Once every week or two, we encourage all of our clients at FLF to have a treat meal where they eat whatever they want.
That may seem counterintuitive since we are FAT LOSS nutrition coaches.
How is this possible? How do you lose fat and still enjoy your favorite treats? Don't you have to eat egg whites and chicken breasts and broccoli and fat-free yogurt to get a rockin' body?
HECK NO, girl - who told you that nonsense?
Treat meals are KEY if you're a Fat Loss Foodie. In this article, you'll learn "why" behind why we do what we do - and how we handle the foods you think you can never eat again if you want to get leaner.
First Off: Words Matter
Here at Fat Loss Foodies, we prefer the term "treat meals" instead of "reward meals" or "cheat meals." Why?
Because we do not need to be "rewarded" with food. We're not Golden Retrievers.
As for the term "cheat" meals - what are we cheating on again exactly? It's not like we're on some strict diet with a long list of rules to be followed, so we aren't cheating on anything.
Why Fat Loss Foodies Believe in Treat Meals
1. It De-stigmatizes Food.
Food is just food.
At FLF, we focus on eating more of the right foods more often. Eighty to 90 percent of what we eat is animal protein, plants (vegetables and fruits), healthy fats, and limited amounts of dairy, legumes (cooked properly to aid digestion) and hypoallergenic grains. These whole, nutrient-dense foods - when eaten in the proper amounts - turn down hunger and cravings and give us steady energy.
But donuts? French macarons? Rice krispie treats? Sushi rolls? Brownies? Pizza?
COME ON. We love our protein shakes and our omelets stuffed with kale and goat cheese as much as the next fit girl, but life without EVER having another cookie or sushi roll or slice of cake? Not worth living if you ask us.
When we allow ourselves to mindfully indulge in the occasional treat, it's a great reminder that food is fun, abundant, and not scary. Now, that doesn't mean we won't feel some negative side effects from some foods(See #2 ), but it does means we can enjoy foods we deem "worth it" and move on without beating ourselves up for being bad, breaking our diet, not eating clean, etc.
After all, it's just food.
2. Food Hangovers are Great Teachers
When you start eating like a Fat Loss Foodie, you are eating a high protein, high fiber diet that is low in sugar. You're not used to eating loads of dairy, white flour, white sugar - especially in large quantities - and your body reminds you REALLY quickly why you don't eat like that all the time.
Most women don't realize how bad their diet makes them feel until they clean it up and/or starting eating enough of the right foods. When you're eating the right way for you, you are focused, energetic, and balanced. You just feel - well, GOOD.
After eating like a Fat Loss Foodie for a couple weeks, it's normal to get nostalgic for something you used to eat: like your morning skinny latte and pastry from the coffee shop.
Go ahead. Have it. But I can promise you, before you can finish the latte you'll be thinking, "HOLY COW HOW DID I EAT LIKE THIS FOR SO LONG!?"
The increased energy and mental focus you've been enjoying is gone. You're hungry and craving carbs for the rest of the day. You may even feel bloated and puffy from the giant dump of sugar and allergens (dairy, soy, and/or gluten) into your body.
That latte and pastry just taught you a valuable lesson: Eating that food comes with a price. You were always paying it, you just felt so bad all the time that you thought it was normal. You didn't realize how good you were supposed to feel.
The treat meal just schooled you on why you don't eat that way any more.
3. It Makes Your FLF Lifestyle Sustainable
The treats are part of the plan.
I REPEAT: THE TREATS. ARE PART. OF THE PLAN.
Part of what makes diets suck so much is that they cut out everything that tastes amazing and shrink your portions to toddler-esque sizes. They also come with timelines.
You're on the diet. Then something happens like a bridal shower or a birthday party or the holidays. You have a cocktail, then some cake, and now - you've fallen off the wagon!! (The wagon is my favorite lol.)
Unless you're a Fat Loss Foodie.
