Do you have a Cheat Day?
I recently got asked if I have cheat day in regards to the way I eat? I replied, “Nope!” I don’t believe in cheat days and here’s why…”
Before I go into my explanation, I want to tell you that I used to have cheat days back in the day, and found it didn’t work for me for a lot of different reasons.
Cheat days easily turn into —> cheat weekends —> which easily turn into cheat weeks —> then into cheat months! And before you know it, you’ve fallen off the wagon, the wheels have come off the wagon, and the wagon has exploded.
Then you’re scrambling and desperate to pick up the pieces and start your diet over by restricting again to make up for all this binging and fun you’ve been having with food. And the cycle just keeps going on and on.
The Cheat Day Seems Great (in Theory)
Now, I understand why most people like the cheat day. It sounds good in theory and like it gives us some freedom and balance. I stick to my meal plan or healthy eating every day, EXCEPT for that one day, when I can eat ANYTHING I want.
But, how good do we feel after bingeing on a bunch of food, all in one day, just because we can?
I even found myself eating foods on a cheat day that I didn’t even want. But, because they were in front of me, or I knew I couldn’t eat that food the next day. I had better eat it NOW, while I have the chance…#scarcitymindset
I can’t tell you how many “last suppers” I’ve had on a Sunday night before I was going to start my diet over again on Monday.
I’ve found that the “cheat day” is just another form of the restrict/binge diet cycle that keeps us struggling. It has us tuning out from our normal hunger and fullness cues and what we’re really craving in life, which sometimes isn’t even food, BTW.
Let’s just take a look at the word “cheat” from a language perspective.
Google defines CHEAT as:
- “acting dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage”
- “avoiding something undesirable”
- “a person who acts dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage”
It’s a negative word, isn’t it? And when it comes to eating healthy, a cheat day represents “avoiding something that we find undesirable.”
When you use the word “cheat day”, it insinuates that you don’t like the way you normally eat.
It also puts food into categories of good and bad, and makes food a moral dilemma. I’ve written about this concept before, but I’ll remind you that: Food isn’t good or bad. FOOD is just FOOD! Drop the judgements already.
Think about this…
People who are happy and satisfied with their relationships don’t cheat on their partner/spouses, right?! I don’t see many married people going around saying, “Yeah, today is my “cheat day” in my marriage…I get to do ANYTHING I want with ANYONE I want!”
Teachers don’t go around telling students, “You get to have one cheat day a semester on a test. Feel free to look at your neighbor’s paper all you want on that day.”
NO, we don’t do this because cheating is deemed as wrong in our society.
And when a behavior is wrong or perceived as bad, how does it make you feel when you engage in that behavior?
It makes us feel bad, guilty, and ashamed. These types of feelings almost never lead to us behaving in positive and happy ways, but instead to self-sabatoging behavior.
Why would eating be any different when it comes to our language and actions? Can we really find true enjoyment and satisfaction with a food, if we feel it is bad, or I’m doing something bad to attain it?
Let’s Change This Mentality!
STEP 1: What if you just started by exchanging the word cheat for treat instead?
I don’t know about you, but the word treat makes me feel good, light up, and get excited…It feels like pleasure!
Google defines TREAT as:
- “an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure”
I feel like when I’m going to get a TREAT, that I think more about what I really want or what I’m really craving that would satisfy me in this moment.
Treats feel like a reward or something nice I would give to myself or someone else.
There’s more enjoyment around a food that is deemed as a treat. I’ve made a decision that I really want this food and enjoy every bite of it guilt and shame free.
STEP 2: Start allowing yourself a treat at any time or day of the week when you truly want it.
Why wait for a certain day to have a treat, or try to fit a bunch of treats all into the same day? Spread that shit out over the week.
Craving some chocolate on a Tuesday…have a little bit. Craving a hamburger on Thursday…have one. I think that you’ll feel better and more satisfied doing it that way than if you try to have chocolate, a hamburger, plus some pizza, all on a Saturday….just because it’s your day to eat what you want.
But, this is ALL just an experiment for you to try. If anything, just start calling your cheat day a treat day….and see if any of your choices are different.
I think what you’ll find is that you have more enjoyment and pleasure around the way you eat!
Language is powerful and has a lot to do with how we feel and behave. Choose it carefully.