Cheat days were not part of the popular dieting culture when I was trying to lose my 150 pounds. When I was on Weight Watchers, the leader never talked about cheat days and neither did any other diet guru I had followed.
A few years after I had reached my goal weight, I started hearing about cheat days. Now I see them mentioned rather frequently on blogs I read and the concept of cheat days always makes me think twice.
I never had specified cheat days during my weight loss journey but that doesn’t mean I was perfect. Quite frankly, I made less than perfect choices now and then during the 14 months it took me to drop 150 pounds, but I mostly tried to be consistent with both my food and exercise. I occasionally made the conscious choice to eat some dessert, a piece of candy, or a small bag of chips, but I never purposefully set aside a period of time to “cheat” and eat whatever food I thought I wanted.
What is It?
The best definition I can come up with is that a cheat day gives the person who is trying to lose weight the opportunity to consume foods that are normally off limits. It could last a whole day, or maybe just take place during one meal.
The dieting person might actually “save up” some extra calories if they knew they were going out to eat, or put some calories in “reserve” for a special dessert. Other dieters might not “save” calories, but just allot themselves a day to eat without guilt.
Here are my thoughts:
♦ I believe that if you feel the need to add in a cheat day to your weight loss journey, you might be having a hard time accepting your new way of eating as a permanent lifestyle change. If you really are changing your life, then there is no reason to cheat because you are just living your life. The honest truth is living your life sometimes includes eating cake, making less than stellar choices, or splurging on a restaurant meal.
♦ Cheat days might just set the dieter up for failure. If you have had a hard time controlling your refined sugar intake or crave “junk food,” then giving yourself a cheat day might actually backfire. You may find yourself craving those types of foods more strongly after a cheat day, which might just cause you to quit your diet completely.
♦ Cheat days might cause you to obsess about “off limits” foods. Let’s assume that you make great, clean food choices Sunday thru Friday, but every day of the week you are wishing that Saturday would hurry up and get here because you cannot wait to have waffle at IHOP or a Big Mac at McDonald’s as part of your cheat day. Is that a healthy way to think? I would have to say no. Not if you are really trying to change your lifestyle forever.
Although I don’t have to spell it out, you have probably guessed that I am not in love with cheat days while dieting. However, as always, I’m very interested in hearing your take on them.
Cheat days? Beneficial or harmful? Diane