Treat Meals, Cheat Meals and Your Weight

You get home sweaty and accomplished, throw your gym bag down on the floor and think about those Tim Tams in the cupboard. 

Just one won’t hurt.

And you only had one yesterday. You worked out.  It’s ok.  Exercise has pre-eaten your calories, imploded them in on themselves.  You are safe to eat the Tim Tams because “everything in moderation”


Wrong.  Moderation and your concept of it can be the very thing screwing with your weight loss progress.  Let’s crunch some numbers and show ya.

A Tim Tam a day keeps the results away (maybe)

Let’s say, you ate a moderate amount of Tim Tams  - two per day, for a week.  This ends up being 1320 calories. And hey, that might be ok – but if you’re not achieving the result milestones you want, then maybe it’s not ok.

Half a kg of body fat, by calculation burns 3500 calories, so the standard guidelines for weight loss are 500cal deficit per day for 500g loss.  Good sensible guidelines.  But our Tim Tams have eaten up 40% of our possible deficit (assuming we had the 3500 weekly deficit in the first place)

Sure, you exercised – but sorry, you cannot outrun the numbers.

And you cannot outrun the hormonal and metabolic effects of regular treats unless your metabolism is working awesomely.

But I don’t have a Tim Tam every day?

Some days it’s an extra piece of cheese.  Yesterday it was a muffin.  Tomorrow it’s just a few glasses of wine.  I don’t eat Tim Tams every day and anyway – it’s just a little bit.

This is where we get really tripped up.  A ‘little’ treat, quite possibly has a calorie punch that you didn’t even know.  Some of those so called ‘small things’ can fetch up to 200 calories.  Guess what else you can have for 200 calories – over half a kg of pumpkin.   This is why it was only little doesn’t mean anything.

What if I just cheat once a week?

You can do that – but hey, let’s call it a treat shall we and not a cheat.  Humans love being a little naughty, so words like cheating, being bad or naughty tend to fuel the eating fire a lot more than if you just said “I’m having pizza tonight” instead of “I’m having my cheat meal on pizza tonight”.  Humans without food relationship challenges do that – we just call it what it is, its pizza – not a cheat. Would you tell a small child you were taking them out to have a cheat?

Now, about this once a week thing.  Provided you have maintained a calorie deficit, and that deficit is maintained overall for the week then you can still lose weight eating one meal of whatever you fancy.

But is this sustainable?

When will one meal turn into 2, and then 3.  Again, this might be ok – but listen up, we are not just trying to lose weight guys, we are trying to change habits so that you can create a new normal which is an easy maintenance of your healthy trim body.  So if one of those habits to break is treats then sneaking in extra treat meals won’t assist you in changing that desire long term.  Sure , you might still lose weight with the extra treats – but how will this habit affect you long term?

I had a client who drank wine every night while on her program, she lost the weight she wanted but because the habit hadn’t changed, she slowly put the weight back on.  Then when she tried to do it again, it wouldn’t budge – she wouldn’t give up the wine.  Eventually she did, but she replaced it with poor quality food.

That is what we mean by considering where your habits will lead you if you get complacent.

By the way, the difference between a Tim Tam a Day and one binge of let’s say 3 Tim Tams is 1320 vs 285 Tim Tam cals.  Are we saying don’t eat the Tim Tams?  Not at all, we are saying consider how why and when you treat yourself.

Focus less on what to treat with and focus more on how to treat yourself.

How to treat yourself with treats – and respect

Accept that you are working to create a new normal for yourself and this might take time.  The new normal is someone who is not controlled by the ‘treat meal’ and someone who has a good relationship with food.

Treat yourself – find a level of treats that works for you and stick with it.  If it’s only once a week, be ok with that.  Yes some people will get away with more, you are not other people – you are you.

Understand that treats do not bugger up your results.  Too many will, but giving into that one M&M is not a reason for you to lose your shit.

Try to ask your body what it needs and select a healthy option.  If you are craving sweet, then a frozen banana half dipped in dark chocolate might hit the spot instead of that banana cake with chocolate icing.  Also check in and see if you have had enough fluid – dehydration can create sugar cravings.

Food is Fuel and it is also for Celebration (think medieval banquets in the old days etc, weddings and so on).  Are your treats related to this?  Is it really a treat or are you self-medicating.  Just check in with yourself and see if you can reach for what you really need instead.  It might be a hug or perhaps a rest if you’re tired.

If you are a highly social person pick your situation for treating.  Sure, you may be social, but if you want a particular result from your body then you need to accept that some nights you’ll be eating whatever and other nights you get the opportunity to be there for your people AND your body by eating good quality food.

Enjoy your treats, they are part of a balanced diet, just be sensible and respect your body.