Even One "Cheat" Day Could Hurt Your Weight Loss Efforts

71SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/21/2009 5:46 AM   :  661 comments

See More: news, healthy eating,
When you're trying to change your eating habits and become healthier, it's important not to totally deny yourself the foods you love. You probably can't continue eating pizza 5 nights a week, but you can still enjoy a slice now and then. Just because you have a healthy diet doesn't mean that you never indulge in a bowl of ice cream or slice of pie. I feel like I have a pretty good diet, but I also leave room for the occasional piece of chocolate (okay, maybe more than occasional.)

Some people like to incorporate the foods they enjoy into their daily menus. But others like to have "cheat" days, where they stick to a plan during the week, and then eat whatever they'd like on the weekends (for example). But a study in the International Journal of Obesity showed that people who ate a consistent number of calories all week long were 50% more likely to maintain their weight than those who stuck to a stricter plan Monday through Friday.

One reason I'm not a fan of "cheat" days is because many people just end up looking forward to those few days a week when they can enjoy the foods they love, instead of learning how to incorporate those foods into their everyday life. I think it's fine to plan for those special occasions like your father's birthday party or a girls night out when you're going to eat a little more than usual. But this research shows that might not be a good strategy on a regular basis.

Calorie cycling is another option to use instead of "cheat" days, whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight. Eating varying amounts of calories during the week (that still add up to what you need over the week as a whole) keeps your body from getting used to a specific routine. This can help with weight loss, but also helps you plan for those days when you know you're going to eat a little more, and those days when you know you don't need quite as much.

What do you think about "cheat" days? Do they work for you? Do you use other techniques like calorie cycling or budgeting for extra treats on a regular basis?


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Comments

  • 661
    I don't do cheat days. There's nothing I can't have in moderation so why would I? And if I have too much to eat at one meal I really like to get back on track with the next. - 6/30/2014   12:59:42 PM
  • ALLISONKARA01
    660
    I am also not in favor of cheat days. I find myself pretty off schedule. I mean, diet means a strict balance. Why do cheat days? I also used to cheat days, but then I quit on them and it has been quite some time. - 5/5/2014   4:41:19 AM
  • 659
    I don't do cheat days because they can throw me off track for weeks. As the article mentioned, I try to work in "bad" foods to my daily budget of points. (I follow Weight Watchers). If I want to eat a slice or two of pizza, that is fine, but then I need to eat a lighter lunch, like salad with crab, or a lighter soup. It's been working for me that way so far. I used to have a problem with alcohol (a pretty large problem), and that's been the hardest part for me is avoiding binge drinking. The Spark community has helped a lot. I'm always looking for new motivation buddies... it's what keeps me going! - 3/16/2014   4:43:32 PM
  • 658
    I do not really think that I would want to be able to cheat all weekend long and be expected not to wreck the successes I had prior to that.. I know my body and I know that it would not respond to well to all that cheating ... - 1/30/2014   6:08:33 PM
  • NOVICIA
    657
    I have cheat meals on holidays, obviously, but rarely else. Sometimes I'll choose to eat at maintenance calories for a day, to shake up the routine, especially when eating out since I know I'll need extra calories for a truly satisfying meal that is worth the money. But those days are usually less than twice a month, including takeout and movie theater popcorn.

    When on vacation at Disney (about 1 consecutive week a year), I generally take 25,000 steps a day and all of the rules and counting get thrown out the window. Never lose while there, but never gain. - 1/1/2014   10:50:30 AM
  • 656
    When I first started this journey I allowed myself 1 "cheat" meal per week and stuck to plan for the rest of the week. But I soon found that was unrealistic. My cravings were through the roof, and that 1 "cheat" meal often ended up turning into a cheat day.

