Treat days - the good, the bad, and the bloated!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I am a big fan of treat/cheat day. There are stipulations they must adhere to, however.

1) They are NEVER, EVER a reward. They are scheduled in ahead of time, just like my eyebrow wax appointments, my work schedule, and my exercise.
2) I must have a healthy breakfast to start the day and get some good exercise before any bad food occurs.
3) Eat whatever quantity and lack-of-quality foods I want.
4) They occur every 7-10 days.

Why these stipulations? What would I change?

1) Food is not a reward. It is a necessity. Scheduling it in is a way to make sure I do not start putting junk food on a pedestal. Rewards ARE necessary - but for me they take their shape in pedicures, new workout clothes, a new water bottle, a date with hubby, or a night in an upscale hotel (very rare this one!) On pinterest, I recently saw a quote that said something along these lines: "You are not a dog. Do not reward yourself with food." Whoa. Big eye opener!

2) Healthy breakfast. So totally the most important. If I start my day eating crap food, I am more likely to skip exercise altogether. Which is also why it's a rule to get my exercise in before I "start" treat day. So if that means I scheduled treat day for a day I don't go to Zumba class until 1830, that's my fault. That means 2 healthy meals and probably 2 healthy snacks, then all treat day is would be supper and dessert. (Again, why I schedule it ahead of time). Plus, have you ever tried to exercise after eating a carb- fat- sodium- laden meal? Nearly impossible.

3) Quantity and poor quality. This is where I am feeling a big problem and need an overhaul. Yesterday... gross... I had quite the emotional day (I knew it was going to be emotional and planned treat day on it. BAD CHOICE!! AVOID AVOID AVOID!) See yesterday's blog about what happened. Anywho - and my food log will reflect this, Unhealthy subway with chips, a donut, mcdonald's meal AND flurry, chicken fettucini alfredo and a brownie and an ice cream treat. This. Was. Overkill. And boy am I feeling it today! I had to take off my wedding rings (which I have had taken down 2 full sizes since my weight loss). I'm bloated, gassy, headachy, and just overall uncomfortable.

My new aim is that I can still eat whatever items I want, but I need to reign it back. Next treat day is Apr 19. This is a day hubby's family is in from out of province and we want to take them to a local pub-style restaurant we love but haven't been to in a long time (due to our lifestyle change) and they also have a restaurant they like to go to when they are here. Because of my treat day rule, we've agreed to go to one for lunch, and one for supper on the same day. Also happens to be close to hubby's birthday, so we'll be celebrating that as well. My plan: Healthy breakfast, workout, small healthy snack, lunch at my favorite restaurant - entree of my choice, no appetizer, no dessert, water to drink, small unhealthy snack, supper at the other restaurant - salad with dressing on side and maybe soup/chowder.

4) Every 7-10 days. Used to be every 7ish (I do shiftwork, so my weekly schedule is not consistent). I'm happy I've upped it to 10+ on a regular basis now! This part here is CRUCIAL for how it keeps me on track the rest of the time. Making room for a small treat every day - like a chocolate or something - DOESN'T work for me - having the taste in my mouth makes me crave like a maniac and get emotional and break down and yell at my poor sweet husband for no reason.

Here's an example that occurs on a regular basis at my work:

C* is the cook for one of our sister programs. C* makes delicious EVERYTHING and does a lot of the cooking for whenever we have meetings, training, etc. But it's mostly unhealthy stuff. Not her fault, she is given a certain budget and set of parameters to work within. So say C* makes cookies for a meeting. We are the inpatient unit, so all the leftovers from every single meeting come to our floor for the staff who couldn't attend due to patient load. Nice gesture! So, I could eat a cookie or 15, but if I do - that's my treat day! So I could have eaten healthy all day, planned a treat day for sometime in the near future (usually based around special occasions)... but my philosophy is - that cookie makes treat day start. If I eat this, that's a minimum 7 days I need to wait again.

It works for me!!! It's actually really interesting. Immediately after a treat day (ie: hangover/recovery day!) I don't even want to think about bad food. Day 5-6 I start thinking it might be okay (but I don't get real cravings/triggers anymore WOO!!). But this is the kicker - starting around day 4, if someone talks about or eats an "off-limits" food around me. It's like alarms go off and I'm like "THAT'S WHAT I'M EATING NEXT TREAT DAY!" Kind of like a delayed trigger. For instance, one of my colleagues said he had never had a donair (for those of you who have never had one, they are probably 90% fat. For those that have - you know what I'm talking about!!!). This was I think 5 days before my next planned day. He said the word donair, my head whipped around, pretty sure my eyes glazed over and drool hit my sweater. So my next treat day I had a donair. And because I delayed the satisfaction - no instant gratification to cravings anymore!! - that was the best donair I had eaten in my entire life.

Okay - so my edited stipulations now - these are going to ALWAYS be subject to change - reevaluated!

1) Never ever a reward, scheduled ahead of time. This stays.
2) Healthy breakfast and exercise before treat day "starts". This stays.
3) Unlimited quantity and lack-of-quality. The change - Limit the quantity, adapt the quality as the day progresses.
4) Every 7-10 days. From today forward - MINIMUM 10 DAY BREAKS!

Alright, that was a doozy. Please share about your "treat day" style. Do you at all? Or do you make room daily for a smaller treat?

Laugh, love, eat and be merry!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My biggest "cheat", although I don't really think of it that way, is rice noodles. I absolutely love Vietnamese Pho soup. I think I might eat it everyday until it made me sick.

    I eat it about twice a month. Sometimes planned in advance, sometimes spontaneous. I am able to limit it to those times.

    If it was something like chocolate cake, I am not sure i would be able to limit it and not crave, so I stay away completely.

    On another note, I appreciate your comparison to rewarding ourselves with food as similar to treats we might give to our dogs. I wonder why we would do that with/to our dogs. Rewarding with food has the same psychological implications for dogs as it does for humans.
    2262 days ago
    That's a really good point - I did notice yesterday when I was eating a brownie... I was about 1/4 the way through and was like "This isn't that great. Not worth it!" So I handed it off to hubby, who had two bits and then tossed it in the trash! So that was a big plus for me!
    2262 days ago
    Well, that was interesting. When I was your age I pretty much ate whatever whenever. I weighed 117-120 lbs at 5'8" so didn't worry about it much. The fat didn't start accumulating until my 30's. So, I think you've got a head start here, figuring it all out for yourself in your 20's. I bet you're going to find that those cheat days will become less and less extreme for you as you settle into your healthy weight.

    My 'cheat' would be something like deciding to have a really nice dessert if we went out for dinner. If I'm going to cheat it has to be super high quality or I won't feel like I got enough bang for my buck and I'll end up wanting more. My aim is to cheat with something SO amazingly good that it satisfies the desire for something special.
    2262 days ago
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