I want to preface this article by saying that there are MANY differing viewpoints and opinions on this matter, and the reason for this could be attributed to the fact that different things work for different people. That being said, a single cheat day can play a role in sabotaging your diet. Now before you start to silently disagree or close this tab, hear me out. I am absolutely not arguing that people should stick to clean eating every day for the rest of their lives, because it isn’t sustainable to completely abstain. When done right, incorporating carbohydrates, fats and sugar into your diet can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The key to this, like everything in life, is moderation. Instead, adding cheat meals into your diet as opposed an entire day can make all the difference.
1. “Cheating” on our diet makes every treat feel like the last
You aren’t on death row! This isn’t your last meal ever. Cake will be there for you tomorrow, and in a month, and even, wait for it, in a year! Just because you skip the muffins your coworker brought in on Wednesday morning doesn’t mean you’ll never eat or see a muffin again. (Scratch that…always take free food.) You get the picture though. When you start fixating on one thing and thinking about it over and over again, you aren’t being healthy in your approach to the diet.
2. The word “cheat” may make you want it more
Think about it this way: if your parents forbid you from seeing the “bad boy” in high school did that make you want to date him less? The cheat day temptation seems a bit like Romeo and Juliet syndrome. Telling yourself not to do something only makes you think about the fact that you can’t, which can consume your thoughts and lead to a binge. Don’t blacklist any food item purely because you think it is fattening. Again, think moderation and the proper foods that fuel your body. This is a mental game.
3. “Cheating” on your diet may derail you or encourage binges
Straying from your diet can make it impossible to get back to where you started. It is all about knowing yourself and whether or not you can bounce back. If you keep in mind that you can have a couple of cheat items throughout the week (say your favorite cheesecake on Friday night) it may give you the ambition you need to stick to your diet that week. However, if you have cheesecake on Friday night, crave a burger Saturday morning, chicken alfredo that night, etc, you should probably nip it in the bud and completely abstain. Just keep in mind that sometimes people are unable to abstain permanently and that is where moderation comes into play. However, there are diets like South Beach that have different phases where you are able to incorporate more into your diet once you have lost the initial weight.
4. It is important to focus on self-care
Looking at days of the week as a “cheat day” might spark a feeling of regret and lead to low self-esteem after indulging in them. When you are constantly in a battle with yourself you will eventually give up because you can’t take the self-scrutiny. People are often plagued by guilt after eating a food that is labeled “bad.” When you include food that you love into your diet in moderation you are less likely to feel guilty. Also, low self-esteem and sadness sometimes trigger people and make them binge.
5. Point blank, junk food is bad for you
If you are making an attempt at a healthier lifestyle, indulging in junk food is like taking two steps forward and one step back. In addition, trans fats, seed oils and gluten stay in your system for awhile after you have eaten them, so if your goal is to cleanse your body from those ingredients then it is best to avoid them all together.