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Untracked Meal vs. Cheat Meal

The term “cheat meal” is widely used, both in the health and fitness space and also just in everyday life. People often term a certain meal a “cheat” meal when it meets one of these criteria – a meal they are consuming mindlessly, a meal they don’t want to take responsibility for, a meal where they want to feel complete freedom to eat/consume whatever they want, a reward. I’m sure there are even more things you can add to this list, but as coaches in this industry and working with hundreds of clients over the years…these seem to be the common denominators.

Today’s post is meant to provide some clarity around the difference between a “cheat” meal and an untracked meal. We’ve found that these phrases are sometimes used interchangeably when in fact they are not the same thing at all. If you want a quick refresher, we covered all things untracked meals on our last blog posts here. It would be super useful to have some background information on this before continuing with this post, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what we, as coaches, define an untracked meal.


Here's the thing – we don’t care for the term cheat meal. In fact, as coaches, whenever we hear a new client bring this up, we want to quickly educate them and perhaps clarify what they are truly asking…and here’s a breakdown of how we approach that kind of conversation.

A cheat meal inherently means that you are doing something wrong or bad. The word cheat really only holds negative meaning (any way it may be used, not just relating to food). And as coaches, the LAST thing we want is for our clients to look at a certain food or meal or action as wrong or bad. This avenue of thinking can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and possibly disordered eating if not addressed. Instead, we created this comparison chart to help clients (and followers in general) to better understand what they are actually doing when they have a cheat meal versus simply NOT tracking a meal.

So there you have it – some pretty stark differences when comparing the two. Two of our coaches, Jacky and Brittany, talk more about this over on our Instagram – so be sure to check out that conversation here and how they navigate this conversation and explanation with clients.

Next time you feel inclined to use the phrase “cheat meal” – think twice! Take a minute to determine what kind of outcome you want from this specific meal and maybe evaluate your mindset. You may be surprised at how you approach that meal differently.

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