Sometimes the way we frame behaviors can make all the difference. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the pros and cons of taking time off from a diet plan (while losing weight), for the sake of recharging your mind and your motivation. In that post, I pointed out that, if you feel confident and strong in your ability to hop back on the ol’ wagon after the days off, a diet break may actually help you lose weight. Today, I’d love to talk about something along the same lines: cheat days.
First, a definition: I define a cheat day as a single day when you allow yourself to eat any food, in any quantity you desire. They are meant to give you a break from the stress and perceived monotony of dieting. In my post about diet breaks, I discussed the occasional few days I’d take off to eat normally while I was losing weight. Often, these days were ones that involved a vacation with friends, a holiday, or something like that. I didn’t, however, call any of those days “cheat days.” They were just days when I ate a little richer or more indulgently. For me, the term “cheating” always seemed to make me feel like I was doing something wrong, and heck, if I was already doing something wrong, might as well do it all the way wrong, right?
It may just be semantics, but these are important distinctions to make. The way I got to 268 pounds was by eating recklessly and destructively, so when I embarked on a path to lose that weight, cheating meant a return to recklessness. It meant more than a simple slip. I knew from experience how impossible it felt to pull myself out of the tail spin of binge eating.
Nowadays, I stay away from black and white thinking. Cheating, bingeing, restricting- they’re all so severe. None exists without the other. What I aim for is an overall, everyday contentment with what I’m eating. If that means a small daily dessert, so be it. Everyday is a holiday :)
It’s important to note here that my struggle is not everyone’s struggle. Some of us believe in cheat days, and maybe they serve us well. I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the concept of cheat days? Have you been able to successfully incorporate them into your life?
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