Flex Meals: How to 'Cheat' Properly

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The temptation is there. We can’t always fight it, especially this time of year with the holidays coming up. So rather than pent up all that resistance, only to let it inevitably spill out in one big regretful moment, learn to give in to the temptation in controlled doses— enough that its actually satisfying, but not so much that you’re hating your very existence the next day. If you’re gonna “cheat,” do it right.

To be clear, we’re talking about food here. I can’t condone cheating in other areas of life, but to each their own.

In fact, I don’t really even condone food “cheating” in the typical sense of the term. As I discussed in my IG Live (which I recorded and posted here - preview for the PODCAST to come!), calling them “cheat meals” implies that you are breaking from a rigid routine, that you aren’t following the rules, that you are a phony-fake-fraud. And that attitude will do nothing but set you up for a crazy unhealthy relationship with food, and create that feeling of failure and resentment whenever you’re tempted by a holiday cookie or hearty bowl of pasta on a cold winter’s night. And before you know it, you’re constantly thinking about food and what you’re “allowed” to have and what you’re not, when you can eat again, how bad can it really be, and never stopping to think about how you actually feel. I highly doubt that kind of mindset feels very good, and when your thoughts literally create your reality, you’re not exactly setting yourself up for success— in anything. See how this all ties in to impact your entire life? It all comes full circle.

But I digress. Back to the cheat meal thing. Rather than say that having an indulgent meal is against the rules, make it a part of the rules: you are allowed to indulge once a week, if you feel so inclined, and have literally whatever you want. Milk, cheese, McDonald’s, pasta, deep fried burger and fries, whatever you want. Let yourself have it, savor every bite, and then you’re done. You enjoyed it, you satisfied that little devil on your shoulder, sent her into a food coma, and now you’re back to your regular ways of healthy, vibrant eating.

The only caveat here is that you don’t fixate on it. It’s not a moment to regret, its a moment to enjoy. It’s not against the rules, its part of the rules, so feel good about it and then move on. A true marker of having a healthy relationship with food, both physically and mentally, is this very concept: that you can feed yourself something not-so-nutritious but oh-so-delicious, but your mind and body are in such a healthy state that it doesn’t throw you off. You bounce right back.

I hope this is making sense, and its likely nothing you haven’t really heard before, but when it was explained to me in this way, it was eye-opening. So let’s not call them “cheat” meals, let’s call them flex meals. Let’s not punish ourselves for having them, but say, “that was fun and now it’s time to chill.” And odds are, you will find yourself excited to get back to your healthy regimen, because you realize how good and energized those wholesome foods make you feel (there’s that word again).

A few other tips to make bouncing back from a flex meal all the easier:

  • keep flex meals at least 48 hours apart

  • drink plenty of water the day of and day after the flex meal

  • keep water intake to a minimum 30 mins before and 90 minutes after the meal

  • get in a good workout the day of the meal

  • take digestive enzymes to help minimize bloating/discomfort