Weight loss is a personal journey for any one who is ready to undertake lifestyles changes. When you’re in the weight loss game, consistency is key, but there also may be things you need to keep your mind in the game. Some may find it difficult to reach weight loss goals without craving the foods they love. For this, some people institute Cheat Days.
What are Cheat Days?
Cheat days are a scheduled indulgence from your normal healthy eating plan. How you choose indulgence is up to you. The most popular type is one day a week or one day a month, you don’t follow the specific healthy eating plan that generally follow 80% of the time.
In my opinion, for weight loss, you really shouldn’t have any cheat days until you get closer to your personal goal. For sanity though, cheat days may be needed. Incorporating “unscripted” meals could also help you plan how your body may handle the foods when you’ve hit your weight loss goal & enter the “maintenance” portion of life (trying to just maintain the weight you’ve lost).
Finding your best “cheat”
Trial and error are the best way to figure out how you handle “cheat foods”; You’ll need to decide what approach works best for you. If you find that a cheat DAY makes you crave more unhealthy foods, then you may want to try ONE cheat MEAL, instead of a whole day. If you track your macro-nutrients though, some people may have trouble fitting the one off-track meal into their macros. Creativity may be needed to make your macros work.
“Cheats” can also just be a way to ease the mental hurdles that making a lifestyle change can bring. If you track your food everyday in a tracking app/journal/website, taking a rest from that for a day while doing more intuitive eating could be considered your once a week “cheat”! If you follow a low-carb lifestyle for 6 days out of a week, on the 7th day you could increase your carb intake for that one day; This type of “cheat” is known as a refeed day or carb cycling. Refeed days are days when you eat a higher amount of carbohydrates to repair the deficient amount of carbs you’ve had the majority of your week. I find that Refeed days are great on the day of or the day before your highest cardio/lifting/exercise day.
Is this the best idea for me?
Some people don’t like the idea of completely cutting things out of their eating plan. They believe it could encourage less resistance when that food is eaten again, so all things should be okay to consume, within moderation. Some believe that the “cheat meals” process could subconsciously encourage negative ideas & make you feel guilty about eating certain foods. This mindset, for some, could enforce unhealthy behaviors by “rewarding yourself” with food.
Out of all of these situations, discipline is the most important aspect. If done incorrectly, cheat days could set you back to the starting point if done too often. If you are inclined to food binges, then a whole day of eating off plan could also mentally sabotage you. If you’re an emotional eater, these unplanned food could end up being used as a coping mechanism for stress or depression. It’s really all about learning what works best for you! Documenting your journey is the most helpful thing you can do for yourself.
My current cheat? It changes for me every now and again as I always like to keep my body guessing. For the last 3 months, I’ve done a combination: A refeed day once a week & intuitive eating on the weekends.
– Estee Denise “Nisey” Ratliff
I’ve lost over 100 pounds \o/. See my story here. I am NOT a nutritionist or a doctor. This blog is NOT meant to be a substitute for any professional guidance or counseling. The information I provide merely reflects my own personal experiences and is NOT meant to take the place of medical or nutrition advice from professionals. But it’s helpful and pretty…so enjoy!