I don’t believe in building a “cheat” meal into a diet program. When I have fallen off the diets in the past it has always started with allowing some “bad” foods back into my diet on an occasional basis. A bite of cheese becomes a plate of cheese and crackers; a lean piece of red meat becomes a Sonic burger or Big Mac; a taste of chocolate cake becomes pie and ice cream — it’s always just a matter of time.
Watching the scales is not a great way to solve the problem. If you’ve lost 50+ pounds, a pound gained doesn’t look like much. If at the end of a week, the one pound becomes two, it’s just a matter of time before you stop watching the scales at all.
And, those new clothes you just bought because you lost a lot of weight and want to wear smaller, sometimes more fashionable, clothes, they get a little tighter, and eventually, you can’t be comfortable in them any more. You finally have to yield to your weight gains and put on clothes that are more comfortable, the ones you wore before you decided to get healthier.
The problem with cheat meals is that they give us a taste of what we really want to leave behind us. Breaking up with “the old you” is a very emotional and traumatic divorce, one that can only be successful if it is clean and sure. The more we cling to it, the more we are slaves to the past, the past we want to leave behind.
We tell ourselves, “Putting on a few more pounds isn’t the end of the world. I can relax for a awhile.” Months, or sometimes, years later, we go through the shame and the self-loathing, and we know that the motivation to try again is almost impossible to get back. If we’ve done the cycle more than two or three times, the length of time between our efforts lengthens further, and eventually, we end up with health conditions and diseases that could have been avoided. We only have a few chances to do it again and to make it a permanent life change.
Cheat meals aren’t the cause of our failures in dieting; they are symptomatic of the problem that played a huge role in our obesity to start with, the lack of self-discipline. While green veggies and terrific salad combinations taste great, it’s hard for them to compete with cheesy, fat-loaded casseroles, if these are the foods we enjoyed in our past. The lack of self-discipline is the real culprit; developing self-discipline works in our favor.
There are ways to develop it. Meditation, journaling, yoga, are all things we can do to heal ourselves and to give ourselves the power to say “no.” Scheduling a cheat meal takes our focus away from healing ourselves and puts it upon how we can keep the old obese self alive.