If you aren’t familiar with the concept, I’ll enlighten you.
A cheat meal/day is taking a break from your ‘dieting’ plan either for one meal or an entire day. These usually happen on a weekly basis (sometimes longer) with the idea being you can stay focused on your days ‘on’ because you know you have a day ‘off’.
It’s a perfect example of glamorized restriction in a socially acceptable and admired package.
Before I lose you, I’m not stepping on a soap box.
I’m going to break down how this mentality will impact your progress.
Think about your favourite food. For me it’s chocolate chip cookies. Or pizza. Hopefully both. With ice cream. (I’m a simple gal).
Now; I’m going to show you <insert your favourite food here> and say to you, you can’t have this today, but you can have it on Saturday. Because then you’re allowed it. I’m gonna do that everyday from Sunday-Friday.
When Saturday comes along what do you think is going to happen?
Am I going to eat one slice of pizza? Just one cookie from the packet?
I’m gonna eat the entire pizza. With extra cheese. ALL the cookies, topped with a tub of ice cream. And probably a kinder bueno. Plus a few glasses of wine to wash it down because it’s CHEAT DAY. So I can. I’m allowed.
If we think about that in the form of numbers then-
Hypothetically I’ve essentially gone from consuming maybe 1600kcal a day Sunday-Friday, feeling restricted, dieting, my days ‘on’.
To consuming over 3000kcal* in just one meal. And that’s without the food I’d have eaten for the rest of that day.
Instead of saving up and splurging all at once, why not just spread a little more enjoyment throughout your week?
Have a cookie on a few days, so you don’t feel restricted.
Drink a glass of wine with your pals on Friday night.
Share a pizza with your other half on a lazy Sunday.
The sum of this would be 833kcal.
833kcal of enjoyment and sociability spread throughout the week or 3000kcal of restriction and splurging.
You are far more likely to be able to moderate your intake if you don’t feel restricted.
If you need a DAY OFF from your diet, that’s a pretty major sign that it’s not working for you.
If you needed a day off a week from your relationship, would you call it a cheat day?
no. you would call it infidelity.
And it would be a sign you’re in the wrong relationship.
It might sounds like a stretch to compare your romantic relationship to your diet, but in actuality it’s worse, because this is a relationship with yourself.
If you really want to see progress in your health, your fitness regime, your weight loss journey, your relationship with food (and if you’re still reading I’m gonna assume you do), then stop being a d**k to yourself.
Stop denying yourself.
It isn’t helping.
Create a healthy and balanced diet everyday that works for you. Which includes both nutritious and less nutritious foods. Ideally more of the former. Be active everyday, as much as possible, with activities you enjoy and want to do. Set goals. Achieve them. Set more. Work hard, play hard. Create a life you love living everyday.
But most importantly. And I really mean this.
Never, ever, cheat on yourself.
*calories based on: 1 pizza (800kcal), extra cheese (450kcal), 5 medium chocolate chip cookies (400kcal), 1/2 tub of cookie dough ice cream (625kcal), 1 kinder bueno (244kcal), 2 glasses red wine (428kcal).