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Cheat Days: Do They Work Or Are They Just Sabotage



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VANHALENFAN
VANHALENFAN's Photo Posts: 434
7/10/13 4:27 P

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I've tried and tried in the past to justify cheat days, or even just cheat meals - but, honestly, it just does not work for me at all. It completely derails me and I've found that even 1 day or even 1 meal really does screw up a whole week's progress. Now, of course we're always going to have to face those times when we're going to eat a heavy(ier) meal. It just can't be often at all. Once a month, maybe. I was trying once per week in the past and that was a big problem for me. This is where I stand currently.

Kris


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WADINGMOOSE
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7/10/13 4:12 P

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I've recently discovered the sugar hangover. Salt can also do it to me, but not as bad. It definitely makes me think twice when I've got sugar in front of me!



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AUGUSTREADY
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7/10/13 4:07 P

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SLIMMERKIWI - it's always good to hear other opinions; thanks for sharing.

I think you may be reading a bit too much into my comments - I enjoy cooking and eat very tasty meals which I enjoy...and I love cooking for others and the whole social aspect of entertaining etc...

What I meant was I don't eat to get pleasure...I eat to fuel my body.

Hope that makes more sense...





JUSTEATREALFOOD
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7/10/13 7:08 A

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Every couple months I go out to my favorite indian buffet restaurant. I stuff myself full of chicken korma, butter chicken, Baingan Patiala, Zucchini Masala and tandoori chicken. I don't eat the nann, pakoras, rice or samosas as I'd rather eat all the sauces and meats. It hasn't hindered me.

I have in the past eaten too many sweets for a treat on Christmas or a birthday. The next day I have had a sugar hangover and cravings for more sweets for a few days.

IMO what you cheat/treat/splurge on matters more that the actual cheat/treat/splurge itself.

JERF - Just Eat Real Food


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I eat mostly vegetables, fats, meats, some fruit and dark chocolate. Unprocessed and preservative free. And it's changed my life!

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MISSRUTH
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7/10/13 6:19 A

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IDK if you've read the article Becky provided the link for-- it's very good. Personally, I don't care for the word "cheat"-- it implies dishonesty / disception and just says plain old, this is wrong, you shouldn't do this-- to me.

I don't think there's anything wrong with planning for a "splurge", like a dinner out or (like Becky mentions in the article) "banking" some calories during the week to use up on another day. So your overall average for the week is still within range. The danger imo is in so restricting your eating, that you feel the need to give yourself a day off to eat whatever you've deemed "forbidden". It has worked much better for me, to incorporate things like pizza and burgers or a serving of chips or ice cream or the occasion Little Debbies, into my eating plan for the day. I like to hit the bottom of my range with all healthy choices; it leaves me with a couple hundred calories every day for a treat. Maybe I'll choose to eat some watermelon and a little trail mix. Maybe I'll choose ice cream instead. Maybe I'm not particularly hungry and I skip the treat-- which leaves me with a couple hundred calories in the "bank" for another day.

The way I used to eat (before Spark) was like every day was a "cheat" day. And that way of eating, is what got me here. So to continue with any kind of "cheat" days, would be trying to hold on to that old way of life. And for me, that just wasn't going to cut it any more.

Ruth in Cookeville, TN Central Time Zone


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ROSEWCI
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7/10/13 5:16 A

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I debated whether I would even comment here because I'm not caring for the topic of "cheat days". It would seem to imply that I'm deceiving myself or worse yet, sabotaging my goals...& that's not acceptable. I choose to plan what I'm going to consume & act accordingly. For me, it's about maintaining control. It's about being mindful about what I'm eating. If I choose to eat over my allotted calories, then I must either increase activity or cut back calories the next day...it just makes better sense for me to do it this way. I know our bodies lock into a weight & will slow down to conserve energy. It's very efficient that way! And adjusting caloric intake can keep the metabolism from becoming sluggish...I get it. I just don't want an excuse to go off plan...cause it takes me too long to get back on track! The thing here is, know thyself!

