But first of all, what is a cheat meal? A “Cheat meal” means in French: “Meal of cheating”, so it’s a day of the week when you take a break from your diet, where you are going to let go, and eat what you want, it doesn’t seem nice. is this not ?
Yet this practice is increasingly controversial. In addition to the fact of stuffing yourself with a meal, this term unfortunately leads more generally to unhealthy behavior.
Before going any further, I want to clarify that I am talking about the concept of “cheat meal” in the common sense of the term used by the general public. It is important to note that there is a nuance in the use of this concept in the world of competition in certain sports and in particular that of Body Building.
THE “ALL OR NOTHING” PROBLEM
In fact, the main problem I see with this concept is that too many people tend to be over the top and all-or-nothing logic. Because for many it is difficult, even impossible, to stick to a croissant or a chocolate when they have decided that during this day or this meal they have the right to “cheat” and to consume a food called “forbidden”. So many people go from one extreme to another during a meal and end up wasting a whole week’s effort.
THE EFFECTS OF CHEAT MEAL
This is because gorging on a cheat day or over a meal leads to excess calorie intake, and is often followed by feelings of guilt and shame that inevitably lead to a period of rigid food restriction. And that’s where we enter a vicious circle: we stuff ourselves, we explode our calorie intake, we feel bad, we punish ourselves.
Moreover, by taking a step back, the concept of cheat meal and the behaviors it generates are really associated with those of people suffering from eating disorders such as binge eating disorder.
FOCUS ON A POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH EATING
My experience leads me to advise my clients to see things differently. Why not give in from time to time for a dessert that really makes us want? Enjoy it, feel good and move on, rather than proclaiming an official overconsumption day?
Why not instead focus on your body, your desires and your well-being? Eat mindfully, and learn to know when we can really indulge in a little candy or a super good sandwich that catches your eye. If it happens, we won’t even want to finish it, or if we finish it, we will have really tasted it until the last piece, without guilt. This gets rid of any negative feelings often associated with cheating days and the vicious cycle of restrictive diets leading to the yo-yo effect.
I say: NOT CHEAT MEAL. Because it is important to cultivate a positive relationship with food that does not involve an all-or-nothing mentality, and feelings such as guilt and shame.