Hi Hayley!

I'm wondering what your stance is on cheat meals. I found an eating plan that I like and it advises eating healthy, non-processed food Monday through Friday, then having two cheat meals on the weekends. I find it easier to cut out processed food when I know I can indulge at the end of the week. Plus, I feel like I never truly have to cut anything out this way. But I worry about undoing my progress or letting a cheat meal turn into a cheat day. So what's better- a little dark chocolate after dinner each night or no sugar during the week and a big slice of chocolate cake on the weekend?


I am not a fan of the term “cheat meals”, as to me it is as if you know you are doing something wrong and eating things that you should not be eating. Some people call it a treat, but that can make it seem like what you are eating is a reward, which again is not the right way to look at it.

To me, it is best to adopt the 80/20 way of living, where 80% of the time you are eating the best you can and filling your body with foods that are nutrient rich, and 20% of the time you are simply pleasing the taste buds. This does not mean that 20% of the time you get to eat fried foods or foods that are full of sugar, but it is ok to go out with your girlfriends and have a savoury brunch on a Sunday morning, or munch away on buttery popcorn at the movie theatre. 

So what is better: the chocolate cake on the weekend or a piece of dark chocolate every day? Neither. If it is something you feel you must have, a reward or treat that is necessary to make you happy, then there is a bigger problem. Life should never be about deprivation because if you take something away, it can have the adverse effect and make you want it more. On the flipside, however, we cannot have everything we want all the time. 

What we must do is to learn to create healthy relationships with food and not feel like we need that “cheat meal” or that we are constantly craving foods that are “bad” for us. We should be able to attend a party without wanting to consume every last morsel of food that is being served as well as wake up the next morning and not feel in debt to the food gods and have to spend an hour on the treadmill undoing all the bad that was done.  

Simply change your mind set and look at food differently. Understand that you cannot indulge all the time, but when you do it is ok and it is not going to undo all of the work that you accomplished that week. If you can have the piece of chocolate cake, or the dark chocolate every night, without thinking it is bad, yet knowing that you should not be eating it all the time, to me, that’s fine.

Attached - Lea Michele leaving a yoga class yesterday.