    Since discovering this, I have simply found a way to work foods I like into my plan. I've searched for healthier versions, and make adjustments when and where I need to. If I want something really bad (the new brownie & chocolate chip cakes from Sara Lee are my guilty pleasure), I always consult my meal tracker to see how many more calories and how much more fat, carbs etc. I'm allowed for the day. If I'm too close to the limit, and don't do it. If I have a good bit to spare, I enjoy a guilty pleasure or 2 in moderation. Otherwise, I have worked healthier (fewer calories, a shorter ingredient list, less sat fat, less sodium, no high fructose corn syrup or partially-hydrogenated oils etc.) versions of my favorite snacks and foods into my plan, I track everything and I eat everything in moderation. I also am careful to go by serving sizes so nothing sneaks past. That process seems to be much more effective. My super-heightened cravings are gone, I don't have any more out-of-control days and I'm at or under my limits each day.

    That 1 cheat day may not seem like a lot, but part of the "cheating" is that most people don't tend to track anything on those days. That means you have no idea how much damage you've really done. Just find ways to make what you like healthier, follow serving sizes and eat in moderation, and it won't be necessary! - 12/12/2013   4:53:31 PM
  • CICIXO89
    655
    I don't do a cheat day, but every Friday I have 1 cheat meal. That way I can still indulge a little but its not going overboard. I also stay within my calorie range. Works for me! - 9/27/2013   6:08:57 PM
  • 654
    I definitely allow myself my Saturday evening TREAT (not cheat). Not only is it a good mental reset for me, but 1) it helps me stay on track all week long because I know I have Saturday evening to have whatever I want, 2) that means that I can do this week after week after week, forever, because I know that 95% of the time I will eat healthily (which, by the way, I do love) without being forever deprived of what I want; 3) I don't have to feel anxious about going to a birthday party or other gathering (usually on Saturdays) because I know it's my day to have whatever treats I want, 4) most importantly, I truly believe that having a treat days resets my leptin levels which in turn boosts my metabolism again. - 9/23/2013   9:46:09 AM
  • 653
    About 10 years ago I started working out and rejoined Weight Watchers. Yes, I am a yo-yo dieter. Over the course of a year I lost 80 pounds by following the program and working out religiously.

    I was also a member of the "cheat plan". I would give myself 1 day a week to eat whatever it was I wanted. I followed WW faithfully, but I found that by giving myself permission to have what I craved on that one day made it seem less of a need to think or worry about falling off the program. I never felt the urge to go crazy and binge because I knew I could have what I wanted on my 1 cheat day (usually a Saturday or Sunday). There were times when I craved something and I would tell myself that I had to wait a few days, and then, by the time my cheat day came, I had lost the desire for it. It’s all about giving yourself permission on 1 day out of 7, to eat what it is you want. That doesn’t mean you’re going to eat a carton of ice cream or a large pizza! But by allowing yourself the splurge, the focus becomes the food and how it feels in your mouth and tastes instead of the guilt and self-talk of how you shouldn't be eating this and oh well, I might as well eat the whole bag because I’m already over the edge. You, by allowing the 1 day, are still in control. And isn't that what losing weight is all about…staying in control?

    I also made a wonderful discovery and this is probably the most important and beneficial, yes…beneficial, side to allowing a cheat day. In my case, having a cheat day would reset my metabolism! I NEVER had a plateau in my weight loss. Typically, when dieting, your body gets used to the program you’re on and freezes up trying to hold on because it thinks it’s in famine mode. But then you throw some additional fuel on the fire that one "cheat" day and your metabolism heats up once again and keeps on burning until you’re back to embers, and you fuel it again (1 day only) and voila! Fired up once more!

    I know many will disagree with what I've said, but by reading the other's comments, I know I'm not alone. I am a proud member of the "Cheaters Club"! : )
    - 9/16/2013   11:28:39 AM
  • 652
    I REALLY try not to have cheat days, although I accidentally do it sometimes since I am not perfect! It just revives that desire for too much of the wrong things. I like the idea of the calorie cycling and have been trying it although 1) I find it more difficult than a specific daily goal and 2) I would like to see research on it. Anyone heard of any? - 9/16/2013   10:05:53 AM
  • 651
    So far no cheat days here. I don't believe it reflects the values that you're trying to strive for. "Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret." - 8/24/2013   5:33:06 PM
  • CINDYM1963
    650
    I definitely treat myself once in awhile but a whole day of treats (or cheats)? Not for me. It's just too easy for me to fall off track.

    There really is no "one size fits all" way to lose/maintain weight. Interesting topic! - 8/21/2013   12:38:24 AM
  • 649
    "Cheat/treat days" are a slippery slope for me. It's hard to plan them because social events sometimes come up at the last moment...
    It works much better for me to integrate some treats into my daily routine, I feel more satisfied & able to stay on track if I do it this way. - 6/26/2013   8:31:42 AM
  • 648
    I can attest to the carb cycling. Is the method I currently use and it allows me to be alot more flexible with what I eat. - 6/22/2013   9:01:43 PM
  • BALLETLOTUS
    647
    Earlier in my SparkPeople journey, I was doing the Cheat Day and it was hard to schedule everything in on that day because it ment passing up normal things on a daily basis. I seriously felt denied which made me understand bulimia, which scared me. I tried calorie cycling and it was better. Now that I'm in maintance mode, I changed that mentality where I will allow myself a bit of what I'm craving but still be vigillant in my calorie consumption for the day. - 6/22/2013   5:31:46 PM
  • 646
    I don't have a "Cheat Day" per se, but for the last 18 years, my husband and I have had pizza and wine on Fridays. I estimated as best I could how many calories were in the pizza, and so on Friday afternoon, I do a heavy load of cardio and weight lifting, to "burn off" the number of calories for the day that go over my limit. It's worked for me since 2007. - 6/20/2013   8:45:42 AM
  • DELLMEL
    645
    I do a cheat day on Friday with my hubby. Watching t.v and munching on Frito and popcorn. Maybe we will have a pastrami sandwich for dinner with the works on it. Maybe a hotdog all the way. - 6/4/2013   8:30:29 AM
  • EXCELDREAM
    644
    I went on vacation and figured out (with a nutritionist) how many calories I could eat to maintain my weight. I didn't want to spend vacation time losing weight. Armed with my increased calorie target, I enjoyed one cocktail each evening, a small ice cream one day, relaxed a bit at meals and felt luxurious. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the message from SparkPeople that since I was getting over 100 minutes of aerobic exercise each day that I STILL wasn't getting enough calories and could actually slow down my calorie burn. Go figure! I didn't gain weight, but I didn't lose the weight I thought I might since I only got up to my maintenance target one of four days. - 6/1/2013   6:52:19 AM
  • 643
    I call it a "treat", because "cheat" sounds so negative! I pick event (not a whole day) per week to eat something I normally wouldn't--like a couple of beers, or a glass of sangria, or a slice of homemade German Chocolate cake at a friend's birthday party. But it's not a free-for-all, and it goes in the Tracker. One time I hit 2300 calories for the day, but usually it lands me in the 1800-2000 calories range, which is hardly terrible. (Ordinarily, I eat consume about 1450 calories per day, midrange for my high activity level.)

    The once-a-week-treats haven't slowed my weight loss pace (10 lbs in 33 days!), and I've realized they actually are healthy in terms of maintaining some semblance of a normal social life. Otherwise, I would avoid most events, end up missing my friends and feeling lonely---a pretty good reason to halt to weight loss efforts! - 5/20/2013   4:22:37 PM
  • AMARANTHA120S
    642
    Calorie cycling within a reasonable range works best for me rather than having "cheat" days. - 5/18/2013   11:11:59 PM
  • HEZOD1
    641
    A single cookie opens the door and lets the rest of the batch in to party. I cannot stop at one (cookie, piece of pie, slice of pizza...ANYTHING). I know this about myself. So, six days a week, I weigh my portions, count my calories and touch no junk food. I go crazy on Saturdays. I've managed to lose 70 pounds in a year, and have been maintaining at 134-136 for six months now. I know I will have to, pretty much, eat this way for the rest of my life.

