Cheat Days Don’t Work!
I would like to weigh in on the so-called cheat days that are touted by some so-called dieting experts. This concept takes a variety of forms, but in essence, it entails one day out of the week when the person who wants to lose weight can throw caution to the wind and eat whenever and whatever she or he desires. A current diet actually encourages the dieter to tank up on 4000 calories one day of the week to support the other days of calorie deprivation. What is wrong with this? Everything!
- For people who want to lose weight and get healthier, one day of pigging out is like two steps forward, one back. Even if it is only one day per week, all that consumption of food tells the body to store the excess calories as fat. The heavy volume of calories can end up in the place that is the most dangerous to our bodies the mid-section. Our bodies are quite intelligent. Packing on the calories translates to packing on the pounds.
- Cheating one day on a get-healthy/lose-weight gives the body the wrong message. Isn’t that like one day per week of cheating on your spouse? Or one day per week of cheating in school? Doesn’t that give the body an excuse to abuse all of the good practices it is trying to acquire? It seems counter-productive and self-abusive, rather than self-honoring.
- Good eating is a habit. It is strengthened by continual practice. Every meal counts. Every snack counts. To jump completely off the wagon implies a restart, rather than a deepening of the discipline that is the cornerstone of healthy living.
- You should be concerned of the health impact of even just one day of eating recklessly. Even if you have eaten responsibly for six days, you can still throw your blood sugar out of whack and aggravate inflammation in your body with a day of massive junk eating. Those with whom I have spoken about their cheat days say that they practically live for Sunday when they can eat spaghetti, cookies, and greasy spare ribs in bulk.
- My last concern is about the psychology of cheat days. One of the worst things you can do to get your body leaner and healthier is to judge yourself as having been good or bad. This is because when you deem yourself as having been bad, you are at risk to punishing yourself accordingly. This cheat day can throw the well-intended dieter into some pretty harsh judgments which never support long-term self-honoring weight management and healthy living.
The keywords for healthy eating and weight loss are balance, moderation, and sustainability. Love your body with nutritious food that promotes health naturally. Your body will love you back, which is infinitely more satisfying than mistreating this one and only body you get in this life.
With love and encouragement,
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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