Don't Touch The Treats: Why We Believe in Treat Meals
Once every week, we encourage all of our clients at FLF to have a treat meal where they eat whatever they want.
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?
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’t” eat.
First Off: Words Matter
Here at Fat Loss Foodies, we prefer the term "treat meals" instead of "reward meals" or "cheat meals." Why?
Food is not a reward - unless you’re a Golden Retriever! ;)
The term "cheat" meal has negative connotations and implies we’re following a strict diet with a long list of rules to be followed.
Our only rule here at FLF is “Do What Works For You” - so we aren't cheating on anything!
4 Reasons 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 plants (vegetables and fruits), protein, healthy fats, legumes, and hypoallergenic grains. These real, whole, nutrient-dense foods - when eaten in the proper amounts - turn down hunger and cravings and give us steady energy.
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.
That doesn't mean we won't feel some negative side effects from some foods (see the next point below for more on this), 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
Most women don't realize how bad their diet makes them feel until they start eating enough of the right foods. When you're eating the right way for you, you are focused, energetic, and balanced. You just feel GOOD.
But 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 old morning go-to. A skinny latte and pastry from the coffee shop.
We say go ahead and have it - and then pay close attention.
Before you can finish the latte, don’t be surprised if you lose interest and wonder, "HOW DID I EAT LIKE THIS FOR SO LONG!?"
Treat foods are valuable teachers in lifestyle change. When sugary/salty/fatty foods become less frequent, their reintroduction brings a noticeable dip in energy and focus, and we often experience a bloated and puffy body from the giant dump of sugar and allergens like dairy, soy, and/or gluten. (You don’t need a diagnosable food allergy to be negatively impacted by these foods.)
Eating treat foods comes with a price. You were always paying it before, 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 all the time 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.
You can't stop holidays or special events or awesomely delicious special foods from coming into your life. Rather than “fall off the wagon” after every holiday or party, we coach our clients to simply make these occasions their weekly treat meal. They get to enjoy a cocktail or piece of cake - if that’s what they really want and decide it’s worth it.
Treat meals give us built-in wiggle room to account for life's special occasions, holidays, and those moments when you just really want a cookie.
After the event is over, we get back to following our template at the very next meal.
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.
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 your fat loss goals. It wants you to survive and doesn't really care about you getting a six-pack.
The harder you work, the harder your body fights back because of the hormonal shit-show you've created by eating less and exercising more.
We do a treat meal to give our bodies a temporary boost in calories - especially from carbohydrates.
Intentional, regular treat meals each week give us the "re-feed" of carbohydrates to reset leptin and keep thyroid healthy. 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, more "fun" 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, highly-processed carbs will be to you. Your palate changes and the foods you once loved now register as too rich, too greasy, too sweet. So maybe your treat meal carbs come from a non-junk foods like a baked potato or some sushi rice. The only rule is to do what works for you, so you can actually do whatever you want:)
The boost in calories from a treat meal prevents metabolic compensation and keeps us trucking right along making progress towards our goals.
One meal a week of total relaxation and enjoyment improves overall compliance to a fat loss diet, and if you’re hitting your template at 80-90% of your meals - 1 meal will not even matter in the grand scheme of things.
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 this Spring.
This is our signature 4-week online program, now in its fifth 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.
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