    It isn't for everyone, but moderation has never worked for me. I am an all or nothing person. It's not the ideal way to be, it's not the healthiest way to live, but it's the middle ground I've found between complete deprivation and gluttony. - 5/14/2013   11:20:39 AM
  • 640
    I enjoy cheat days more because I don't have to calorie count. I eat what I want but listen to my body. - 5/1/2013   10:33:56 PM
  • 639
    i just eat healthy till something comes up. Like the hubby brings home doughnuts or the kid is going over to her moms and we have pizza night. but for the rest of that day i eat good. I do try and eat pretty healthy and stick to the plan mon-friday cause the weekends we normally eat out at least one meal and i know the total at the end of the day will be bad. If you can stick to that one day a week eatting whatever and the other 6 healthy days its whatever works for you. - 4/25/2013   2:43:56 PM
  • PRAIRIEMIMI
    638
    I agree with what others have said. Occasionally I treat myself to a food or meal higher in sugar, fats, carbs etc. moderation is the key. For me it wouldn't be a special meal or treat if I could have it one or two days every week. That concept for me would not work. - 4/19/2013   10:35:19 AM
  • 637
    My cheat days tend to turn into cheat weeks & then I tend to lose control. - 3/30/2013   6:07:20 PM
  • 636
    I have had to eliminate cheat days because one cheat day turns into two cheat days and so on and so on. For me, it's a slippery slope. - 10/19/2012   6:38:09 AM
  • 635
    I don't designate "cheat" days, but there are times where I indulge more than usual. I'm trying very hard to limit the occurrences! Then I resume my normal healthier habits the next day.

    I think knowing a day was a "cheat" day would encourage me to indulge even though I didn't want / need to, if that makes sense. Otherwise, I just take it one day at a time trying to make healthy choices. If a special occasion comes up, I try to plan for it. But I think I would have more cheat days if I actually planned them than I would otherwise. - 10/16/2012   1:01:54 PM
  • 634
    I don't have any 'off' days as yet, as I like structure and order and I still haven't mastered my lifestyle yet. However, I don't like the idea of a 'cheat' day; for me, it's a very slippery slope that I just don't trust myself on right now.
    Once I'm ready, I think I'll have an 'off' day....from tracking. I do love tracking now, but I think in time all the weighing and measuring will get weary. Even on those days, I reckon I'll pretty much stick to how I'm eating now, with maybe a few extras slotted in there. - 10/16/2012   11:09:52 AM
  • 633
    For starters, I don't do diet food. I eat the same foods I've always eaten, the only difference now is that I eat more often and much smaller portions.

    Secondly, I don't do "cheat" days and that's because I don't have a whole list of foods that I "can't" eat. Do I ocassionally take a day off from my weight loss program? ABSOLUTELY!!!

    I realized pretty early in my weight loss journey that I would never reach my goals if I didn't take a day off every now and then. Losing weight is hard work and after losing 50+lbs, I deserve to take a day off whenever I want. It's no different than the time off I take from my career. Yes, I love my job but I can't do it 24/7. I NEED to take time off every week.

    Now, having said that, when I do take a day off, it generally doesn't last more than a day and the next day, I'm back on my regular weight loss program and may even kick up my exercise program for a day or two. - 10/15/2012   1:07:11 PM
  • 632
    My "cheat day" is basically Friday nights or all day Saturday... sometimes both. I generally try to keep some healthy choices in there, and won't pick a 1200 calorie single meal just bc it is my "day off", but will eat stuff I normally do not. I started this tradition basically as a way to not have to cook as much after a long week and also bc I am a flexitarian that generally does not buy meat for her household. Sometimes, I just have to have that chicken or that burger... sometimes. As others have said: moderation is key. - 10/15/2012   10:52:26 AM
  • COLLEEN20
    631
    life is short - got to have some treats along the way. Moderation is key. - 9/14/2011   3:47:42 AM
  • 630
    I concur with most of the people here. A day where you can't stick to a strict routine is not a 'cheat' day. If I put aside one or two days to 'cheat' I would eat as much as possible on those days and totally blow myself out of the water. However, if I'm going out for a special dinner, to a wedding, to the State Fair, I'm not limiting myself to apples and water! I'm going to eat what I love for that one meal and then go back to my routine for the rest of the day and week. - 9/13/2011   4:55:49 PM
  • 629
    I love my cheat day! I would not be able to stick to my healthy eating during the week, if I did not have one day to look forward to of not having to count calories, watch what goes into my mouth, and worry about eating all the fruits and veggies my body needs.

