Cheat Days: Fantastic or A Fail?

Cheat days for weight loss

The term “cheat day” in weight loss was not familiar to me when I was losing 150 pounds. In fact, it was well after I reached my final weight that I even heard the term.

Now I see the term very frequently. I see it on blogs, in weight loss articles on the Internet, and even in some books. Whenever I see that term, it concerns me.

Why? Here are eight concerns I have with cheat days:

1. Cheat days imply that there is something to cheat on.

A permanent lifestyle change allows for you to eat foods you enjoy and fit into your weight loss plan without feeling like you are cheating.

2. Cheat days imply that weight loss is a negative experience and one we need to be released from.

Weight loss is hard. I totally understand that, but on the whole, it can be a positive experience because you are changing your life for the good.

3. Cheat days take away from developing new habits.

If you decide to have a cheat day when losing weight will you make that a habit after you get to your goal weight? I’m not saying you can’t do that because it is your decision, but I am asking if that is your long-term intention?

4. Cheat days make you feel as though some foods are off-limits.

I definitely have some foods I avoid completely; however, if you utilize a cheat day to eat all those “off-limit” foods on your list are you really preparing yourself to handle all the tempting foods in your life?

5. Cheat days can set you up for failure if high sugar/high fat foods are your weakness.

This one is totally self explanatory. :)

6. Cheat days can seem like a reward for being “good” on your diet.

I’m all about rewards but not food rewards. If your cheat day is to reward yourself for doing well during the week, think about whether this is a good long-term strategy.

7. Cheat days are an unnecessary distraction.

I’ve had friends who counted down the days until their “cheat day!” I teased them that they were so busy planning their cheat day that they were missing out on the good parts of their diet experience.

8. Cheat days can undo good work from the prior week.

Cheat days without a calorie limit really can cause your weight loss to be slower than it needs to be. If you go wild and eat 3,500 calories in a single day, that can slow down your weight loss for the week.

You can probably tell that I have real concerns about cheat days because I’ve seen lots of people struggle with them. I’ve known people who look forward to cheat days and sometimes end up adding in an extra cheat day during the week and over time the cheat days become more numerous until they have fallen off the wagon completely.

What I really am concerned about is that the concept of a cheat day may cause some people to avoid embracing a new, permanent lifestyle and instead cling to the old way of living.

I guess my feeling is – if you want to eat it – make that decision for yourself and don’t call it a cheat.

How do you feel? Cheat days beneficial or a big no-no? Diane

Image courtesy of Marin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

More From Diane

Setting Weight Loss Goals?

Should You Set a Specific Goal Weight?

Do you set a goal weight when you set off on a weight loss journey? I’ll share with you how I decided what weight I’d like to be, and I’d be really interested in hearing what your thoughts or ideas are on the subject. When I started on my 512th attempt to lose weight I   Continue Reading…

Recognizing People After Large Weight Loss

Celebrate Those Positive Embarrassing Moments

I’ve shared a lot of bad embarrassing moments with you over the five+ years I’ve been blogging, and believe me, I have plenty more stories where they came from. But, today, I thought I’d share an embarrassing moment that turned out to be a good one. Well, at least for me. My morbidly obese years were spent   Continue Reading…

woman picky shopper

The Benefits of Being Picky

I am a picky eater. I always have been, especially when it came to fruits and vegetables. I picked at them while guzzling diet soda and chewing a triple cheeseburger. I picked at salads while waiting for my Monte Cristo sandwich to come from Bennigan’s kitchen. I rarely ate apples but would happily gobble down   Continue Reading…

Adult vs Juvenile Food: How It Made Me Gain 150 Pounds

Making Grown Up Food Choices: Bye Bye Kid Food

Have you ever thought about food in terms of kid food versus grown up food? When I was a young teenager, I loved kid foods. I regularly visited the convenience store and bought packages of Oreos, candy, dried out looking honey buns, sodas, and chocolate covered nuts. I was a steady customer at the Burger King near my high   Continue Reading…

Recent Recipes

Egg Basket

5 Healthy Add-Ins to Spice Up Eggs

Have you jumped on the “Eggs Are Great” bandwagon yet? I see a lot of people using scrambled or fried eggs as a breakfast, lunch, or even dinner option. I have always liked eggs and was never fully convinced that eggs were terrible for you. And like so many things, what is bad for you   Continue Reading…

Baked Apple SlicesT

Baked Apple Slices: Healthy and Simple

If your family loves apple pie but you hate to make them or are trying to save a few calories, baked apple slices are a terrific alternative. My boys (and girls) love to make baked apple slices. It’s so simple they can do it themselves with a minimum of supervision. Of course they do not   Continue Reading…

Cumin Chicken with Black Beans

Cumin Chicken with Black Beans and Corn

We love Mexican food but I do not like going to Mexican restaurants. I never know exactly what is in the food and it is so expensive when compared to the cost of making the same thing at home. The other night I had some boneless skinless chicken I needed to use up but did   Continue Reading…

Homemade Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers

Whole Wheat Homemade Ritz Crackers

Do you have an affection for Ritz crackers but know in your heart they are not good for you? The ingredient list reads like a chemical mixture rather than a food you should eat. I have always liked the crackers but rarely buy them because I know that they have no nutritional value, are easy   Continue Reading…