We've all seen it: #cheatmeal #cheatday...when Friday strolls around the huge portions and greasy food come out to play when scrolling through social media. This got me thinking about the the term "cheat meal". The saying is an implies that there is one day a week or one meal where a person can go nuts on "bad" food and make an event about it. This could look so many ways for different people, but in the end it boils down to the same mental state and concept.
Food is fuel to our bodies, it gives us energy, it gives us nutrients, it feeds our muscles and our brain. Food is necessary for survival, strength, and energy. When used appropriately, food is how we are able to gain strength and lift more weight, it is how our metabolism is able to be more efficient, and it is the reason we are able to think and concentrate during work days. When eating food begins being looked at as a reward or even as a strict discipline, your entire mindset around food itself becomes unhealthy. The idea that somebody should eat perfect 100% of the time Sunday-Thursday and in return can binge out on Friday is our way of justifying those decisions.
This is all just my personal opinion, but I believe in the 80/20 rule, and I live it. 80 percent of my week contains clean, lean, whole foods, with each meal containing protein, carbs, and fat, and 20 percent of the time I can eat foods outside of that spectrum. The 20 percent is not contained in a day or a meal, but rather when I choose (and no its not measured by an exact 80/20 comparison). The idea behind this is that it isn't a diet, but rather a lifestyle that can be achieved with healthy balance and sanity. The difference here is that rather than an exact science it's just balance. Living a balanced life means having the mindset that food is fuel and bad foods give me less of that fuel.
I actually enjoy and choose to eat clean the majority of the time because I learned that my body does not feel good or respond well when I consume certain foods. For example, I have decided to completely cut out dairy for three years now, and for the past three months have tried my best to have as little wheat and corn as possible and I love the way I feel!
You may be wondering what the 20 percent looks like for me...I love me some Newman O's gluten free cookies with some coconut milk ice cream, and that could happen any day of the week that I'm in the mood for. Do I binge on it to the point of an upset stomach? Nope! The reason is that because I have not restrained myself from it during the week, just one serving is satisfying enough. My body, digestion, skin, and energy function so much better with clean foods over others...but I also allow myself guacamole and a margarita on date night with my fiance, or a lettuce wrapped burger and crispy fries if I want some. The key here is balance.
If you don’t take it from me, you should listen to this podcast from Fed + Fit with Cassy Joy where Robb Wolf, the author of Wired to Eat touches on this very subject! It made me want to jump out of my seat and yell "Yes! Finally somebody else said it!" His book is also outstanding and discuss the importance individualized nutrition based on a case by case scenario. Go check them both out!
What are your thoughts on cheat days and restrictions?