Everybody loves the idea of a cheat day — what fun would a diet be if you don’t have the chance to put yourself at risk of cardiac arrest every Saturday (quadruple bypass burger anyone?) While they may help you stick to your diet during the week, they also may be ruining your progress. The solution? Change how you think of them.
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As sound as the research behind it may be, I often see dieters undo an entire week’s progress by using them the wrong way. Sure, it’s what you do most of the time that counts, but if what you do in that minority is enough to sustain you through winter, you’re just going to end up undoing your work. As fitness coach and registered kinesiologist Kia Khadem puts it:
Well after I started tracking my cheat days I realised that the excess calories from Saturdays alone were offsetting all the hard work and discipline I had put in through the week, and then some. Mainly because I was restricting what I was allowed and not allowed to eat throughout the week to keep my carbohydrates low, or eat “clean” I would end up going on a binge that would feed an entire NHL team for a week.
So if the scale isn’t budging (and you suspect the dozen doughnuts you ate last Saturday may have played a role) try this: reframe cheat meals as reward meals. The simple swap can be enough to let you enjoy a well-deserved break, without feeding a compulsion to overstuff yourself. That way, you can have your metaphorical and literal cake and eat it too.