“Cheat meals” is one of those phrases thrown around amongst folks who follow regimented plans (counting calories and only allowing X-amount of calories a day) and even folks who are on Weight Watchers. I’ve never understood the concept of a cheat meal. I’ve learned with Weight Watchers food is food and I can have ANYTHING I want as long as it’s in moderation and I correctly (or in the case of not being sure – guestimate [and I usually try to aim higher than lower just to be on the safe side] the points for it) the points plus values for it. I personally know the damage I could do in a day and I know that one day or even one meal of unaccountability would allow me to have multiple days of “ohhh I’ll be 100% good tomorrow.” It’s just the way my mind works. I’ll tell myself I’ll do better tomorrow and tomorrow comes, something out of the ordinary will happen and it’ll end up the next day. The natural born procrastinator and stubborn teenager in me comes out, sticks her and extended fingers in the air and says “neener, neener, neener.”
Why don’t I believe in cheat meals? Well, I believe in accountability and I know that life happens. I wouldn’t be able to have a day where I don’t count points all day OR for a single meal and have a good week thereafter. Life happens, unexpected plans arise and I would hate to be sent into panic mode if my pre-planned dinner of BBQ steak turned into Chinese food with the family. I could see myself say “but I just ate this, that and the other on Sunday … I just, I can’t go.” Doing that a few times over would essentially make me throw in the towel because it would make portions of life unmanageable and I’d have to face the scale as it crept up and up and up. I realize that there isn’t a solid meal on the planet that I cannot have. I can have anything I want, anytime I want it, wherever I want it. If I can’t find what I want at a restaurant, I can go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients and make it (or as closely to it) at home.
Am I completely 100% strict with my Weight Watchers meals? Of course not. Why? Because this is a lifestyle and there are things that I enjoy and without them I’d be miserable and would simply stomp my feet on the ground and give up (again, stubborn child coming out again). I am a natural born snacker, always have been and probably always will be but I’m okay with that. Why? Because I’ve learned that I can eat my favorite snacks, but I’m aware of portion sizes, points plus values and I know what is worth it for me. It may not be worth it to everyone, but if it’s worth it for me, that makes me happy and makes the plan work for me - as it should for everyone. For parties and events where I know point values for foods are higher than I’d normally consume, I am allowed 49 weekly points to allow myself to engage and enjoy myself without having any feelings of remorse or guilt. The points are there and they are built into the plan to be used – but it’s up to each member to have their own system on how to use them, or if they are even going to.
Another reason I don’t believe in cheat meals is because I’ve calculated that in my pre-Weight Watchers life I could very easily eat 114 (more or a little less) points plus values IN A SINGLE DAY. That 114 only includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and does not include any snacks, or extra goodies I may have consumed while at work or at a family event. My coffee alone, pre-Weight Watchers was 8 points plus (to be honest, it’s more than 8 but I can’t figure out the exact points because I always ordered a large ice coffee with extra, EXTRA cream and sugar). A day filled of “cheat” would send me into a literal free-for-all. Nothing would be off limits. I’d eat things purely just to eat them. Not to enjoy them, but just because “I haven’t had that in a long time.” That one day would cause me to pay for the rest of my week – needless to say I’d feel sick as a dog for 3-days afterwards.
I do go out to eat and when I know ahead of time I check the company’s website for nutritional information. If I can’t find any, I look at their menu and try to decide what I want before we even get there. Once I’ve decided I look up similar meals online, compare them and get the points plus values for that similar meal from a company that does offer nutritional information. Granted, the ingredients may not always be the same so I do add a few extra points towards it to be on the safe side. I rather estimate over than estimate under.
Eating out is a treat because I don’t do it very often. I’ve never been a big restaurant person – even pre-WW, so when I do eat at a restaurant it’s nice and it’s different My “eating out” has typically always been fast food establishments and ordering pizza and sandwiches because it was quick, easy and generally on my way to whatever destination I was heading to. I admit, being so far into my journey I do sometimes become a points plus value snob. I look at something and think “I could make that at home for so many less points and I’d have so much more on my plate.” I love to cook (which is completely a new thing to me because 3+ years ago I could make a pack of Ramen noodles and a frozen pizza and thought I was Chef Shannon). I love to experiment with new dishes and new flavors, but what I love the most is taking some of my favorite dishes and cutting back on them, making them healthier and making them point friendlier. All of these allowing me to be accountable and allow me to know exactly what I am putting in my mouth. I'm not saying in order to be successful you need to cook your own meals, etc., I'm just saying that in order for me to be successful I need to be accountable to myself. I need to find what works for me and what doesn't and always keep those in mind because old bad habits die hard and they can creep back up on me at any given moment. I was overweight for 25+ years of my life and that mentality can creep back up on me and I just know the damage I could cause in one single un-tracked meal. But I also know that once I'm "off plan" it takes about a week to get back on plan.
Needless to say cheat meals aren’t my thing. They never will be because they’ll only get me going in one direction… back peddling.