So I’ve always known days or meals where you indulge in foods that aren’t necessarily healthy as cheat days or cheat meals.
But recently there has been a lot of talk about whether or not “cheat” is really the proper word to describe the meal or day.
CHEAT implies that you are doing something wrong…something bad…something breaking from what you shouldn’t be doing.
There can be a negative connotation to calling a day or meal a “CHEAT.”
So I’ve heard some people call it a TREAT meal instead.
But personally, TREAT almost bothers me even more. You aren’t a dog…You don’t need a treat for eating well. Eating well is what you should be doing.
Both can really imply, in a way, that eating well isn’t really all that fun, tasty or enjoyable.
Which honestly really isn’t the case.
Healthy food can be delicious. And it not only makes you feel good but helps your body and mind truly run well.
BUT as good as healthy food is and as great as you really do feel when you eat well…there are just times you want to indulge even if that means your belly is going to grumble a bit the next day.
Like for me, a vacation isn’t a vacation if I’m worried about finding something healthy on the menu – If I’m more worried about eating well than on trying new things.
Cheat days, treat days, whatever you call them, are about more than eating bad food. They aren’t even about indulging in things you are “deprived off” otherwise.
They are more about a mental release and enjoying something in life that you don’t necessarily get to do every day.
Maybe a more apt description of cheat days is VACATION.
I mean think about it…Why do you take vacation?
Because you need a break. You need a break from routine. A break from exercising self-control day in and day out. Because you need both a mental and physical rest.
A VACATION is a chance to recharge!
For me…a “cheat day” is exactly that…a chance to re-charge.
It is a mini vacation from self-control and it can mean a ton of different things.
It isn’t always about eating food that is bad for me. I mean sometimes it is…Sometimes it is indulging in those nachos because they just take so good and I really really love food. Sometimes it is getting to try new foods when I’m on vacation and really let go.
But most importantly it is about relaxing and enjoying be it nachos or simply a glass of wine. It is about enjoying something and taking a mini vacation from the normal routine.
It is about “cheating” for the sake of cheating. It isn’t about eating something bad just because it is there or because I’ve had a bad day or because someone else pressures me.
It is about doing something, eating something, that I enjoy because I WANT it.
A big part of making a healthy diet into a lifestyle is about also realizing that you don’t have to be perfect all the time.
You need vacations from work…from family…from daily life…
So why wouldn’t you need a vacation from eating well or working out every once in a while?
We need chances to recharge and indulge be it a glass of wine and dark chocolate, a piece of bread with butter or a whole pizza and pint of ice cream. Shoot maybe it isn’t even eating something unhealthy…Sometimes it is just about telling yourself that you can do WHATEVER that day IF you end up really craving something.
Sometimes you just need a break from your daily habits because those daily habits do wear down your self-control no matter how ingrained they seemed to be.
So whatever your cheat/treat/indulgence/splurge/break/vacation/(whatever you call the snack, meal or day) is, make sure it is something you are going to enjoy to the fullest without guilt.
Do you include a “cheat” something into your daily, weekly or monthly diet plan? What do you prefer to call that “treat?”
I swear if you looked at top searches over the past week you would find something involving “Thanksgiving” and “diet.”
It seems like half of the United States population decides to freak out about their diet around Thanksgiving…not the 364 other days of the year…but on Thanksgiving…the one day they should, in my opinion, indulge.
And most of the tips that you will find are absolutely ridiculous:
- Drink water so that you feel fuller and don’t eat as much. (That has never ever worked for me..I always still eat as much but just feel way fuller at the end…like I’m going to explode…)
- Use a smaller plate (I’d love to see someone ask their host for a smaller plate…)
- Make sure to eat breakfast (If you’ve ever done IF, you will be better off fasting UNTIL the meal)
- Exercise on Thanksgiving (How about you exercise the other 364 days and take Thanksgiving off. That will probably help you burn more calories in the end than going for a long walk on Thanksgiving)
- Skip the dark meat (UHM HELLO!?! The dark meat is the best part! AND not bad if you eat Primal/Paleo.)
Ok so those tips are totally bogus. People waste a perfectly good holiday meal trying to stick to their diet by following those tips.
And I even tell most of my clients that if they like Thanksgiving food, this is one day they should indulge. I tell them they need to stick to their diet until the day of and go right back on afterwards, but for that one day, that is based around food and family, they can indulge.
I just think there can be too much stress and deprivation involved in trying to stick to a diet on Thanksgiving.
But not everyone agrees with me. And while I don’t believe in dieting on Thanksgiving (I DEFINITELY count it as a cheat meal!), Mark’s Daily Apple does give some good recommendations on how to prepare a Primal Thanksgiving or how to stick to Primal if you’re not cooking.
So if you think a cheat day will derail your progress or make it hard to get back on track, maybe following good (underlining good) tips like the ones on Mark’s Daily Apple will be the way to go.
For me though there is no question about whether or not I’m dieting or indulging. I’m always going to cheat on Thanksgiving. For me, it is absolutely worth it to eat pie, gravy, cranberries cooked with sugar and stuffing (I LOVE STUFFING).
What do you think? Is it worth it to indulge? Or do you stick to your diet?