There are increasing numbers of people who are now following diet plans in their everyday lives, whether in an attempt to lose weight or simply to make sure they are eating healthy. However, sticking to a diet can be extremely difficult and there are many temptations and cravings that attempt to lead the dieter astray. In an effort to satisfy these cravings and keep themselves on track the rest of the time, many dieters are now incorporating “cheat days” into their diet plans.
What are Cheat Days?
Cheat days are days when you do not follow your diet and you can indulge in foods that would normally not be allowed under the diet plan you are following. The frequency of cheat days all depends on the person and the diet – some people have cheat days once a week, while others once every other week and some only allowing cheat days once a month. Are these cheat days a good idea for dieters or do cheat days counteract all of the effort dieters have put in the rest of the time when they have stayed on their diet?
There are basically two sides of the debate when it comes to cheat day – those that think that cheat days help you to stay on track the rest of the time, and those that think that cheat days will lead you further astray from your diet plan. The answer to whether or not dieters should have cheat days is really all dependent on each individual person and how strong their self control is when it comes to their diet and temptations to vary from it.
How do Cheat Days Help Your Diet?
The general idea behind a cheat day is that by allowing yourself to indulge on set days, you will be less likely to stray off of your diet on the rest of the days. Unless you are completely used to eating the way you do when you are on your diet, then there is no doubt that you will occasionally get cravings and be tempted to eat other foods that would not be compliant with your diet plan. Having a cheat day allows you to get these cravings taken care of on a specified day so that it is easier to stay true to your diet the rest of the time. The idea is that if you don’t allow yourself to indulge every so often, then you will be more likely to fail at sticking to your diet. When a craving comes up during the week, you will have more strength against giving in to it because you know that you can eat that food on your cheat day.
In addition, allowing yourself to have cheat days gives you something to look forward to and makes the struggle to stay on your diet plan worth it. Similar to how you get through your work week by looking forward to the weekend, it will be easier to get through the week while staying true to your diet if you have something, like a cheat day, to look forward to. Having a cheat day means that you will be able to fight the cravings and struggle of staying on your diet throughout the week because you know that you will be able to take care of the cravings and give yourself a reward on your cheat day. Like children who are rewarded at the end of the week for completing all their chores, having a cheat day is a reward system for grown ups who are dieting.
Possible Dangers of a Cheat Day
The possible downsides of having a cheat day come around mainly when the person does not have enough self control to limit the cheat day to one day only. Someone who has poor self control when it comes to their food and diet will be more likely to not be able to limit themselves to one cheat day and will be more likely to fail at their diet plan. By having a cheat day they start to realize more of what they are missing, and one cheat day soon leads to multiple and then to completely walking away from their diet plan. For these people, it may be better to stay on a diet all the time and to not even introduce the temptation of a cheat day.
Whether or not a dieter should have a cheat day will be entirely dependent upon that individual person and their ability to limit their cheating to one day. For the most part, cheat days are a great way to reward yourself for staying on track with your diet all week and give you something to look forward to, making it easier to stay on track. However, if you feel like your cheat days are leading to cheat weeks or cheat months, or that you are introducing cheat meals into everyday, then having a cheat day may not be the best idea for you. Look at your own diet and your own ability to control and limit the cheat day to decide whether or not a cheat day is a good idea.