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Cheat days: how do you deal with them?

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Nowadays we often see the terms ‘cheat meal’ and ‘cheat day’. Personally I’m not a fan of these terms, but I do believe in the idea behind them. The question is: what is a responsible cheat meal and how do you deal with them?

What is a cheat meal?

A cheat meal is a meal with which you treat yourself with something unhealthy. You basically ‘cheat’ on your healthy lifestyle. This can be a day (cheat day) or part of a day (cheat meal). You surrender to your cravings and you can see it as a reward or a break from your steady routine. Some people have a cheat meal once in a while, while others have a cheat meal on a set day, like Sundays. Of course this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to eat healthy and work out the rest of the week.

Personally I’m having some difficulties with the terms cheat day and cheat meal. The problem is: how do you define a cheat meal and what are your boundaries? I think that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of things and that it’s important to have a healthy balance in your lifestyle. You have to figure out what works for you, because every body is different and what works for someone else might not work for you. That doesn’t mean we should now all go eat chocolate and cookies, but you should have fun in what you eat and it shouldn’t be a constant battle between what you want and what you can have. Naturally, it’s important to keep up a healthy eating pattern and get enough exercise, but that doesn’t mean that when a friend asks me on a hot summer day if I want an ice cream, I say “no, because today isn’t my cheat day”. If I eat a bit unhealthier one day, I try to compensate this the next day with more healthy food. I don’t have a specific day that I go completely bananas or that I eat a piece of chocolate pie on that day which I’m looking forward to all week. That simply doesn’t make me happy. That kind of pressure makes me emotional and tensed.

Of course that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for others. A cheat meal or cheat day cán be a good way to get yourself to follow certain guidelines or it enables some people to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Think hard about the way you define a cheat meal or cheat day. Make sure you don’t completely live towards the moment you can go nuts and unneccesarily overeat. This way you can start feeling guilty and have the feeling that eating healthy all week and working out have been for nothing.

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  1. Makki K

    Hello Vladana,

    I may not be a fitgirl, I hope you don’t mind me commenting :-D. I personally feel that cheat meals are an important part of my psychological motivation. I end up looking forward to it and have that forward moving momentum (it’s not my only motivation mind, it’s one of many) but it keeps my going and I think of it when I have to expend some willpower resisting a meal. From my research I have found a structured “refeed” (much better word) will help keep me at bay for longer period of time and away from those that aren’t structured. There are also physiological benefits of cheats/refeeds. They boost the hunger hormone Leptin, Throid hormones (T3 & T4). I wrote an article about cheating that I would love for you to have a look and let me know what you think in the comments. The link is: http://www.fitnessalmanac.com/15-strategies-to-maximise-the-benefit-joy-from-cheat-meals/

    Kind regards
    Makki