Most people worry that by changing their eating lifestyle that it means they can never go out to eat, have a piece of cake, or have a few drinks with friends. However, that is not true. Changing your eating lifestyle should not only include eating healthy, it should also include “Treat” meals. What’s the difference between a “Cheat Meal” and a “Treat Meal?” To sum it up in one word…. Guilt. Cheat meal implies that you are doing something wrong, hence the guilt after you have succumbed to your craving. Treat meals however, are earned, don’t come with any guilt afterwards, actually boost your metabolism, and can help you stick to your new eating habits. There are some rules to follow when it comes to “Treat Meals”
1. Plan your Treats
Plan your treat meals around a social event or a weekend, this way you have something to look forward to each week. Your social life does not suffer and you can choose something you will truly enjoy as opposed to a spur of the moment splurge that you don’t truly enjoy.
2. Earn your Treats
Treat meals will increase your metabolism by increasing the “anti-starvation” hormone called Leptin. Leptin is responsible for sending hunger messages to your body. When your body has been in a state of calorie deficit, leptin levels drop, slowing your metabolism and conserving energy. Treat meals “trick” your body into believing there is a plentiful amount of food therefore increasing leptin and telling your body that it’s ok to burn your fat storage. Remember that the leptin levels only drop when your body has been in a state of calorie deficit, so you must be good throughout the week for the “treat meal” to spike a fat burning state.
3. Do not deprive yourself
Some people will not eat for a few days before their scheduled treat meal, or spend hours on the treadmill before having their treat. This is a bad idea because it can lead to overeating. If you go into your treat meal exhausted or starving, you are likely to eat way more than you would have.
4. Treat Meal, not Treat Day or Treat Weekend
Treats should be limited to a single meal. In order to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, the body requires a deficit of 3500 to 7000 calories in that week. It is very easy to wipe-out any progress made throughout the week with just one treat day.
5. Take your time
Enjoy this meal. Far too often we rush through everything in life including eating. I find that if you slow down through your meal, you will thoroughly enjoy it and are less likely to overeat. How many times have you sat down to a meal and by the end felt completely stuffed? If you slow down not only will you not overeat, you will feel more satisfied with your meal.
6. Get Back on Track
Getting back on track immediately is one of the most important parts to Treat Meals. If you establish a healthy relationship with food, then your treat meals will not send you into a spiral. You will not have any guilt and you are more likely to make it to the gym the next day.