Blog: Why Cheat Days Are Unproductive

Cheat days are all the rage these days. We look forward to them all week long. Reluctantly eating our salads and drinking our green juices just patiently waiting till we get to stuff our face with In-n-Out and milk shakes. Only to feel like complete crap the next day and really only have just revived our cravings that we worked so hard the week before to kill.

Like, have you ever drunken a soda after not having one in a long time and suddenly every day after that all you can think about is more soda? Yeah, you’re basically going through withdrawals. Sugar is an addictive substance, but most of the time we’re more addicted to the positive emotion or sensation we get when we eat sugar. Trailing back all the way to when were kids. Getting candy as a reward for good grades or good behavior. Eating lucky charms for breakfast everyday or drinking apple juice like it’s water. We were really only destined for failure.

The problem with cheat days though, is when you separate foods as “good” and “bad”, you begin to associate eating with guilt. So instead of feeling satisfied when we eat a cheat meal, we just end up feeling awful about ourselves. And what’s worse, is we all know the saying “you always want what you can’t have” – so the more we tell ourselves something is off limits, the more we will obsess over it, which then leads to over eating. Then we’re left trying to get back on track the next couple days… Likely overeating healthy foods to compensate for the way our bodies feel, only to get back on track for 3 days and then start it all back over when the weekend hits. Or when you’ve put yourself on a restrictive diet you don’t enjoy, your cheat day becomes less of a cheat day and more of a day to eat whatever you can before the day goes away and you’re left feeling sad and likely to quit your diet altogether. It’s honestly a terribly vicious cycle we put our bodies and minds through. Plus, it’s been scientifically proven that when we restrict our bodies all week then all of a sudden hit it with sugars it can have a huge impact on blood sugar levels. Which is a whole other problem in itself.

The trick is to do whatever makes you feel good. Don’t designate days to eating unhealthy foods because then you end up eating 3 unhealthy 2000 calorie per meal meals and that’s really hard to come back from. Instead, if you feel okay about eating that cake at your friends wedding and know you won’t feel bad about yourself, go for it! But if you’re going to spend the next couple days obsessing over how you “failed”, then please, don’t reach for the cake. You need to do what’s best for your body AND your mind. Sure, that cake isn’t going to ruin everything you’ve worked so hard for, but if you let it get to your head, you most certainly will “think” your way into destruction. Only leading you to believe you’re a failure and it doesn’t matter if you eat more cake because you’ve already eaten the one piece already.

Instead of “cheat days” or “cheat meals”, think of it as “balance“. It’s important to discover a healthy balance between healthy and unhealthy foods. Typically a 90-10 balance is what has worked best for me. I really enjoy doughnuts and french fries as much as the next person, but I make sure to eat healthy most of the time and get my workout in everyday so that when I do go out I don’t feel bad about myself for ordering a round of onion rings…. or two.

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