Why You Shouldn’t Use ‘Cheat Days’

The term ‘cheat day’ is commonly thrown around in gyms, training centers, or in communities of dieters. The premise is understandable — after six days of hard work and diligence, many people feel that they deserve a day of unlimited eating of their favorite foods. So, what’s the harm? Let’s take a look. 

Cheat Days Imply Guilt

The word ‘cheating’ is never about something good. From cheating on tests to cheating on a spouse, the term implies something bad, shameful, or guilty. So, why would we want to impart those bad feelings into what we eat? 

Rather, putting foods on a neutral and even playing field can remove guilt from the equation. Instead of “bad” or “good” foods, many people find success with removing labels from food or simply thinking of them as “more nutritious” and “less nutritious.” 

Cheat Days Can Lead to Binging

If you’ve restricted food all week long, you will likely overeat on your cheat day. This can cause negative feelings — both physically, like bloat or stomach pain, and emotionally, if you feel shameful for how much you consume. 

What to Do Instead

Instead of having one day of uninhibited eating, try sprinkling in smaller “feel-good” foods throughout the week, like a mini ice cream cone for dessert or a small hot chocolate on a relaxing morning. Without restricting every day, you’re more likely to stick to a healthy eating plan in the long run and avoid binging. 

Overall, cheat days might work for some people. However, many others may find that employing regular cheat days can lead to overeating, binging, and negative feelings about both your body and your food intake.

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