Cheat days are scheduled breaks you take from dieting or losing weight.
It’s based on the idea that you can have a day (usually once a week) where you are “allowed” to eat whatever you want as long as you stick to your diet the remaining six days out of the week.
The problem with this idea is that it’s not actually true.
You can’t technically have one day out of the week where you eat a whole pizza, pint of ice cream, bottle of wine, bag of chips, and three different chocolate bars.
Calories still count on cheat days meaning the amount of food you eat on this dieting day off still impacts your ability to lose weight throughout the week. Even if you are PERFECT with sticking to your calorie & exercise goal during the week.
Another big problem with cheat days touches on last week’s post; it encourages the all-or-nothing mentality and viewing foods as good or bad.
Viewing foods as good or bad means you’re back to creating rules which promote a rigid way of eating with the focus being on restriction & deprivation.
Restriction makes foods sound more desirable than they really are making you lose control around portion sizes, resulting in binge eating behaviors.
This is what keeps you stuck in that vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Now I will say that having cheat days are different than having “fun” days.
Fun days are days usually on the weekend where you tend to gravitate to eating more calorie-dense fun foods because there’s more of an opportunity to do so like at parties, with friends & family, and while eating out.
You aren’t bingeing on these fun days. You are still mindful of portion sizes but may eat fewer vegetables or less protein.
And at the same time, you aren’t restricting on other days during the week. You’re still eating enough carbs during the day and enjoying sweets in the right portion sizes.
When you’re in the active process of losing weight, your calories will count no matter which day out of the week it is.
But you CAN eat enough food during the week, be satisfied with the variety, and honor your cravings with a flexible eating approach to weight loss.
Having a flexible mindset and shifting away from the all-or-nothing mentality can help you feel like you don’t need a cheat day while losing weight because you’re satisfied & nourished, no matter if it’s a Tuesday or a Saturday.