Ah cheat days! Some people don’t like to call it a cheat day because the word cheat has a negative connotation. Whatever…..call it what you like: cheat day, break from your diet day, re-feed day – it’s all the same. You have one day where you stray from your normal clean eating and enjoy those foods you love that possibly aren’t really that great for you.
Some people feel that you shouldn’t have cheat days. Personally I think it’s good to have a cheat day or at least a cheat meal once a week.
Here are some reasons I think a cheat day/meal is important:
Helps with cravings.
I don’t know about you but when I’m told I can’t have something ever again, I want tend to want that thing more than ever and can’t stop thinking about it. Knowing that I can indulge in my favourite foods once a week helps me deal with cravings I might get.
When you do the same workout day after day, eventually your body adapts to the stress and no longer changes. You no longer see results – aka the dreaded plateau. A similar thing happens when you diet. When someone wants to lose weight they’ll restrict their calories a bit. This typically results in some weight loss but once your body adapts to the lower calorie allowance no more weight is lost. The only way to lose more is to restrict more and this will eventually lead to a diet that’s way too low in calories that can really damage your metabolism.
Cheat day to the rescue! By consuming more calories once a week you can actually prevent damage to your metabolism. When a person diets a hormone called leptin will start to dwindle. Leptin is basically responsible for maintaining energy balance and causing weight loss. By increasing your calorie intake once a week you actually increase your production of leptin by about 30% for up to 24 hours.
Just remember, one cheat day or one cheat meal per week is all you need. If you over feed yourself consistently you will gain weight.
Your social life!
A lot of social activities are centered around food. Sharing food is one of our basic human needs – it bonds us and has many psychological benefits. If you’ve ever tried sticking to your diet when you’re out with friends you’ll know how isolated that makes you feel. Having a cheat day or meal allows you to plan your social time so that you can indulge and enjoy both your food and your friends.
Makes eating clean a little easier.
Not everyone loves to eat clean and some people really struggle with it. If they had to commit to eating clean for the rest of their lives and never indulge in their favourite foods again a lot of people wouldn’t. Having a cheat day makes eating clean easier because you know that pretty soon you’ll get to give in to your cravings and enjoy some not so healthy stuff without feeling guilty. Personally, I think it’s a healthier approach to losing weight. If you’re following an eating plan that’s making you feel deprived there’s a really good chance that you’ll develop an unhealthy obsession with food. Keep that up and you could end up doing damage to your physical and mental health.
A healthier mind set.
Diets can be a slippery slope where some people might develop an all or nothing mind set. If they happen to give into a craving they feel like they’ve failed and decide they might as well keep going since they’ve already ruined their diet. This type of unhealthy thinking quite often leads to eating disorders and once you develop an eating disorder it never really goes away completely. If you have a planned cheat day or cheat meal you’ll feel more in control and not at all deprived.
Cheating Can Be A Good Thing!
So there you have it! Cheating can be a good thing, just make sure you do it properly. Use your cheat day/meal as an opportunity to enjoy food you don’t normally have. Do not use it as a binge fest. A healthy attitude towards food will do wonders for your soul.