Why Cheat Days Are Actually Good for You

The digital era has caused an explosion in healthy eating habit, calorie counting, and increased fitness awareness. It’s not uncommon to find people logging their food intake and exercise habits with some form of app or activity tracker. Films like Supersize Me and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead drive home the destructive nature of most fast food diets. However, adhering to a strict food and exercise system can have detrimental effects on your will to continue over the long run. Here are a few reasons why you should loosen up and indulge sometimes.

Positive Reinforcement

Having that one day every week or every other week can provide you with enough motivation to reach caloric goals the majority of the time. Otherwise, your diet can start looking like a punishment really fast, a punishment without an end. Break the monotony by allowing yourself a cheat day. Ultimately, this can be a healthier strategy than having cheat meals multiple times per week, since you’ll only need to recover from that single day of junk food.

Don’t Set Ultimatums

You can’t approach dieting with a black or white perspective where you either succeed or you don’t. There will definitely be days when you make unhealthy eating options due to convenience or cravings. However, this is the moment when people will usually quit a diet. They’ll see this single point of failure as a reason to stop the diet altogether. Just remember – you can always jump back on track at any point. Just because you flubbed during breakfast doesn’t mean that you have to stop your diet for the rest of the day or week.

Make Compromises

So maybe you’re planning to go wild and order pizza for dinner this Friday. You might consider giving something else up instead, like a food item that is less important than the pizza. For example, if you were planning on having a few drinks after pizza, consider skipping the alcohol. This way, you get to indulge in junk food, but you’re also making slight adjustments so that you don’t take in too many calories. Mini negotiations like this are crucial to maintaining a diet.

Don’t beat yourself up too much while sticking to a diet. Before making major health and lifestyle change, be sure to check in with a healthcare professional. Cheat days can give you something to look forward to every week, decreasing your likelihood of quitting out of frustration. Make sure that your diet is balanced overall, so that you receive all of the necessary nutrients. Happy dieting!

Anna Johansson
Anna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn't writing, she is outside on her bike and comtemplating her eventual trip to graduate school.

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