THE BLOG
02/07/2014 01:26 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

The Power of the YOLO Meal

First appeared on Food Riot, by Kit Steinkellner

One of my current favorite internet personalities is Cassey Ho, otherwise know as Blogilates, a virtual fitness and healthy eating guru for the 21st century. While I rarely find the motivation/dedication to do her YouTube workout videos (I need to go to a physical class and be peer pressured into building muscles), I really like her recipes and her YouTube series "Cheap, Clean Eats" and I really like her blog posts, which often contain kernels of philosophical wisdom regarding her approach to living the life of a health gangster.

One of my favorite Blogilates inventions/inspirations is the concept of the "YOLO Meal." (For those of you who are here on the internet for the first time, that's an acronym for "You Only Live Once" and is often the justification for life choices like skydiving and bad boyfriends.)

Ho explains the concept in this video below.

Key points she hits:

*A "YOLO Meal" is a traditionally unhealthy food (like "Pizza, ice cream, french fries, more ice cream) that is an important part of a healthy diet because "eating clean is supposed to be a lifestyle, not like being in dieting jail."

*It's a "positive twist" on a "cheat meal", the unhealthy meal you get to eat once a week.

* She emphasizes that these meals are often meals you eat with friends, meals you eat in celebration, and it's a meal you usually plan in advance and spend the week looking forward to.

I think this concept is seriously the E=mc2 of dieting (come on, SOMETHING has to be the E=mc2 of dieting). It's a way of having that fatty, salty, crunchy, sweet, sticky, creamy, whatever-makes-you-happy-to-be-eating-food-y meal every week while sticking to your health goal guns. If you're making a change in how you eat, you're creating new habits and figuring out a new regimen for your life, so whatever you incorporate needs to be regimented as well. It's too confusing to say "Just eat healthy most of the time," that feels vague and overwhelming. Planning one crazy meal a week is a caveat to the regimen that feels exciting without being excessive.

It's been about two months (since the start of December) since I started limiting myself to one YOLO meal a week. And yes, that means I eat a lot less unhealthy food, and yes, it means I have to work a lot harder to find lots of healthy foods I do like, and I was expecting all that, but what I wasn't expecting was this: YOLO meals taste better than ANY MEAL ON THE PLANET.

For example, a hamburger used to be "A pretty good food that I ate when I was feeling hungry and maybe a little bit sad that left me feeling not hungry anymore and slightly less sad." Now a hamburger is A WONDER OF WONDERS, A MIRACLE OF MIRACLES. I had a black and white cookie last week and I know this is going to sound crazy, but whatever, I'm okay with that, it was like this borderline-religious experience. By limiting pizza-french-fries-ice-cream-more-pizza to a once-a-week-deal, I taste these foods the way I've never tasted them before. They taste so much better than I thought they could ever possibly taste. So yes, I am eating lots less of these food, but I'm learning to get excited about vegetables or whatever, and then when my YOLO meal comes along, it makes me so much happier than these kinds of foods ever used to, and that happiness lingers for days after.

So yes, this kind of meal requires some habit-forming and self-disciplining and all that other stuff no one ever wants to do. But it is a viable way of eating and living. Or let me put it this way, six days out of the week it's viable, and then one day out of the week it's the best thing since sliced bread. But don't make sliced bread your YOLO meal. You can do better than that.

Anyone practicing these eating habits? Or want to? Or shudder at the thought? And more importantly- WHAT'S YOUR YOLO MEAL? I have twenty-five, but if I had to pick one, I have been known to say "I could eat french fries until I threw up." And I mean it, too.

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