Should You Include a Cheat Day in Your Diet?

Photo: Kazimirov Vladimir via Shutterstock

When it comes to losing weight and staying healthy, there are several kinds of diets for. There’s the Big Breakfast Diet, the Ketogenic Diet, the Paleo Diet, The Morning Banana Diet, and many more too numerous to list.

A cheat day in dieting is that one day a week when you can break the rules of your diet either for the whole day, or just a meal. In other words, you stick to the diet 6 days a week, and on the 7th day, you indulge a little.

Of course, the main problem with cheat days is that most people don’t indulge a little; they indulge a lot, and this messes with the diet plan and has a negative effect on their bodies.

For example, someone on a radical diet like Keto or Paleo that comes with hormonal changes and encourages the body to use up fat as the main source of fuel will find that the body needs time to adjust to eating the prescribed foods.  Incorporating a cheat day means the body metabolism may never fully adapt to the changes the diet aims to introduce.

However, the idea behind a cheat day is valid. Days and weeks of eating “healthy” can wear down the mind, and this is true even for disciplined people. The treats one indulges in on a cheat day simply serve to boost the mind. Total deprivation has been known to end in total abandonment of the diet. A cheat day helps to curb your cravings, give you a feeling of satisfaction, and even serve as an incentive or reward for good behaviour in the diet.

So it’s rather sad that the cheat day, which is supposed to help, can actually rubbish all the days of hard work you’ve put in. Taking time off healthy eating to eat unhealthy food just a little can actually feed your addiction to those foods. Worse still, a cheat day can turn into a cheat week, or a cheat month, setting you back in just the same way total deprivation can.

So, should you include a cheat day in your diet? It depends on you as an individual. Total deprivation works best for some personality types, while occasional indulgence is the only way others can successfully diet.

It helps to have people holding you accountable so you don’t over-indulge, and to factor in default cheat days like public holidays, birthday parties, weddings, etc. Sometimes those days are the only cheat days you should allow yourself because there’ll be loads of yummy goodies you may not be able to avoid eating if we’re being realistic.

It also helps some dieters to realise that hardly anyone sticks to a diet strictly, 365 days a year. So when you look at it that way, “cheating” is not really cheating cheat after all. It’s a normal part of dieting, and there’s no need to feel guilty. Nobody has it easy.

Do you have a cheat day every week? What do you tend to eat on those days? How do you prevent your cheat day from ruining your diet? Do leave a comment.

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Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com

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