpful guidelines to set this up. This should be filed under best case scenario.
- Your free meals lands on a day you train.
- Make it the last meal of the day.
Free meals tend to be higher in fat and carbs therefore the increase in carbs or even just food tends to make you sleepy or lethargic. Since it is at the end of the day you are less likely to blow off the entire day to poor eating. This is a free meal not a free day of uncontrolled eating.
Two days of really poor eating can throw off a weeks work. Just keep that in mind when you have your free meal, 2 slices of pizza will not throw your goals off, the whole pizza – yes. Two cookies are ok, – the whole row or box – not ok.
- Buy only one serving size, not large portions. That way it won’t be laying around the house to ‘tempt’ you later.
- Do not shop for that one meal in order to stock up. This isn’t a time to plan how you are going to ‘waste’ your calories thinking you saved them up for the day. It is just a time to relax slightly and have something be that it may be controlled – off the regular meal plan.
- If it does not taste amazing, stop eating it. Nothing like wasting all your calories on something that is not absolutely amazing. You work too hard, to just throw it away on some day old brownie, that really was not that good to being with.
If after your free meal you feel absolutely terrible physically, time to re-evaluate what you are eating for your free meal, or perhaps make it slightly more modest. As we age, sometimes those thing we used to love, and digest, now we cannot tolerate them in our bodies. It happens.
Free meals/cheat meals are a break from the mundane, allows us to be spontaneous at times when we are monitor what we eat, in order to nourish our bodies and perform optimally in our lives. Remember, food is fuel not emotional comfort, but sometimes it is fun, just to sit back watch, TV and enjoy our favourite treats, or visit that restaurant you have heard so many good things about.
After-all, you do have to LIVE!