dessert chocolates

One thing that has helped me a great deal in my ongoing quest for losing weight and keeping it off, is integrating “cheat days” into my diet. I will have one cheat day per week, usually on a Friday (I call it fat Friday in the office) where I can basically eat and drink anything I like. This might sound crazy to some of you, but it helps me a great deal on a long-term plan, as it helps make my diet more of a lifestyle plan that is sustainable. Now obviously, if you’re training for a particular event or goal then this might not be for you, but let me explain why this works so well for me, and see if there are any parallels with how your diets have gone in the past.

It helps me to avoid binges
When I first start a new plan, I’m normally pretty motivated and find it easy to eat the right foods. As I get further into the plan, I start to crave sweet things and junk. Knowing that I can “never” have these things, makes it harder for me to resist them and at some point I end up cracking, which normally results in almighty binge or lot’s of little cheats that end up blowing the diet!

The difference between never and not now
Knowing that I can have these foods on a Friday, makes them less tempting and makes it easier for me to resist just by simply knowing that I “can” have these things on that day. Normally when Friday comes I end up not having them anyway because the cravings have passed.

I don’t feel guilty or left out at social occassions
If I know that I’m going to have a night out on say a Saturday, I will change my “cheat day” to this day so I don’t feel guilty about drinking or eating i.e. pizza on this day. It also means that I don’t feel left out eating a grilled chicken salad and drinking water while everyone else has pizza and beer. Constantly feeling like this will make me more likely to stop my diet plan altogether.

It’s only one day per week
A cheat day is just one day per week, so 6 days out of 7 I’m eating what I should so I’m still getting great results. It makes me motivated to get straight back on the wagon as of Saturday morning to help burn off any excess that I had on the fat Friday. Additionally, I’m not going crazy with food on Friday and consuming 1000′s of extra calories. I normally start the day off well, and the “bad foods” tend to come in at lunch time or the evening in the form of convenience food, a dinner out, alcohol, sweets etc. I’m not spending the entire day gorging on cakes and drinking fizzy drinks.

It makes the diet more enjoyable
I like being healthy and eating well, but sometimes diets can be quite arduous. Having a cheat day where I can eat a Krispy Kreme Donut (I know, they’re the devil!) if I want, really helps to make it more enjoyable, and keeps me motivated.

So if you have trouble sticking to your diet (or you have a sweet tooth like me!) consider integrating “cheat days” into your plan and see if it helps to make it more sustainable and ultimately more enjoyable. If you use cheat days yourself as part of your strategy for sticking to a diet, then let us know and leave a comment below.