    I don't like feeling deprived. I've been on eating plans where you can have the "everything in moderation" thing - but I don't want a tiny slice of cake when I'm craving cake. I want a real piece. I don't want a tiny sliver of a taste of pizza. I don't want a scraping of dark chocolate. I want to actually taste and enjoy good (unhealthy) food! I also don't want to "give in" and have that piece of cake and then feel guilty and know I can't eat anything else the rest of the day. That's no way to live.

    Having my cheat day allows me to avoid going crazy and gorging. It allows me my sanity. I know that I can wait until my "cheat day" to have that piece of cake, pizza, etc. Without the cheat day, I would not be able to stick to my plan. The one day I give myself gives me the strength to be healthy the other 6 days of the week.

    And as for consistency - I am consistent. I eat well 6 days of the week and I eat poorly 1 day. 99% of the time it's the same day. I will change it if I know there's a special occasion or event coming up (i.e. date night, birthday party, etc.), but it's always just ONE day. The next morning, I am back on track.

    I know that it's going to take me longer to reach my goal weight, but this is a lifelong journey and I have the rest of my life to follow this plan. Isn't the whole point of changing your lifestyle to do so in a way that you can stick with it? I finally found a healthy eating style that I can stick with!

    And granted, I've only been on this journey for 12 weeks - but I've lost over 15 pounds in those 12 weeks, so something is working with what I'm doing. Studies or no studies, I need to do what works for me. And this works. It's something I can maintain until the day I die and that is all that is important to me. - 8/5/2011   11:02:22 PM
  • 628
    I know for myself, when I have cheat days it can set me back quite a bit as far as the scale goes...I've experienced this twice of the last couple of weeks....was doing great through the week...and boom the weekend hit and not so good when the scale screamed at me those Monday mornings - 7/27/2011   9:56:02 AM
  • 627
    I make sure to incorporate some of my favorite foods in to my new lifestyle on a daily basis but sometimes I just need a day to cut loose. Usually, it does end up being on a weekend and I indulge in (probably a lot more than necessary) some unhealthy food. I just make sure to work out the morning of and most certainly the morning after. I also do attempt to calorie cycle; if I know I'm going to be having an upcoming "free" day I try to eat less in the days before it. - 7/26/2011   11:19:49 PM
  • 626
    Zigzagging really works for me. When one day is higher on the calorie range (or just over) and the next day is lower on the range. But not below. Thanks for all the good comments. - 7/26/2011   9:59:05 PM
  • 625
    I like what everyone has contributed here.
    For me, I am know there will be times when I need to choose from less than healthy foods, usually on weekends, out at dinners. Then I can choose smaller portions (think French women). Other times I try to remember to carry portable, unprocessed snacks, like an apple, pear, raisins, almonds and always bring my water. I really trully hate the concepts behinds words like cheating and dieting, as others have said. - 4/19/2011   8:45:40 PM
  • 624
    One thing this article doesn't address is the issue of insulin levels. For someone like myself, a Type 2 diabetic and sugar addict, it's important that I balance each of my meals properly. Rather than risk throwing my metabolism out of whack by throwing caution to the wind once a week, I incorporate my less-nutritious favorites into my daily nutrition plan (and, isn't that what a healthier lifestyle is all about, anyway?). Eating this way has changed my desire for food; I no longer have out-of-control sugar or junk food cravings, and I never feel deprived! A healthy attitude towards food means never having to think in terms of "cheating", and that's a freedom I embrace and will cherish for the rest of my life. - 4/19/2011   12:43:40 PM
  • SCONSOLE-
    623
    I like what other members have said here. I don't "cheat" I account for what I will be eating and I have a smaller portion than I would have historically. For instance Pasta Dinner @ moms on Sunday, 1st I fill up on salad and veggies so that my portion size for the pasta is much smaller. By the way our family only has Sunday dinner so I eat a healthy breakfast of grapefruit (maybe a to-go bar) and then the dinner. There's also room in my caloric intake for dessert. During the fall I'd substitute the pasta with spaggheti squash and have the same sauce on it as the rest of my family. I'm still losing the weight but have already lost 10 lbs the 1st month. - 4/19/2011   11:58:30 AM
  • 622
    If this is truly to be a lifestyle change, then that involves me working in and accepting that sometimes, it's going to be impossible to stick to my caloric range. I also, having studied eating disorders for my thesis, know that trying to stay on a strict schedule all week long sets you up for the 'what the heck effect', wherein one small 'bad' food (say getting a rich dessert at lunch out with friends) leads to a binge of bad foods because "it's all ruined anyway", which leads to days of going off kilter. That's not realistic or healthy, either. I don't book a weekly cheat day, but I do track a goal where I aim to stay in range at least 5 days per week. Why 5? Because I am saying to myself that one day, I may go a little fruit crazy (sweet tooth) and go over by 50 calories (my range set by my doctor is really low, so it isn't hard). I am saying, "I may get stuck eating out on campus and having to choose something unhealthy". I am saying, "Saturday could be a birthday party, or all you can eat sushi with friends." I am saying, "Life happens, and I accept that perfect compliance is impossible," so that the next day, I just go right back to work without guilt. This blog is way too negative on something that, for overeaters or even former bulimics, can be a huge help for staying healthy. I'm sort of disappointed with the one-sidedness, SP. Strict adherence isn't normal for a lifestyle change, either. - 4/13/2011   10:41:43 AM
  • MARINO124
    621
    Using the work or the concept "cheat" implies that you are "wronging" or outside the track. But who exactly are you cheating if not yourself? It's not about self control or cheating if you're on a lifestyle change. I want to stay true and accountable for myself, not a system or way of doing... That's a diet and I refuse to use that word! - 3/29/2011   3:04:19 PM
  • 620
    Reading through the other comments, it seems that the helpfulness of a more relaxed day depends on one's personality. If you are the type to need more structure to stay on course, it will probably not work for you. I'm the type to need something in sight to look forward to. Maybe using food as a reward isn't such a great idea. ;) So I like the thought of a "mental break" instead of a "cheat day". - 3/15/2011   9:23:38 AM
  • 619
    Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love eating healthy. The recipes I get from this website are awsome and the food tastes better than my old meals, hands down. My husband is also excited and enjoys all (or most, anyway) the new dishes.