Rose
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If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it. -William Arthur Ward





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SLIMMERKIWI
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7/10/13 4:42 A



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AUGUSTREADY - for me, the food isn't JUST about sustaining a healthy life. There are a number of factors that come into it. Likes and dislikes, pleasure .... yes - PLEASURE from eating food. I am not one to binge in the normal sense and never have, and I don't 'use' food to help with stress etc. There are a myriad of things that need to be taken into account - for me. Things like taste; smell; texture; colours/visual appeal. I tend to eat at the lower end of my calorie range most of the time, and this accommodates my 'permission' day nicely. It allows me to have things I wouldn't otherwise have, and would feel deprived if I didn't. When a person is permanently on a fairly low calorie diet (I am meaning around the 1500-1600 cal's daily to maintain) AND needs lots of fibre (think 40-50 grams daily), it doesn't give much opportunity to eat some of the normal treats, on a regular basis because it would mean some of the more necessary foods would get biffed out the window, OR we would just gain weight again. I have always practiced this method and it works really well for me, and for a number of others. It's just a case of finding what works best for us as an individual.

Kris

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MIMAWELIZABETH
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7/10/13 4:23 A

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Since the healthiest way to lose weight is to lose gradually, and focus on an overall healthier lifestyle, my comment is about having a cheat day (or meal) in conjunction with eating a regular level of calories and then "splurging."

Do they work, or are they sabotage? The answer is, both yes AND no.

Any kind of eating strategy works (or doesn't work) based on how the person doing it feels - I mean emotionally - about everything: themselves, the plan, how they react to what Life throws their way, and a hundred other factors.

Not only does it stand that what works for me may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for me; but what worked in the past for either of us may not work now... but maybe it WILL work if we try it in the future.

On Spark, they say, we are "an experiment of one." When I read your topic title, it clicked for me that how I'd answer your question is the key to understanding what that phrase means. Give it a try - tweak what doesn't work, and/or stop.


P.S. For me personally, yes, I have "splurges" that are - usually - planned in advance. Rather than saving up calories, however, I work around the extra food by adjusting my eating plans the day before, day of, and the day after.

If I do lose control and overeat one day, I deal with the calories the same, just after the fact. Either way, the most important part of whether "splurging" is a successful strategy is what one does AFTER... that's one of the emotional aspects.

If splurging leads to uncontrolled eating for days - that's my old pattern - the reason isn't because of the food. Beyond the "stop overeating," the solution is look at your emotions and what's going on mentally. It may be really, really hard...

BUT, I know we DO have the strength to face those feelings, and start working through them - even if it's just a bit at a time. To understand the emotions of the binging or overeating episode is to truly have the power to stop the downward spiral.

I didn't mean to write so much... Best wishes on your Spark Journey!
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Edited by: MIMAWELIZABETH at: 7/10/2013 (04:23)

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AUGUSTREADY
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7/10/13 4:09 A

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This seems to be a favourite topic here....!

Personally, I don't see any need to "cheat" as my goals are more important than any temporal pleasure I can get through eating stuff my body doesn't need.

Far too many people associate far too much pleasure with eating food instead of seeing it for what it really is - fuel that gives us energy to pursue the things that really matter in life...:-)



RUSSELL_40
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7/10/13 12:44 A

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Since weight loss is based on your average caloric consumption, why would you eat less for 6 days, then splurge on day 7. You could just have 1 scoop of ice cream, or 1 slice of pizza as part of your regular meal.

I managed a pizzeria, and people never seemed to understand that a medium pizza was for 4 people, and to have a salad with 2 slices to have a balanced meal. Instead a guy would eat 5, and his girlfriend would eat 3, with a po, and some wings.

Once you use the words " cheat meal ", you have already assigned a negative connotation to it. You consider it a license to pig out. What usually happens is you eat 2000 calories, and over 7 days it is 280 calories each day. You could easily fit in the ice cream or pizza twice a week, and have just 400-600 extra calories, saving yourself 200 calories a day average, which would help you lose almost 1/2 a lb a week.

Pizza, and ice cream can be part of most diets.

