Before getting into the argument of whether or not greasy burgers and fries can have a place in a healthy, balanced lifestyle, I need to say this: I have a problem with cheat meals. It’s not the greasy, salty, high fat, high sugar foods typically associated with cheat meals that I have a problem with, it’s the term itself.
As I’m sure many of you have learned throughout your life, cheating is bad. If you cheat on a test at school, punishments can range from detention to expulsion. If you cheat in sports, you can be disqualified. For most of us, doing something “bad” elicits feelings of guilt. If you have ever cheated on anything, I would be willing to bet that you experienced at least a small amount of guilt. Using the term “cheat meal” implies that your meal is bad and may make you feel guilty for eating it. I am a firm believer that food should be enjoyed. If food is meant to be enjoyed, why do we attach a word with such a negative connotation to it?
Now that I’ve ranted to you about cheat meals (thanks for sticking with me), we can get back to our original question. At this point, I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that I wouldn’t call a burger and fries a cheat meal. However, you may be surprised when I say that I would consider it part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Let me explain.
A healthy lifestyle is more than just physical health. In fact, there are 7 dimensions of wellness that contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle:
Having a burger and fries may not contribute much to your physical health, but it may positively impact your social wellness by allowing you to eat out with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you consume these foods frequently, but I do believe they have a place in a healthy lifestyle.
Some people follow the 80/20 rule where 80% of the time they eat healthy, and 20% of the time they choose foods that are considered less healthy. However, this is just a guideline and you will find what works best for you. Maybe you are more comfortable with a 90/10 split, or maybe you would prefer 70/30. Regardless, it is important to remember that taking care of your social and emotional health is arguably just as important as your physical health.
For more information on Cheat Meals/Cheat Days, watch this ESN video with Ben and Alysha!
Remember: ENJOY your burgers and fries, just not to the extreme like Patrick over here: