Growing up as a young woman, I did as many women do, which is over analyze everything about my diet and my looks. I worked out too hard some days to the point of exhaustion and then felt that I had earned the right to have a massive “cheat day” filled with all the foods I swore off during the week. Somehow, I thought that everything would balance each other out and the “healthy” eating I was doing most days outweighed the bag of chips and chocolate and pizza I would eat later. Funnily enough though, nutrition and life don’t work like that. Find out why the term cheat days is a myth…
Now, I definitely don’t have a problem with indulging and having pizza, chocolate or chips if that is what you want. The problem is using the term “cheat day” as a cover to rationalize your choices.
What does cheat even mean? If we look up the word in the dictionary (or on google) we can see that it means the following: (to) “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage.” So when we say cheat day, who are we cheating? Are we acting dishonestly with ourselves or our food choices and how is this giving us any advantage? I am not sure we are getting a nutritional advantage when we cheat ourselves into thinking we need to rationalize our eating choice in order to make ourselves feel better.
In the end, I think that is what we are doing, trying to use the term to make ourselves feel better for our choices that we deem as “unhealthy” or “bad.”
All of these thoughts came to me when I was listening to Robb Wolf on The Ultimate Health Podcast (one of my fave podcasts) and I just kept nodding my head along to what he was saying and wanted to share my views and thoughts with all of you.
Ok so here is the thing with being a nutritionist and a foodie… I never want to feel deprived and as if I can’t have a certain food. Food restriction didn’t work so well for me in the past and it doesn’t work for a lot of others either, because who wants to feel like they can’t do or have something… no one. Your diet (the foods you eat, not an actual diet) should be the result of wanting to eat foods that make you feel good. Sometimes that is a green smoothie, other times its a cookie or pizza. I’ll never forget when I was in nutrition school and one of my nutrition friends gave me a look when I shared that I had pizza (the gluten containing kind, aka- the best kind) on the weekend. As if I had committed some kind of sacrilegious act worthy of such disdain?! It’s effin’ pizza, not like I committed an actual terrible act, like I robbed a pizza place or something! That look made me realize I never want to be that nutritionist, you know the one that acts holier than though about everything. Truthfully, I don’t think this is what normal people want either, why would they want to be judged for what they eat, or anything else for that matter?
It was this delicious pizza by the way, all the drools…
Back to my point, the foods you eat should make you feel good. They should also be a source of joy and fulfillment too. Another point made in this podcast by Robb was that he would never want people to make their dietary choices dependent on willpower. What kind of life would that be? One that leads to the term and the act of having a cheat day… because you feel guilty for not having the willpower to “eat clean” and so in a sense this cheat day represents something deeper. The terms willpower and “clean eating” are a whole other blog post…
Eat to feel good, eat to thrive and eat foods because it brings you joy. Don’t save it all for one massive cheat day where you binge and eat everything under the sun. This doesn’t serve you one bit and most likely you will end up with a tummy ache.
Your cheat days represent that you don’t feel fulfilled with your diet/food choices, hence why you feel the need to cheat on it in the first place. But really, the only thing you are cheating on is yourself in the long run.
If you want to end the diet cycle once and for all and learn about the power of whole foods and real nutrition and how this can benefit you, then please get in touch with me to discuss this. I have a new program that is going to be launching soon that will address all of this and so much more. Also, have a look at my new 21 Day Spring Reboot which is a detox that is meant to nourish you with only the best whole foods out there, no deprivation of any kind and snack ideas are provided of course!
What do you think of the term “cheat days”, do you use it to justify your cravings and what you are eating? Let me know!