Russell - current BMI 28.6
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BETZYGIRL
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7/9/13 8:47 P

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I don't do "cheat" days because for me the idea of adding a "cheat" day gives me the permission to start "cheating" and it's hard for me to stop. I like the "permission" idea better, that puts me in control. I also plan ahead when I know we are going out so I won't have to worry about going beyond my calorie range just a bit. I also know that I'm a "salty/crunch" type of person so I schedule chips in a couple times a week and make sure I weigh them out so I don't get an uncontrollable craving. Lifestyle is what it's all about, not a diet, so I can keep it off when I reach my goal.

"He hath showed thee, O Man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee - but to DO JUSTLY, and to LOVE MERCY, and to WALK HUMBLY with thy God." Micah 6:8

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. What I do with it is what counts!


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SLIMMERKIWI
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7/9/13 8:06 P



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BUNNYKICKS - I NEVER said 'no tracking' - LOL! I DO still track. To me it is very important to track everything - the good, the bad and the ugly. That is how I average out my calories and know what I need to stay at to maintain/(lose/gain.) As an example, today is my "permission day" - in the wee hours (I was, sadly, awake for about 4 hrs during the night) I had SIXTEEN Fruit and Fibre Breakfast Biscuits - 895 calories and 13g fibre. BUT because I had that, I didn't have (need) much breakfast. I know I will be over for the day, but probably only by about 300 calories.

Kris


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I am not a Dr - please check with your qualified Health Professional for a diagnosis and treatment plan


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BUNNYKICKS
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7/9/13 7:52 P

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Ooo I like that - "permission" day.

Language has power. I don't care for the word "cheat" as it implies that I have to be sneaky and duplicitous and covert-undercover and hope nobody catches me, just in order to have some food that is less-than-stellar nutritionally. I don't want to feel that way. But by changing my word choice, I don't have to! I can PLAN for a high-cal day or a no-tracking weekend, I can PERMIT myself to have some flexibility to exceed my ranges or eat something more junky than i typically would....

When I decide to go over on calories or have something nutritionally deficient... I try to be mindful about it. I try to think... if I eat this [whatever thing], it may set back my weight loss by a few days or a week. Is that a fair trade off? Most often the answer is no - but sometimes, the answer is YES. As long as I "keep it real" with myself and understand that choices have consequences, I think I'll be alright.

Goal 1 - break 200 (46 pounds lost)**DONE**
Goal 2 - leave obesity behind (BMI 29.9, at 185#) **DONE**
Goal 3 - BMI = Normal (154# or less)


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SLIMMERKIWI
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7/9/13 7:32 P



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I believe a lot depends on a person's personality and ability to control themselves on the other days.

I practice what you term a 'cheat day' but I don't call it that. We can't cheat at this at all. What I do refer to it as is giving myself permission to eat whatever I want one day in every 2 weeks (when I was in weight-loss mode) and 1 day per week in maintenance, BUT in maintenance I still eat the other days as tho' I am in weight-loss mode. Sometimes it may be a few days extra, and occasionally a day or two sooner, but it averages out. I have been maintaining for nearly 3 years, and only fluctuated up/down a couple lb in that time.

Some people (me included) find that knowing we won't have to cut out foods that we enjoy, but instead just have them occasionally, helps us to stay on track. It is the deprivation and telling yourself that you CAN'T have it that can cause many people to fall off the wagon.

Kris

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I am not a Dr - please check with your qualified Health Professional for a diagnosis and treatment plan


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HEALTHYFOREVER4
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7/9/13 4:49 P

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I used to have "cheat" days. In the past 2 months, since I came back to SP, I haven't had them. I eat what I want to eat, in moderation. The majority of the time, I end up within my calorie range. I don't stress about it too much on the days I go over because it's usually only by a couple hundred calories. Fortunately, most of what I want and crave is whole and nutritious, so I do allow myself to eat fried chicken tenders and fries for the rare occasions I crave them (but I only eat half of my order, and take the rest home).

