Do cheat days help?
When my clients ask this question, I instantly break out in a sweat! Many nutritionists and registered dieticians would have the same reaction because the term “cheat Day” brings to mind binging habits and that old “good” foods vs “bad” foods mentality.
Let’s start by getting this point across: it’s best not to associate any food as forbidden, only to indulge on it when you’re “cheating” on your otherwise healthy nutrition plan.
Having this attitude is going to lead you to feel like you’ve failed on your fitness goals when you enjoy calorie-dense foods such as cheesecakes, burgers, or pizza. Those foods are pretty delicious, and if you greatly restrict when you can and can’t consume them, you’re much more likely to overeat when you do. These kind of mindset pitfalls can very quickly develop into disordered eating (remember, binging is an eating disorder) and can further develop unhealthy relationships with food.
Instead of obsessing over what your next cheat day will include, try to establish a nourishing meal plan that doesn’t make you feel limited. If you eat a variety of whole foods, with some not-so-healthy ones mixed in, you’ll feel more satisfied throughout the day and able to eat any kinds of foods you like, with moderation in mind.
Too many fad diets cut out entire food groups, leading the participant to fall off the wagon and eat the foods they missed. Often, any weight lost during that difficult diet phase is quickly regained.
Now, full transparency here, I personally choose not to eat things like pizza on a regular basis—but that’s my preference. I enjoy grazing throughout the day, eating smaller meals to keep cravings at bay and keep my energy levels stable.
When I do have dreams of chocolate cheesecake or a fully-loaded burger, I consider them treat meals—not cheat meals.
Why? Because I’m not cheating on anything—I’m enjoying my life.
In these situations, I refuse to worry about how many calories are consumed or starve myself the rest of the day to make up for it.
When it comes to losing weight, or maintaining a healthy body, what you eat 90% of the time is going to determine results. Remember, there are no good or bad foods, but nourishing your body with nourishing, whole foods will always reign supreme!
Coach Julie Germaine is a NFLA-certified fitness expert and prenatal trainer, and a NASM-certified nutrition specialist. She is also a fit mom and a 2x world-class fitness champion who has been featured in and contributed to numerous fitness, fashion, and lifestyle magazines and other media. She has loved helping men and women lose belly fat and maintain inspiring body transformations as a virtual coach since 2005.