Eating Out, Including Treats, and Burning Fat
"Can I include cheat meals and still lose weight?"
I want to first start by discussing the term "cheat" in regards to food. I'm a firm believer in healthy nutritious eating. But I also believe that there is nothing inherently BAD about less nutritious foods when they are a small part of your overall diet. I like to think of nutrition more as a sliding scale not a black and white "healthy and nutritious vs unhealthy and bad for you". So, yes, there are foods that are MORE nutrient dense than others, but less nutritious foods (like donuts and french fries) aren't going to hurt your health and body composition goals when they are a small part of a diet thats filled with mostly nutrient dense choices (like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and some fats). Food is fun- not just fuel. Food is part of our social and geographic cultures. So, viewing food as simply fuel is not a complete or realistic view. And celebrating holidays and truly special events (or even just date nights with friends or loved ones) with unique and "fun" foods can most definitely still be a part of our life- even when working on fat loss.
Having this realization kick in will help you to successfully incorporate some more "fun" foods on occasion without it feeling like you've done something wrong and need to fix it or feel guilty about it. This also helps to prevent the binge and restrict pattern that becomes common when people drastically undereat and/or glorify certain foods as "clean". They then may feel starving and/or trapped in self imposed food rules, and fall victim to binging on those foods they deemed as "bad". Then they restrict or over exercise again, feeling guilty about what they have done and repeat the cycle- often not making any notable progress towards their fat loss goals because they can't stay consistent. While this cycle may not be the case for everyone, it's a common one to consider before starting up a diet filled with rules and restrictions.
So, assuming you have a balanced and reasonable mindset with your nutrition approach, then less nutrient dense meals or food choices here and there can be successfully included as part of a fat loss diet (without the unnecessary guilt).
There are numerous ways you can incorporate these foods:
First- Including a larger "treat" meal on occasion (remember it's not a "cheat"- it's just PART of your overall nutritious diet). Some people like to have planned treat meals on a weekly or every other week basis. Other's would benefit by approaching "treat meals" based on lifestyle circumstances. So, instead of every Friday being a treat meal night no matter what- you could just wait till you feel like you could really use one or it fits into your monthly social events.
Second- Including some small "treats" throughout the week. When I say "treat" it doesn't have to be a dessert- it could be any food that you typically don't eat on a regular basis either because it's calorically dense or less nutritious but something you enjoy eating and would still like to have be