The Importance Of Cheat Meals While Following A Diet
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Following a diet to regulate our bodily functions is necessary. Everyone must have been advised to stick to a routine involving drinking a glass of water right after waking up, eating a heavy breakfast, eating fruits and curd with lunch, having early dinner, eating no sugars or processed food, etc. 

But the very thought of giving up cheese burst pizza or molten chocolate can be tough. So, you might have heard of the concept of cheat meals while you are following a strict diet. But is a cheat meal just a way of baiting you into sticking to the diet, or does it actually have some science backing it up? Explore the scientific reasons behind cheat meals.

The Basics Of A Cheat Meal

To start off, what exactly is a cheat meal? Well, if you are following a diet to reach a goal like weight reduction, muscle gain, or maintaining good health, there is a designated meal wherein you can take a break. 

Depending on various people, diets, and goals, you can have a cheat meal to enjoy a slice of pizza, a pastry, or whatever floats your boat. While you should discuss the specifics of a cheat meal, like frequency, number of calories, etc, with your nutritionist, in general, cheat meals have various health benefits.

Psychological Benefits

It has been found that cheat meals have a major benefit on the psyche of a person. As per a study published in the journal Appetite in 2018, people with eating disorders were greatly helped when the concept of cheat meals was introduced to them. Since following a certain kind of diet is a major change in anyone’s life, it can cause some stress when they fail to adhere to it. 

Having a cheat meal around the corner gives people a mental break and an assurance that even if they indulge in an unhealthy food item, they don’t let the guilt take the most of them. Furthermore, there’s also a motivating factor that after eating just healthy for a period of time, they will get a day when they can relish their favourite food again and come back to sticking to the diet. Thus, it maintains a healthy relationship between a person and food.

Physical Health Benefits

Apart from calming the brain, cheat meals have benefits for your physical health. For example, if you are following a diet that restricts your calorie intake, it can make an impact on your metabolism. If you eat a cheat meal after, say, fifteen days, the calorie intake will be balanced, and the metabolic processes will also not slow down, which actually contributes to a weight loss journey.

There are also some studies that suggest that a cheat meal can increase the production of a hormone called leptin. It is responsible for inducing hunger. So, when you eat more calories after some time of dieting, the leptin production helps to navigate the cravings and even prevents an urge to overeat in the long run.

Practical Implementation

Now that you’re aware of the mental and physical health benefits of cheat meals, you can follow a diet and include occasional cheat meals as well. However, be very mindful of what and how much you are eating as a part of the cheat meal. Since the key is always maintaining a healthy balance between all the essential nutrients, try to have fruits and nuts even on the days you’re planning to have a cheat meal.

As a bonus tip, you can ensure that your cheat meals fall on the days when you have an outing planned to avoid eating a lot of processed food. Also, note that you are constantly in touch with your dietician or nutritionist about the details of your cheat meal so that you are able to reach your health goals without getting derailed.