Are Cheat Days Good For Dieting?
There is a question that many dieters want to know: Are cheat days good for dieting? If you are embarking on a new way of eating, then it is important to be consistent with your new habits in order to make them a lifestyle. That means that you make it a habit to either include cheat days or not include them. So let’s determine whether or not cheat days are good for your diet.
Cheat Days With Limitations
If you were to sign up to Weight Watchers today, you would see that you can easily save up some ‘points’ and have a ‘cheat day’ with those extra points once a week. However, this is not a free-for-all cheat day. You need to stay within your weekly point’s allowance.
As with most popular diets, a cheat day simply refers to eating more calories at one or two meals in a day. It does not mean to break out the chips and chocolate and indulge all day long. That kind of eating can undue all the hard work you put into your diet the week before. Therefore, it is important to view your cheat day as a slight indulgence, not a binge.
“Organize it around a meal, or just say that you’ll be more relaxed about your lunch and dinner. And just like a real vacation, do a little planning. Knowing that you’ll order your favorite pasta and maybe cheesecake on Friday night will make it way easier to resist those stale cookies on Wednesday.” – Women’s Health
Back To Bad Habits
The biggest problem with a cheat day is that you can easily make excuses and fall back into bad habits. For instance, having one day where you indulge in your favorite dessert for lunch and supper may cause you to lose motivation to stick to your diet and, instead, experience the pleasure of eating that dessert every day.
Moreover, the reality is that most people end up choosing very unhealthy foods for their cheat days. The problem is that unhealthy foods can cause your body to crave more unhealthy foods and, regardless of your willpower, cause you to ‘give in’ and eat another piece cake or pastry.
“A doughnut, for example, sends blood sugar soaring, giving you a boost of energy. Then, after about 10 minutes, your energy levels drop drastically, sending you to the kitchen or vending machine for something that will spike your energy again…The result is weight gain and eating habits that negatively impact your health.” – Canadian Living
Once you give in enough times, you may decide that you are not capable of having just one cheat day. Usually this causes dieters to take the easy route and give up on their diet altogether. Therefore, if you are someone who can’t just indulge a little, a cheat day may not be a healthy part of your diet.
Changing Your Mindset
When you establish that Saturday will be a cheat day, you are telling yourself that your diet is hard and not pleasurable, whereas your cheat day is the only time you get to feel pleasure. When you feel like that about your diet, it can be hard to make a lifestyle change. Even if you stick to your diet and the weekly cheat day, you will go back to your more pleasurable eating habits once the ‘not pleasurable diet’ is over.
If you want to turn healthy eating into a lifestyle, it is important to change your viewpoint on healthy eating. Make sure that you find recipes that are fun and delicious, so that a cheat day is not really necessary because you are already experiencing a ton of pleasure from your healthy diet.
In the end, are cheat days good for dieting? Yes and no. They are good to give you a break from a strict and undesirable diet; however, they are not always good for adopting new habits and making a lifestyle change.