    But, I am a firm believer in my "free" day. It's each and every Sunday. It's what keeps me from feeling deprived. About a month ago, I was craving caramel popcorn on a Tuesday. I bought a small container, put it in the cupboard and smiled as I thought about the upcoming Sunday. Guess what? It's in the cupboard, unopened right now. It often happens that way, and probably half of my Sundays I eat as healthy as all other days of the week. But, if i were to tell myself "no" to my cravings, I would eventually give in, splurge and find myself in the down spiral. You know the one, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing...I'm so disgusted with myself I think I'll eat another....I can't believe I ate the whole thing....". I also agree with the post about it being a free mental day. No computer!! Yeah!

    I started in September, and am only 6 lbs from my goal weight!

    If people are not comfortable trusting themselves with a "free" day, that's what works for them. I also do not worry about the study referenced here. I am as unique as my fingerprints and what works for me may not work for anyone else. - 3/14/2011   2:57:52 PM
  • 618
    I need one cheat treat a month. Yes, PMS is the absolute worst! I've learned to stop stress/emotional eating, however at times I feel like those hormones are beyond my control. If I allow one whole candy bar or one "personal sized" ice cream bowls (that actually have 2 servings in them) I feel much more sane than if I tried to resist the entire time. So yes, I need something sometimes! - 2/15/2011   1:58:11 PM
  • 617
    I really don't like the word 'cheat'. It implies a negative impact. The word 'diet' also has a negative connotation behind it. It is from years of people following starvation & crazy restricting diets.

    Diet implies that there is an end in sight, which is why everyone says they don't work. Most people diet until they reach their goal, then quickly or slowly return to their old eating habits that got them into trouble in the first place.

    Think of your diet as what you are eating each day and diet as synonymous with 'nutrition', with no end in sight.

