Today is my 1st ever cheat day. Do any of you incorporate a cheat day into your weight loss plans? I am on a diet I have never tried before and although it's working really well for me in the short time of 9 days I've been on it, it recommends a cheat day once a week, and I've never been on a diet that had a cheat day before. If ever I cheated, I always felt guilty, which put me in danger of just jumping off the wagon. I love the concept of allowing myself a day to eat freely with no guilt. Knowing I had a cheat day has helped me to avoid pumpkin doughnuts (a favorite in my household) all week. Of course, the first thing I did this morning was grab a pumpkin doughnut and wow, was it sweet! I don't think I'll have any problem not having another one, although since it's cheat day, if I wanted to, I could! Supposedly, the recommendation for a cheat day is two-fold: 1) It helps you mentally/emotionally not to fall off the wagon because you know you don't have to completely cut out certain favorite foods. All you have to do is wait till cheat day to have them, and that's very do-able; 2) It keeps your body from thinking you're starving thereby stalling your metabolism. From what I've read, although you may gain a lb or two immediately after a cheat day, in the long run, your weight loss is steady and constant. I guess if I'll find out if that's true! So has anyone else tried a cheat day and how has it worked for you? Did you go on an all-out pig-out? Did you eat your favorite "forbidden" foods in moderation? Did it cause you to stick to the plan longer or to fall off the plan in a sort of sabotage of your diet? It seems to me planning for a cheat day with no guilt would be great to have for holidays and special occasions. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Jacqui D. Great question about cheat days! Here's my take on the cheat day:
1. Instead of a cheat day, I prefer a cheat meal. If I do an entire day of cheating, I tend to continue to cheat for days and days. It usually takes me a month or so to get back on track.
2. Once I've trained myself to get off the heavy salts, sugars, and fats, eating those foods simply aren't satisfying anymore. I feel heavy, bloated, and bogged down. Kinda like you mentioned how your pumpkin doughnut tasted super sweet - you could certainly eat another one if you wanted to, but are you really craving a second doughnut?
3. Dieting and making healthier choices take a lot of mental energy. For me, "cheating" means that I'm feeling out of sorts - anxious, depressed, dehydrated (this is a new and important 'feeling') - and my food choice will direct my mood for the rest of the afternoon/evening. I've found that I don't need to eat (or cheat) if I'm feeling out of sorts, and usually a big glass of water will get me back on track.
So there's my two cents on cheat days. I would use it as more of a day to say "If I really want a second helping, this is the day to do it." But, if you're not hungry because your body has adjusted to smaller portions, then don't stuff yourself for no reason.
Thank you Coffeeshopgirl. The cheat meal does sound like a good option if I find the cheat day sabotages my appetite or if I find I just don't have a need for a whole cheat day. And no, I wasn't interested in a second pumpkin doughnut today, lol. Nor did I crave anything else or want to overeat. Now that no food is completely forbidden, maybe I have found a way to disconnect from my emotional attachment to it. I hope so!
That's the hardest part. And sometimes, we fall off the wagon (I know I have). It's so tough to change our emotional attachment to food, and it's an ongoing process. I hope you're finding out that you feel better when you eat better.
It's tough to stay on track, and if you do fall off the wagon - make sure you pick yourself back up.
Thanks for the encouragement! Oh, I've fallen off the wagon so many times, I'm surprised I haven't broken something by now, lol. I feel great today though. And I do indeed feel better when I eat well, but I am really kind of shocked that I did not feel an urgency to stuff myself with forbidden foods today. I think I just might have found the weight loss program that will work for me long-term. Yay!
I am finding I can't even consider changing my diet without incorporating a cheat day. Otherwise I just think of food all the time, trying to figure out how to "trick" myself into thinking I am eating something decadent. If I know I have the option to have something decadent once a week, I can focus on "tasty enough" meals, eat and be done with it until my next meal. I actually enjoy healthy foods... it's mostly a condiment and portion control issue! Trying to fool myself into thinking I'm having a treat with diet products has always backfired for me.
For me, a cheat is a meal that includes foods that I don't normally eat, but in small portions so that I don't feel bad afterwards. I do this for holidays or special occasions, which are rare - but they do happen. I'm so used to eating a different way now that I don't enjoy those types of food anymore. I live on mostly vegetables which I love, and I don't crave the foods that I used to live on before. However, I am aware that my tastes could revert if I'm not careful.
I think that if I had a cheat every week, that it might make old habits or cravings resurface. A small part of my old self would see it as 'okay', and that scares me. I would much rather love my spinach and not crave junk, so I'm happy as I am. I'll save the cheats for special occasions. However, a lot of people are able to pull it off. I guess you have to examine your relationship with food and find out if it's something that will help or hurt your efforts.
So far, cheat day is working very well for me, but I have to admit, I am so surprised that I don't go crazy on it, but I don't. I eat whatever I want, and it's no big deal. I don't overeat, although I could if I chose to (it's allowed), and I have no trouble going right back to a non-cheat day the following day. It's pretty amazing to me that I'm having this healthy of a relationship with food. It's still new though. I'm thrilled now, but if I find in the long run I start slipping up, I may have to move to the cheat meal idea.