For optimum and effective weight loss, you have to make certain cutbacks in your diet and that means saying a big NO to junk food, colas, packets of chips. However, skipping out on all this and saying no to your cravings can be difficult too. That’s where cheat meals come in. From Deepika Padukone to Dwayne Johnson, everybody has a favourite cheat meal that they can’t refuse. It is definitely okay to cheat on your diet once in a while, as long as you don’t overdo it. While cheat meals are an amazing way to stay on track with your goals, how much of it is really okay? What is the ideal portion size? Chole bhaturey, biryani, chocolate, ice-cream or pizza, which is a better choice? How many cheat meals can you really have, without putting a damper on your weight loss goals? Time to settle the debate! How to use cheat meals for weight loss By “allowing” you to cheat on your diet in a scheduled manner, this dietary hack allows you to give in to your cravings, while at the same time having a rather nutritious and healthy diet and not hampering your weight loss efforts at all. According to science, cheat meals also offer another great benefit which can help weight watchers. It can recharge or reactivate the slowed down metabolism, which often happens, when you reach the weight loss plateau. Cheat meals also help you psychologically to stay aligned towards the goal. Regularly cheating on your diet allows people to stick to their diet and make conscious efforts to not give in to their cravings on other days. But, it can make some feel “guilty” for skipping a healthy diet or only make them think about their next cheat day instead of focussing on adopting a healthier and intuitive diet in general. If you spot signs of such behavior, you might not be actually losing weight but falling prey to an eating disorder. A cheat meal or cheat day can only be right if it ticks these three options: -It does not make you feel guilty or negative after eating. -It does not make you want to give in to another bite or serving of “unhealthy” foods on the same day. -It makes you stay aligned with your goals. Ideally, it should be easy for you to pick yourself right after the meal and not look back. What is the ideal number? If on a serious weight-loss mission, cheat meals can help you speed up your mission only if you follow this rule. Ideally, you should aim to eat healthy 90% of the time, leaving the rest 10% for snacking and other indulgences. If you eat three times a day and are able to maintain a calorie deficit, allowing room for a bite of chocolate won’t do you much damage. This way, you will find it easier to adopt a more holistic approach to losing weight for good. A good way to go about is to maintain a journal or tracker, write down what you eat and the number of calories they individually carry. This will help you stick to your diet and not go overboard. When you start tracking your food, it helps plan your indulgences better and stick to the calorie deficit you need to maintain throughout the day, without feeling too guilty about it. Remember, moderation is the key. Another good way to use cheating to your benefit is to stick to the same cheat meal every time. According to experts, having a consistent diet, or having the same go-to cheat meal can actually be good for your gut health, not disturb the GI tract and ease up the process of weight loss.