One of the few fun bits of going on a restrictive diet is that it usually allows you one day to “cheat” on your diet each week and enjoy all the foods that you’ve otherwise been depriving yourself of.
But if you’re still struggling to lose weight despite sticking to the diet/cheat schedule, there are reasons behind that, and it’s not because you’re not doing it right.
One reason is that cheat days can spiral into cheat weekends and beyond.
And now I’ll share three more reasons to give you the skinny on why cheat days haven’t been working for you.
Plus I’ll give you an alternative action to take. Let’s go…
Reason #1: It feeds you the illusion that your actions can be temporary
Regular cheat days built into your diet can keep you trapped in the mindset that someday all this will be “over.” It feeds you the false idea that all the healthy eating you need to do to lose weight and keep it off is only short-term.
But it isn’t.
The same things you need to do to lose weight are the same things you need to continue doing to keep it off. So if you’re not okay with the whole diet/cheat cycle, you’ll want to give cheat days a pass if only for this reason alone.
Reason #2: It makes you feel guilty about enjoying the food you love
There’s something about the word “cheat” that can make you feel like you’re not keeping your healthy commitments to yourself. It implies that you’re committing a “crime” against your diet just because you’re enjoying food.
This adds unnecessary feelings of guilt around having foods you enjoy. And these guilty feelings make it so much harder for you to turn around and make a healthy choice at the next meal. And making healthy choices from one meal to the next is the foundation of eating for both weight loss and health.
I’m going to be teaching a FREE online workshop on February 9th where you’ll discover how to indulge without having to resort to a cheat day, but in the meantime let’s move on to reason #3.
Reason #3: It’s easy to undo all the healthy eating you’ve been doing in one day, let me show you how…
Let’s do some quick calorie math (it used to be my specialty in the old days):
Meat pie (at least 500 calories) and scotch egg (at least another 250) for breakfast with a cup of creamy milo (let’s be generous and say that’s only 200 calories).
That’s 950 calories for breakfast alone.
Then lunch…. say you decide to have your favorite treat of fried plantains (let’s say you have the equivalent of one plantain – at least 300 calories fried) with a large plate of ofada and designer stew (chai… I don’t even know what that number will be, let’s say 500 calories minimum).
That’s another 800 calories at lunch. Minimum.
Then you have a bag of plantain chips for an afternoon snack, with a bottle of fanta.
That’s at least another 500 (350 for a bag of chips and 150 for fanta).
And then dinner. Based on the trend of how this day has gone, it won’t be a stretch to say dinner could add another 750 calories to bring you to 3000 calories for one day!
Bear in mind that this puts you only 500 calories away from gaining 1 lb based on calorie math.
But the bad part isn’t just in the number of calories you eat, it’s what your body does with them.
Here’s how you really start to undo all your hard work just by overindulging on this one day:
The processed sugar in your meals spike your blood sugar, which triggers your body to call on insulin.
Insulin’s job is to get the excess sugar out of your blood stream and store it as fat.
And the worst part is that in the moment, your body doesn’t remember that you restricted your calories yesterday. All it cares about is that right now, there’s too much sugar floating around and it needs to be stored.
And because of the highs and lows of your blood sugar, you’re going to have a lot of energy crashes during the day and that might result in you reaching for more food to even things out.
Then, if you eat a lot of sugar on your cheat day, you’re creating a demand for more sugar. Your body likes sugar because it’s a quick shot of energy that it doesn’t have to work hard to digest. So you’re creating cravings for even more sugar.
So what’s the alternative?
Well that’ll be another post by itself. But simply put , the alternative is to sprinkle your non-negotiable foods here and there instead of trying to jam it all into one day.
Sprinkling these non-negotiable foods into your weekly eating pattern will help you keep deprivation at bay to make it easy to stick to the actions that’ll help you lose weight.
So one ball of Ferrero Rocher, a small portion of chin chin (about a closed fistful) and a bottle of Fanta spread out over the week is much better than having all the things in the one day.
And when I say non-negotiable foods, I’m referring to the indulgences that you actually enjoy eating and not what you choose to have because it’s there or because it’s a cheat day.
It’s time to take action…
Now that you’ve learned three more reasons why you should give cheat days a pass, it’s time to take action. I have two suggestions:
#1: Start by looking through the list of foods that you normally indulge in and select your non-negotiable foods.
#2: Make a commitment to choose from these non-negotiable foods in small quantities when cravings hit.
I know that #2 is going to be hard if you’ve spent years relying on willpower. But it’s a hard thing worth doing because using willpower isn’t a great long-term strategy since it tends to go out the window when life gets hectic.
So I have a treat (pun intended) to help with #2. If you want to learn how to make indulging without guilt a little easier, you’ll want to sign up for a FREE Workshop that I’m running on Thursday, February 9th.
#1 The simple path to making healthy eating easier
#2 The food types to eat lose weight using healthy eating instead of dieting
#3 How to indulge in your favorite unhealthy foods without guilt
And I’ll be giving away some pretty cool bonuses to workshop registrants, so you’ll definitely want to sign up for it.
I can’t wait to see you there. P.S. If you’re not going to be on there live because of the time difference, sign up anyway. I’ll be sending you the Replay after the Workshop so that you can discover the tools to make healthy eating super easy.
Photo Credit: Jason Stitt | Dreamstime.com