First let's talk about what a 'CHEAT' is and then...how to 'CHEAT'.
A cheat is something outside of your 'set guidelines' or something that you just know would not be a good habit to eat. Usually comprised of sugar and/or grains, legumes or dairy. Thinking about it all can be more work than actually eating it. Keep it real.
Knowing where your health is or what your goals are is really a key factor. If you have a health issue that would require some guidelines that are fairly strict, your choice of 'cheat's would be different.
So...what does it mean to cheat?
Also called a Gratitude or Grace meal. You might have them planned or let them linger for a 'treat'. I would recommend not labeling your cheats as treats. Otherwise you have the perception that it is better than what is really the good stuff! Also, you definition of cheats will change as your eating habits change. I once had a friend tell me, 'Your junk food is my health food!" Perspective.
Now...how should you cheat?
Again, know yourself. How does your body react.
- If eating wheat based cookies/pastry and oatmeal means that your joints hurt or you wake up with a food hangover, choose gluten free cookies/baked goods or rice cereal.
- Drinking too much alcohol ruins your workout the next day, cut back on volume, choose a different drink, eat first or pace yourself. Enjoy, but don't go off the deep end, just because it is a cheat.
What it doesn't mean is that you should completely fall off the wagon and gorge yourself with chemicals and toxins. But, if that is where you are, you might need that experience to know what the difference is. Enjoy your choices rather than over indulge.
There are so many tempting choices these days! Organic, quality ingredients, healthier sources of our former cheat foods, if you are going to go for it, don't dump the dirty stuff in your body as well. You body will have to 'crisis manage' what you ate and just when think it is safe to cheat again...you are just about back to a balance...BAM! Another assault. Be smarter than that.
We often talk ourselves into doing something, with some funky reason that only makes sense in that moment. The go crazy cheat day philosophy is popular among many out there. In my opinion, that allows for a huge reaction of circulating immune complexes and inflammation if your body cannot tolerate it. It's like getting a scab and ripping it off every few days...how is that suppose to heal? Ever...and what kind of scar is that leaving? What body system or organ is it damaging, slowly but surely?
Is it your choice?
Yes. If your body no longer requires an addiction to sugar/chemicals and otherwise un-natural foods, your metabolism has been re-engaged enough to clean up and process an occasional blast from the past, you will likely be able to process out most of it and re-balance without a destructive pattern.
Well, now let's look at your compliance.
Based on 5 meals a day over a 7 day week = 35 meals a week
35 meals a week (B/S/L/S/D)
I wouldn't count pre/post workout liquid drinks, but meals yes which would be closer to a snack size.
95% = 2 meals a week
90% = 4 meals a week
85% = 5 meals a week
80% = 7 meals a week
100% NO CHEATS
Not going outside your chosen guidelines
Some people actually do much better with cheats when they enjoy one or two in the same day, do not have a reaction to them and are not focused on it as a cheat with an emotional attachment. A little one every day just is a distraction most of the time and can snowball into bad habits. Give your body some time to balance and look at HOW you define a cheat. There is so much wonderful food out there that not only tastes delicious but has many health benefits as a bonus! You don't have to go backwards.
Now, if you are only 80% compliant, well you'll really need to consider what your guidelines are because cheating daily will not get you into an optimally healthy state.
Macro Nutrient Ratio