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By Cat Sharp

Why I Don't Plan Cheat Meals

You’ve probably heard lots of different arguments about cheat meals or treat meals. Should you, or should you not, take a little break from your healthy eating plan once in a while? Don’t the experts say that it’s good for you and your body to do that?

Many of them do. And I’m not arguing with them or their knowledge. I’m saying that cheat, or treat meals, are a horrible thing for me and many women like me. Let me explain.

While on a healthy eating plan, I would look at the plan and find out how often I can treat. Sometimes it calls for once a week, I’ve even seen plans calling for small ones up to three times a week (heck, yeah!). Then I would start planning.

I can treat on Saturday, so we’ll have pizza. And maybe a cookie. So I would buy stuff for pizza and cookies when I shopped on Tuesday.

Then starting Wednesday morning, I would hear that all too familiar tempting voice reminding me of what I have in the cabinet. It tempts me to eat it early. Or to prepare it early, which only leads to more temptation. Or it’s all I can think about until I finally DO eat it.

I learned this the hard way and stopped buying treat stuff early, so instead, I would plan on pizza and a cookie on Saturday, but wait until Saturday to go get it. But then on Wednesday, one of the kids might get sick and I had to take her to the doctor, eating out instead of my pre-planned lunch. Or the boss might call in lunch for everyone and I eat pizza for lunch. Or I would try a new recipe that is totally horrible, and I end up eating a bowl of cereal for dinner. Something like that.

And I beat myself up, because Saturday is treat meal day, and here I am screwing things up on Wednesday.

And I beat myself up, because Saturday is treat meal day, and here I am screwing things up on Wednesday.

As you read this, you are either thinking that I am completely mental, or you’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh, it’s not just me!!!” So if you’re the one that is happy to hear that you’re not alone, keep reading.

Every time I think I can plan ahead for a treat/cheat meal, I hear this Scripture in my head: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14 ESV) I’m not saying that this verse is specifically about treat meals, and that no one should ever plan ahead for a treat. I don’t think it says that at all! But I do think that the Holy Spirit is telling me that because of my human tendency to make food into an idol, I have to be particularly careful of how I think about it. And planning ahead to indulge in something for taste instead of nourishment puts me in the danger zone for unnecessary temptation.

What I Do Instead

Plan to Stay On Track

I do not plan cheat or treat meals. I do not plan ahead for a day or meal or snack to eat off plan. I plan on eating on plan every meal, every day.

Because life happens. I don’t have to create opportunities to jump off plan; life brings opportunities every day. I just have to be picky about which ones I take advantage of.

For instance, in the last week I have had a meal at church, a dinner out with friends, and a jewelry making party with my bestie. I also had 2 days where I didn’t feel well and didn’t want to cook. So out of the last 7 days, 5 of them have offered me chances to jump off plan. If I had set my mind on one of them as THE treat time, I would have gone crazy, or beat myself up on the other 4 days as I tried to decide what to do. Instead, I gave myself the freedom to make choices based on what my body needs – nourishment. And I had a good, successful weight loss week.

how do I decide which treat opportunities I should take advantage of?

I ask myself a few questions:

When was my last treat?

If I have already had more than one in the last 7 days, the answer is no. Eat on plan unless there is absolutely no way I can get to healthy food soon. (Let’s be honest. This is a very unlikely situation!!)

What are my options?

Do I have good, healthy, nourishing options available? If so, I take them. The next situation may only have junk available, so I want to leave some wiggle room.

How will I feel about this decision tomorrow?

I know, it’s cliche, but it’s a very powerful question! I don’t want to feel bad physically or emotionally if I can help it, so I’m going to do everything I can to protect myself when I can!

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