Cheat meals… Who needs ’em? No, I mean seriously… do we ‘need’ them?
A couple of years ago I remember Chris Rock stating that Americans have too much. He said it was evident from the rise in food intolerances that Americans have too much. He then asked how Somalians would react if packages of powdered milk were dropped off in regions where the people had little food… He queried whether or not they would refuse the milk on the basis that they were lactose intolerant.
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Westerners are privileged to be able to eat for desire as opposed to necessity. It’s only when one embarks on a performance based diet that our emotional dependence on food is exposed.
…and boy is it ever exposed.
At its simplest, a meal should consist of protein, carbohydrates and fats which provide essential vitamins and minerals, right? However, due to social conditioning, we have all these stipulations on what a meal is. For some it’s the temperature of the food that defines it as a meal, for others it’s the inclusion of dessert, for others it’s the type of macronutrient that determines which meal it is and the list goes on.(1)
Caption: Meal or Snack?
This is where the concept of the cheat meal comes into the argument:
For anyone who is undergoing a strict nutrition regime, the changes can be mentally arduous. In many cases, people have to challenge the social conditioning that has occurred for decades. Like Pavlov’s dog, there seems to be a physiological reaction that accompanies certain stimuli. In my case, lunch and dinner do not feel complete unless they are sealed with a sweet dish of some sort. Apparently this is due to my upbringing in America. In order to overcome this, I have begun doing the following after some meals:
- Gargling with artificially flavoured mouthwash.
- Eating a little sugar free jello or drinking hot sugar-free Robinsons squash to convince the brain that the meal is done.
Hopefully these are just interim measure until my brain creates new patterns.
Caption: “Food for many a Westerner is like a scent”
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Food for many a Westerner is like a scent. It has an emotional stamp which is where the cheat meal and the concept of rewards come into play.
I do believe that cheat meals have a physiological benefit as well. Using myself as an example (again) – I LOVE chocolate! Hotel Chocolate and Green and Black are top of the list. After going for long periods of time without chocolate, when I do eat it, the sensation is phenomenal and I only need a little to satisfy the sweet tooth. Anything over “a little” and I begin to feel ill. This is great news (- as odd as THAT sounds)! It means that overtime, my body will adapt mentally, physically and emotionally to chocolate so that it can be incorporated sparingly (- when I’m not prepping for shows that is). In this sense, the cheat meal is working to reconditioning my approach to chocolate.
I’ve also heard rumours that they cheat meal can sometimes shock the body into increasing the metabolism which does make sense. I have no personal experience with such however.
Caption: Don’t let this be true about you!
img src: my.opera.com/hungryghost/blog/One thing I have learned about the cheat meal is that it needs to be sensible. If your diet has no dairy or gluten because you are intolerant to them, eating a cheat meal with dairy and gluten is just dumb. FACT! If the portion sizes in your diet are moderate, eating a ‘super sized’ meal is just dumb. FACT!
Caption: The human body is an amazing machine
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The human body is an amazing machine – as is the brain that controls it. It is down to each individual to find the ‘cheat meal’ solution that works for them and take ownership of their neuro-linguistic association with food.
Take ownership TODAY!
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1. Wansink, Payne, Shimizu. “Is this a meal or snack?” Situational cues that drive perceptions. Appetite. 2010 Feb;54(1):214-6. Epub 2009 Oct 4.