I love Cheat Days! I love other people’s cheat days too. I love looking at pictures of hot cheesy pizza, big juicy bacon burgers and fries, fresh donuts… I love food. Even if it’s not food I’m eating, I still love it.
This Sunday I said I grabbed fries and ice cream because it was a ‘Cheat Day’ – with the disclaimer that I use that term loosely. So, I wanted to chat about the topic of cheating on your ‘diet’ (whatever that might be).
First let’s establish that ‘diet’ is often used to describe the way someone is eating to lose weight. But it’s also just the way someone eats. Like, my cat lives on a ‘diet’ of Purina, chicken enchiladas and licking the ice cream container when I’m done.
I feel like the OG concept of ‘CHEAT DAYS’ was for those on a strict diet that need to increase carbs and calories to keep the metabolism fire burning. These are peeps that truly avoid sugar, white carbs and alcohol most of the time. So yeah, I get it.
But there are others who are not super strict day to day but rather probably eat healthy 80% of the time. They choose whole grains and lean meats and healthier options in general. They might not eat cookies in the break room most of the time, but enjoy a few chocolate chip on cheat days.
That’s cool too.
There are also people who can eat in moderation all the time and don’t need a cheat day or to go out of their way to indulge. They eat treats when they want, stop when they want and overall have a healthy balance.
That’s hard for me to do sometimes depending on my life, stress, running mileage, other… so sometimes I do cheat days sometimes I don’t. I’ve been practicing Intuitive Eating long enough to realize when I should keep certain foods I love out of the house (trigger foods). Yet, I still want those foods so I 100% guilt free allow them on a cheat day or when I’m feeling at a good place overall and know I can eat in moderation.
I feel like most people that are not fitness competitors use ‘Cheat Day’ to describe a day that they are:
More indulgent with their food choices
Accepting of this freedom (do not feel guilty since it’s a cheat day)
Enjoying the indulgence as being naughty and celebrating it more than just any other meal
I like the concept of cheat day because it gives me and you complete freedom to not worry about an 80/20 balance (or whatever you do) for one day a week or so. If you skip eating greens you might not be worried about it on a cheat day vs. on a normal day you’ll be sure to choose more veggies even if you don’t want them. If you want a donut, you’ll eat a freakin donut without guilt. I dig it.
(This is very very different from binge. And I believe incorporating cheat days regularly into your life can help prevent binging. The key is that they are regular enough that it doesn’t trigger a month long binge. That is an entirely different convo though.)
I also think “Cheat Day” is used in social media because it’s fun.
It’s fun to post a picture of you about to dig into a big slice of pizza or piece of cake with #CheatDay by it. It’s fun to look at those pictures.
A lot of times people enjoy running or exercising because it burns calories and allows them room to enjoy their favorite foods. There’s nothing wrong with that. I love running and eating. It’s okay. It’s a hobby. I could have more noble pursuits, but this is where I am in the world right now and I am happy.
Overall, I think cheat days are fairly harmless and the term is used loosely for most people I follow on social media. It won’t make or break your diet as long as it’s balanced. You can have choose to have a piece of pizza a few times a week or have a few slices on a Friday night. Do you Boo.