To cheat… or not to cheat. That is the question.

Cheat days in a healthy living journey is a bit of a controversial topic. Yes, no, maybe… who knows? I think it depends on the person as well as how they use the “cheat” day. I’ve put together some pros and cons of using a cheat day in your plan here…

PROS:

It changes things up. 

Instead of things getting stale in your nutrition plan, or eating the same things all the time, you are able to change things up from time to time. This can be good for your body as well, as there will be less of a chance of hitting a plateau if you’re not eating the same amount of calories every, single, day!

It allows for occasional indulgences.

With a cheat day scheduled occasionally where you are allowing yourself controlled indulgences, can be beneficial by helping you stay on track the rest of the time. We all need to enjoy a treat once in a while and this allows us to do so.

It gives you something to look forward to.

On those especially hard days, when it’s super difficult to stay on track, cheat days give you something to look forward to where you can eat things you want so badly! Then in the moment, you can tell yourself, “I can’t have this right now, but I can have it another day.”

It eliminates the rigidity of “dieting:”

While I don’t view healthy eating as dieting, necessarily, I’m using this term here as a reference. If you use a cheat day, then it can break up the rigidity and monotony of eating only healthier foods nearly all of the time.

CONS:

It can possibly lead to self-sabotage.

Sometimes allowing ourselves enough wiggle room to have a cheat day can cause us to be in a mental place where we think it’s okay to continue doing it. There’s also the chance that it will spill over into the next day, which can often lead to multiple days in a row of being off track.

You can end up eating way too much.

Even in just one day, you can end up eating way too much. Allowing yourself to eat what you want for a whole day can give you the attitude that you can eat anything and everything you want, without limits.

One day of “cheating” may lead to many of overeating.

This goes hand-in-hand with the self-sabotage point above. Giving yourself the freedom to eat more or simply other kinds of foods that you don’t normally have, even for one day, can lead to it lasting into tomorrow and many days to come.

It messes with healthy eating streaks.

If you’ve been on track or eating according to your plan for many days in a row, a cheat day can interrupt that streak. You will need to start over with that particular streak.

MY PERSONAL VIEW:

I think that cheat meals are better than a whole cheat day. For example, I have used a cheat dinner once a week in the past, and that worked well for me. A cheat meal limits the indulgences to one meal and then results in less calories being consumed over your normal plan. Plus it narrows your focus and excitement to one meal, sort of like a really amazing event, that you are anticipation for. Then when that meal is done, it’s done, and you get back on track.

Another option, and one I more recently put into practice, is to allow myself to indulge one or two days a week. In this instance, I allow myself to go over my calorie range by 300-500 calories total throughout that day. I plan ahead for the day and indulge carefully. This might work best to keep more control over our indulgences.

In the end, I believe that this is a personal choice that only you can make. No matter what you decide, remember to always do your best!

What is your view on cheat meals or days? Do you use them in your own healthy living journey and how does that work out for you?

 

~Bonnie~

7 comments on “To Cheat… or Not to Cheat”

  1. You’re right, it is controversial!

    My take on it is that I think any diet/healthy eating plan must have room for the occasional indulgence built into the plan. I think terming it a “cheat” means that psychologically you feel like you are off your plan (I had don’t like the word diet although in its strict meaning it has no problem). Once you feel you are doing the “wrong” thing, that you are eating “bad” food then you beat yourself up about it and feel like you are failing. This rarely motivates a person.

    If you are sticking with your diet plan and have the indulgences within that plan then you haven’t done anything wrong, and you just carry on eating, as before without all the destructive self hate.

  2. I just told my sister yesterday that If I typically have a bad food day then I skip walking at the gym but I decided that I wouldn’t let that discourage me, that I would go walking regardless. I just try and take it one day at a time. evenings are worse for me. I get such sugar cravings.

    • It’s like a big mental battle happens in our brains when we miss something or slip up, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing like that. We can slip up, or plan indulgences, and still exercise and do the rest of the things we need to do to live healthier.

  3. I agree with all of your cons on cheat days. I’ve been trying to cut back on my portions when having a meal, and only allowing myself a special treat once or twice a week. However, when I’m having an off day or week, the cheat days take control of my motivation and plans to eat better.

  4. I am 2/3 of the way through a Daniel Fast with 0% cheat days. I look forward to returning to pizza, but the discipline of no cheating has been so good for me. It requires focus and self-control. You make good points on both sides of the argument here.

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