In these situations, we say, "Oh you had some cake at your friend's bridal shower? How was it?"
If it was amazing and worth every bite, then we say rock on! That's awesome! Now get back to following your template at your very next meal. Yay for having a friend with great taste in cake lol! Carry on! (If it wasn't worth it, now you know for next time: "No thanks!")
You can't stop holidays or special events or awesomely delicious special foods from coming into your life - so why fight them? We build wiggle room into our lifestyle to account for life's special occasions, holidays, and those moments when you just really want a cookie.
4. Treats Can Prevent - and Help Break - Plateaus
There are two things you MUST do to lose fat and keep it off:
1. Create a caloric deficit.
2. Balance your hormones.
After a few days or weeks of being in a slight caloric deficit, you may be excited by the results you're seeing. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, your body is making other plans via your hormones.
You may have experienced this phenomenon in the past when trying a new diet:
You were gung-ho at first, following the plan! Feeling amazing! Getting results!Then, all of a sudden, you're like a bottomless pit and can't get full. You're craving sugar and carbs. You lose the motivation to train. Your weight loss stalls out and no matter how much more you exercise or how much less you eat, your body isn't budging.
This is what's known as Metabolic Compensation - the slowing down of the metabolism based on less energy available to the body.
Leptin is a hunger hormone produced in the fat cells, and it acts like your body's long-term built-in fuel gauge. The more fat you have, the more leptin you have. The less body fat you have, the less leptin you have.
Leptin also works with your thyroid to control your body's energy expenditure.
When leptin is low, hunger is high and energy output decreases.
This is your body working against you.
The harder you work, the harder your body fights back because of the hormonal shit-show you've created by eating less, exercising more, and not giving your body a temporary boost in calories (especially from carbohydrates) to tell your body, "JUST KIDDING - THERE'S FOOD HERE. You can carry on now." (If you want to read the serious, science-y version of this "hormonal cascade effect," check out this article from Poliquin Group.)
This is why we have intentional treat meals each week, to give us the "re-feed" of carbohydrates, to reset leptin, and to keep our thyroid from getting pissed off and ruining everything. These carbohydrates can be in the form of whole foods-based carbs (you'll probably feel better physically if you pick this option) or it can come from other stuff. We recommend experimenting with and employing both options. In fact, the longer you live this lifestyle and eat like a Fat Loss Foodie, the less appealing those junky, processed foods will be to you.
I know. It's January. Everyone is all about what they can't eat and counting the days they have left on their diet.
That doesn't have to be you. If you're ready to make a change, you can start TODAY. Food shouldn't be stressful or make you unhappy.
If you've been dieting non-stop, and pushing it hard in the gym, and nothing is moving, you might need to chill the eff out, have some pancakes, and then get back to business.
If you want to learn more about how to live a Fat Loss Foodie lifestyle - how to eat for fat loss, make real food taste good and be successful at long-term body change, the next round of Fat Loss Cooking School starts on February 12.
This is our signature 4-week online program, now in its fourth year!
You'll work with the FLF team for 4 weeks and learn the science of hormonal fat loss AND how to crush your goals by eating food that tastes good and makes you do happy dances in your kitchen. And yes, your kids, husband, boyfriend, partner, roommates will start asking for these recipes, too. (Happens. Every. Time.)
In Fat Loss Cooking School, we have fun (probably too much...) and we don't do rules. There's no list of "approved" foods or "thou shalt nots." We give you the facts and let you choose what you eat based on your metabolism, your activity level, and your personal preferences.
Registration is open NOW through February 11 and you can learn more about FLCS here:
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop us a line at LeslieAnn@FatLossFoodies.com!
Learn More from these Sources
Refeeds for Fat Loss: The Science Behind Leptin - Bodybuilding.com
How to Maintain Weight Loss and Beat Weight Loss Resistance - Metabolic Effect
Ten Tips to Tame Your Hunger Hormones - Poliquin Group