Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The No Guilt Cheat Meal

by Kris Pitcher

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. One that gets a great deal of discussion amongst my fellow competitors. In fact, it gets even more discussion than removal.

We're talking cheat meals. Now, people have a love, a hate, a love-hate, or a take it or leave it attitude about them. The common thread in all the chatter however is steeping with two things - misinformation, and guilt.

These make amazing fries!
Oh the big "G" word. Yes, guilt. Now, it's not up to me how you feel. You are perfectly allowed to feel any way you choose. If you choose guilt, by all means feel that feeling. We can all sit in a circle, maybe on recumbent bikes, and talk about our feelings.

But here's my suggestion. Get over it. And here's why. The cheat, or re-feed meal if that's easier to swallow, has a very specific purpose within your plan. It really has two specific purposes.

First, dieting is difficult. I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't. I'd also be lying if I told you that I never wanted for anything while I'm dieting for a contest. Like: french fries, doughnuts, cupcakes, ice cream, dark beer, crunchy salty things, popcorn, cereal, chocolate anythings, get the idea.

I mean, that's not even stuff I eat off season. It's not stuff I think about when I could have it. But kick in a diet, and all of a sudden, I think I want a snowball. I realize I don't and I would never waste a cheat meal on that...but lets get back on track here.

The point is, the re-feed is an opportunity for you to have, in a controlled way, something you've been thinking about. I always have a piece of fruit (on top of yogurt or ice cream if we have it). It gets that thing out of your head for another week. Knowing you can have something makes it possible to do what you are supposed to do for the week. Make sense?

Now, the more important aspects of the re-feed are to bump up your carbohydrates. Many dieters are on a low carb plan. The bump up replenishes the glycogen stores, kicks your thyroid into action, and boosts your metabolism.

I've learned a lot about re-feeds through trial and error. What has become the most satisfying and successful for me is a very controlled environment at home. Usually when people go to restaurants they end up feeling lots of guilt over their choices.

Here's what the meal is not. It is not an open ended time line. It is not a drunk fest. In fact, if you are drinking alcohol, you might want to check your priorities about competing. It is not a festival of fatty foods. And it is not about how much you can eat over an entire day.

What makes the meal successful is having it as your final meal of the day. Yes, right before bed. Often having it at home, where you can control what you're eating. Eating more of your clean carbs such as sweet potatoes or something you would normally have. Or splurging on a baked potato. Setting a time limit of 45 minutes, or one hour maximum.

Remember that the meal has both psychological and physiological benefits to the dieter. It's something that can be done in a controlled way for people who tend to slip off into the binge category. Your coach can define what is "allowed" for you. This can be very successful.

Don't get all wrapped up in whether or not you should have one. If you are working with someone and this is part of your plan, trust that person. If you've been having one, but can make some (massive) improvements. Make them. Use the tools at your disposal to make you better. No guilt!

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