During your endeavor to improve your diet, strengthen your body, and improve your overall sense of well-being, keeping up with your healthy habits constantly with no break can be difficult. In fact, allowing yourself no room for error when you’re trying to keep up your progress can end up being your downfall. That being said, the best way to avoid unintended slip ups is to essentially plan that “error” by scheduling a cheat meal for yourself. There are right ways and wrong ways to do this, so here’s a practical guide to mastering the art of the cheat meal.

Why Schedule a Cheat Meal?

First off, it’s helpful to know why a cheat meal actually benefits your diet and exercise plan. Allowing yourself a cheat meal helps keep your hormones that determine your level of satiety regular, which helps you maintain your normal diet. Psychologically speaking, indulging in a cheat meal is a great way to give yourself further motivation. When you know you have your cheat meal waiting for you, it can seem less tedious to keep up with your diet. Your cheat meal is also a good way of rewarding yourself for sticking to your normal diet and workout plan.

Make Sure it’s a Cheat Meal, Not a Cheat Day

It’s important to note that when you have your cheat meal, it should be kept to only one meal. If you allow yourself to go crazy with your food the whole day, you can end up undoing a lot of the progress you made throughout the week. All of those extra calories will not only add up to fat gain, but they will also make you sluggish when you attempt to return to the gym the next day. Keeping your cheat meal isolated to one meal per week achieves a good balance where you can give yourself a reward, keep up your motivation, and regulate your satiety hormones while also minimizing the impact to your health.

Stick to Quality Ingredients

When you enjoy your tasty cheat meal, do your best to avoid highly processed foods that contain harmful chemicals and artificial preservatives. For instance, if you’re going to enjoy a big juicy steak, use pasture-raised grass fed beef - odds are you will enjoy the taste better too! Not to mention, if you are used to eating high-quality food for your regular diet, eating highly processed foods may lead to major stomach ache. The same goes for if you have dessert with your cheat meal. Instead of buying a piece of cake from the store made with artificial food dyes and trans fats, bake one at home using your own quality ingredients. Another option is to make an extra tasty nutrition shake using your Helimix shaker cup for your dessert.

It can be easy to feel guilty about your cheat meal or to think of it as counter intuitive. Instead of thinking of it as a break in your diet, think of it as an essential part of maintaining your diet. Schedule it weekly during a time that makes sense for you and make it a point to not miss it. When you include your cheat meal as part of your diet plan, you’ll set yourself up for success in the long-term.