    If you really want to be successful in your quest for weight loss, you need to learn how to incorporate foods that you love into your diet in moderation, find a plan that works for you and your lifestyle. That means if your family has pizza night every friday, plan for it and enjoy it in moderation. Balance it with what you eat the remainder of the day WITHOUT starving yourself and maybe exercise a little more that day or divide it up throughout the week.

    For some people, that might mean 1/2 scoop of ice cream each night. If that is something you really love, find a way to make it work. Just don't fool yourself into thinking that a pint of ice cream is a 1/2 cup. Point is, different things work for different lifestyles-if you like to have a 'cheat' day, or a 'cheat a day', find a way to make it work and you'll be more successful.

    I sure know how to talk the talk, what I need help with is walking the walk. ;-) - 2/15/2011   1:09:17 PM
  • 616
    I look forward to my "treat" day. I don't consider it a cheat at all because it's the day of the week to enjoy one of my favourite foods in moderation. It's a little like enjoying the holidays or a vacation -- eat a food I like above all others, but only a portion or two of it. Moderation is another lesson I have to learn about losing weight and changing my eating and living habits. For me it's not enough to strictly and mindlessly follow an eating schedule but to learn when enough food is enough food. My Saturday evening pizza is my lesson: I eat to enjoy, I use more veggies and less pepperoni, I use low fat mozzarella instead of full fat, and eat some of it rather than all of it. It's another way to learn when my stomach is full and satisfied instead of stuffing food in me robotically. - 1/25/2011   7:50:18 PM
  • 615
    I personally do not use or like cheat days. I have come so far and know that if I go one day a week, it could simply become two and so on. What I have done is allowed myself to have something different, not cheating necessarily, but something off my program. The key for me is that I add it to my calories for the day. I am really dilegent about how many calories I get in a day and know that if I go over, I must work out harder or cut a little off the next day. It seems really anal, but when you have lost over 130 pounds, this is the only way for me to keep it off. - 1/25/2011   2:42:52 PM
  • MAMACATLEWIS
    614
    Here's why a "cheat day" works for me: I get to have a mental break. Dieting for me is hard mental work. I constantly monitor myself, weigh and count my food, watch every bite going into my mouth because I know if I let my guard down even for a moment, I can hurt myself.

    A cheat day gives me a mental break. I feel refreshed and relaxed. I don't go nuts, I just don't measure, count or monitor. I just eat. Sometimes I like to have something I would never eat, sometimes I eat about the same things on my diet. But, I get that "day off" break that I need so desperately.

    It's not about gorging on doughnuts (I don't even like doughnuts) or pizza (okay, love the pie!!), it's about regrouping and refreshing. Then, I can get back to program.

    The bonus is that I can take my kids out for ice cream and I can be "normal" and just have a small scoop, instead of being "mom's on a diet, she's getting a water!" I get a break, and I get to be "normal" for my kids sakes. (They are healthy weights and eat well, with some splurges.)
    - 1/25/2011   8:12:15 AM
  • DOGSHOETAT
    613
    At this point I simply don't trust myself with a cheat day, or a cheat meal, for that matter. I find that it weakens my resolve too much because in the past a cheat meal has turned out like this: I'll have a cheat meal, then figure I'll just make a day of it. Before I know it I've got a cheat weekend on my hands and by the time Monday rolls around I feel like I've blown it anyway and just give up entirely. I like what the author said about incorporating those foods into your everyday life. I don't feel like a single slice of birthday cake on top of an otherwise reasonable meal is going to throw me for a loop in quite the same way as an entirely unhealthy meal would. - 1/24/2011   2:42:36 PM
  • 612
    I have kind of had cheat days on Sat and Sun. Haven't really "cheated" but haven't eaten what I "normally" eat. While watching a football game I'll chips and salsa and veggies and that would be my lunch. During the week I wouldn't do that. This weekend I decided that I would stick to my weekday routine and see how that went. I'll find out tomorrow as my weigh in is then .... but I know I feel better about myself. You're right, if you have cheat days I don't think you learn .... this is a lifestyle and we all have to figure out how to make it work for us and once we've lost the weight we want to we have to learn and remember how to keep it off. So, my vote is no cheat days. - 1/23/2011   8:53:19 PM

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