I think my outlook on food is much healthier now than it ever has been. I've stopped eating food when I'm not hungry, so I don't snack mindlessly or even really think about food unless I am genuinely hungry. I used to obsess about food all the time, and I would eat out of boredom or whatever. I rarely eat processed foods now. I actually had potato chips today, for the first time in over 2 months, and they were way too salty. My dad made one of those Pastaroni things the other day, and that was just gross. I figure I eat healthy the majority of the time, and I'm not on a diet--if I want to eat something not so healthy occasionally, it isn't a cheat, it's part of my healthy lifestyle. I learned the hard way that "cheat" days in the past used to throw me completely off track and turn into weeks, or even months, so I decided to forgo that route this time around.

All that being said, I know planned cheat days or meals really work for some people. If you think you may be one of those people, try it. Only you know if it will be too easy to get off track that way.

"Know your limitations. Then defy them."

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KPMP1992
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7/9/13 12:32 P

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I started Weight Watchers last month and I never really feel deprived (can't say that for the other methods I tried with losing weight).

I have heard though, that a cheat day once a week is good for the metabolism ... It "shakes things up" a bit and helps one lose weight.

Kim

Height: 5'6 Goal Weight: 135 lbs

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MEGAPEEJ
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7/9/13 12:22 P

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I think if it's planned and counted, it's a smart way to go about it (and not necessarily a "cheat"). We go out to dinner with friends almost every other weekend, and in the morning I'll look up the restaurant's menu and input what I plan to order in to my tracker. It may not be the healthiest thing in the world, and I may end up going over my calorie range by a couple hundred cals, but I still hit my target for the week and I don't feel like I can never eat anything "fun". However, it also has its limits - I'm not going to eat 3000 calories in a single day, and I still need some semblance of nutrition.

Do something everyday that your future self will thank you for.


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LOSINGFORBABY
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7/8/13 7:16 P

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My Mom's maintenance plan is very much like YOJULEZ. She has weighed around the same thing my entire life. On Friday nights she and my Dad go out to eat and she'll get what she wants (note: my mom tends toward more veggies, less french fries anyway, so her restaurant meals are closer to the 1000 mark than the 3000 mark) and will then get ice cream.

I'm intending to have the occasional cheat day -- mostly because it seems unfair to my husband that I decline his choices in food often. He is on his feet all day at work, so is able to eat way more than I am without gaining (or even losing!). I occasionally want to be able to say yes to an indulgent meal -- or make special full-fat desserts. I probably will not do this once a week, but indulgent days are certainly part of my life. I just eat on the lower end of my range and maybe sneak in an extra walk or two around them.

Jennifer


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DIETITIANBECKY
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7/8/13 7:03 P

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Take the time to read this SP article on the topic:
www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_art
icles.asp?id=1753


I think there is a much more mentally positive way to have pizza and ice cream in your eating plan---without having to "cheat."

Becky
SP Registered Dietitian Nutritionist



YOJULEZ
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7/8/13 6:07 P

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On weekends, I eat what I want. BUT, I eat less during the week (I'm maintaining so during the week I eat in the 1500-1700 range) so I can eat more of what I want on weekends. I don't consider it cheating, it is just a way to fit certain activities into my lifestyle. My SO travels for work during the week, so on weekends when he's home we go out to the bar, meet up with friends for dinner, go to sporting events etc etc, and I also cook less healthy things since that's what he likes and can eat since he needs to GAIN weight.

I will say, I rarely go overboard. I don't sit there on Saturday afternoon with a bag of chips and eat the whole thing. I don't buy cookies and eat half the package in one sitting like I used to. I still try to be mindful of what I'm putting in my mouth, I just don't keep track, and if a cheeseburger looks good, then I eat it. If I want a second beer, I drink it.

