Cheat Days Are Okay, But You Need to Set Some Ground Rules

eating with friends

Going on a diet can be tough. You have to sacrifice some of your favorite foods to get the best results. You will also need to make significant lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on sugar entirely and exercising for at least an hour every day.

To feel refreshed while dieting, some have a weekly cheat day when they can eat anything. There’s a long-running debate on whether cheat days are beneficial during a diet or not. You’d want to have a cheat day once in a while to give yourself a well-deserved break in the middle of your diet. But you might also end up sabotaging it because of “cheating.”

How Cheat Days Affect Your Body

Some people maintain that a cheat day can help a person get rid of their cravings in the middle of dieting. And as a result, they’ll be more motivated to stick to their diet, instead of just completely depriving themselves of things they want to eat.

Others claim that a cheat day might trigger binge eating and sabotage all the hard work that someone has done so far. This is likely to occur if you don’t have strong self-control. In some cases, a cheat day is considered a “reward” for one’s current progress in their weight loss journey. But using food as rewards can backfire and result in overeating.

Given the pros and cons of a cheat day, the best thing you can do is to set some ground rules so that the day will be satisfying but won’t derail your progress in losing weight.

Ground Rules in Cheat Days

Be Mindful

On the day of your indulgence, pay attention to your food choices. You can eat what you’ve been craving for in a long time. But try to choose a healthier option if it’s available. For instance, if you want to eat pizza, consider getting one with healthy toppings. If you want fruit juice, go for a fresh option instead of a store-bought juice. Mindful eating has many benefits, such as a decreased craving for sweets and lower fasting blood sugar levels.

eating french fries

Control Your Portions

Overeating is not good, even for indulgence. So you need to set a limit on your portions to prevent overeating. For example, instead of dedicating an entire day to eat whatever you want, try having only one or two cheat meals. Also, eat slowly. It will help you feel more full and satisfied, so you’ll avoid eating more than you should.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Even on your cheat day, make sure that you drink water regularly. People often mistake hunger with thirst. So when you suddenly feel hungry even if you’ve eaten not too long ago, drink some water instead of grabbing another snack. Drinking water can help you with your weight loss journey. It can control your appetite on your cheat day and stimulate metabolism.

Notice How You Feel

You will also need to monitor how you feel during and after your cheat day. You can do this either by keeping an Excel file on your laptop or mini computer or a digital diary on your phone. Consider writing down how you felt after eating your cheat meals. Did you feel guilty about it? Did you suddenly realize you want to enjoy eating anything you want instead of going on a diet? Or did you feel happier and more motivated?

Understanding how you felt because of your cheat day will help you determine if it’s right for you or not. Remember that negative emotions can lead to emotional eating, which can also be considered binge eating.

If you think having a cheat day will help you stick with your diet in the long run, then you should do it. But set some rules to keep yourself in check.

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