You really do have to be disciplined during the week for this to work though. There's no "oh I'll just have an extra cookie, it won't hurt me" on the days where you're on plan. Because if you do that, plus splurge on your "cheat day" or whatever you want to call it, then you will gain, or at the very least, not lose as much as you could be.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 7/8/2013 (18:08)
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NIRERIN
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7/8/13 5:42 P

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it really depends on what you consider a cheat day. if what you consider a cheat day amounts to eating in your maintenance ranges for a day, that's something that's entirely workable. if your idea of a cheat day involves a 800 cal breakfast, 1200 cal lunch, 2000 cals for dinner plus some snacks and drinks thrown in there, then that's likely going to set you back.
your level of self control will also factor in here. some people can't have a slice of pizza and not finish off the whole thing. or cookie and bag or whatever your poison happens to be. other people have the slice of pizza and go into if you give a mouse a cookie mode. or just cookie monster mode.
delaying gratification overall can help. it can help break the "see food, eat it" trap that so many of us fall into. in other words, when we see the free donuts on the table on friday, we have them right then because they might be the last donuts on earth. when you learn to delay the gratification of wanting something, it takes away that urgency and you realize that there will be donuts again next week if you want them, or there are eight places between work and home that have them or that your favorite brunch spot has really great donuts and you could get them there too.
many of us tend to plan on doing things like spending 150 cals of treats per day, which is reasonable. but what can happen is that you see starbucks on your way to work, head in for a 150 cal drink [your 150 for the day] and the rest of the day happens. so on the way back from lunch you decide to spend your 150 cals on the snickers treat bowl in the office, having forgotten that you already spent those 150 cals. and then you go home and decide to have a big glass of wine for your 150 cals, forgetting you've already spent those calories twice now. when you allot one period in the future for those sorts of things [say 600 cals worth] it lets you think all week about what you want the most instead of what happens to be right in front of you being just enough to fit your bill. and if you keep it in that place in the future it's easier to see that you can't get the drink and the snickers and the wine and the donut and the pizza and the fries and all the other little things that add up.

-google first. ask questions later.



WADINGMOOSE
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7/8/13 5:35 P

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It really depends on the person. I will have cheat days, but I also understand that it could (and does) affect my weight loss. I'm trying to limit them as much as I can and make it less about a cheat day than a cheat meal.

And even then, I'm struggling with what it really means. Is it the end of the world if my husband and I have a beer and wing night? Do I consider that "cheating" or is it just part of moderation?

I've read so much about weight loss. Do I try to eat right 80% of the time and not worry about the other 20%? I mean, I'm definitely not trying to look like Superman (although he was pretty freakin' super).

I understand that up until recently, my eating has been disordered. I don't want to swing to the other side of disordered. I'm trying to find a healthy approach. So I've been watching the healthy people around me. I'm surrounded by them at my new job. People who run at lunch every day. People who bike to work. People training for triathlons.

These people aren't afraid to have pizza. They have a bagel on bagel Friday.

They don't seem to obsess about it as much as I do :)

So, yeah. That's where I sit right now. The concept of a "cheat" meal or day seems to go against the healthy attitudes I see in healthy people when it comes to food.



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LDHAWKE
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7/8/13 5:32 P

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There is a very similar topic posted several days ago. You should find it and read the responses.

To me there is no such thing as a cheat day. I am not on diet therefore, I cannot cheat. I am on a life plan and I can eat any food I want to, as long as I keep within my daily totals. If I want my favorite pizza on Friday, then on Wednesday and Thursday I will eat at the lower end of my daily calorie total, enjoy that pizza on Friday and not have to worry about going over my daily calorie total.

I don't think it's sabotage at all. I think it's all about planning and tracking your daily food intake to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying your favorite foods.



 current weight: 193.0 
 
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MCASKEY6
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7/8/13 5:23 P

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A few weeks ago I read an article about Henry Cavill and his "Man of Steel" diet. It was a very stringent diet, but every so often he would have a cheat day and enjoy a pizza. I have heard from others that having a scheduled cheat day helps curb cravings. If, for example, you crave ice cream, you can tell yourself to wait until your cheat day and then you can have much as you like. Apparently, by the time the cheat day rolls around, most people have forgotten what they were craving. So my question is, does having a cheat day help keep you on track, or does it open the door for binge eating and ultimately sabotages the diet?



 current weight: 187.2 
 
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