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A Cheat Day?

Is having a cheat day once a week a good idea when you are losing weight?

I’ve seen several articles and diets, including “Body for Life”, advocate for maintaining a strict diet 6 days a week and having a “free day” once a week. I can see the benefits of having a free (or cheat) day. If you have one day a week where you can eat your favorite forbidden foods, then you will not feel deprived and have an easier time staying on track for the rest of the week.  I’ve also read research that shows increasing your caloric intake one day a week will actually help keep your metabolism at a higher level.

On the flip-side, I think I could probably do a lot of damage if I allowed myself a “cheat” day.  Because here is what my day would look like:

  • For breakfast, I would have blueberry pancakes with butter, maple syrup, and orange juice.  Carbs and sugar… YUM!!
  • For lunch, I would likely want to go out to eat at Mandola’s, one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. I would have a salad, a couple pieces of bread, some pizza, and gelato of course. And since it IS my “cheat” day, I would have a MEDIUM gelato instead of a SMALL one.  I would choose a combination of chocolate and strawberry gelato, and I would cross my fingers that the person serving the gelato would put a huge, overflowing mound of it in the container.
  • For dinner, I would go out to eat again. Hmm… I guess this really isn’t supposed to be a “cheat” day for my wallet, is it?  Oh well.  On my fictitious cheat day, I would go to Roy’s for dinner, where they serve edamame instead of bread before dinner.  That is actually quite healthy, isn’t it?  Then I would have some sushi, followed by some kind of lumpia egg roll appetizer, a yummy fish entree, and then finally a chocolate souffle.  And I wouldn’t share that souffle with my husband… No, I would make him get his own! And the nice part about not sharing is that we could actually have a conversation during dessert, instead of frantically eating as quickly as possible in order to maximize the amount of souffle we each get.  Come to think of it, by NOT sharing, we would also NOT burn our mouths on hot souffle and wouldn’t have to worry about getting stabbed with each others’ forks.  This probably sounds a little extreme, but if you try Roy’s chocolate souffle, you would completely understand why getting your half (AND NO LESS) is so important.
  • Later on after dinner, I would sit down with a bag of gummy bears and eat them while watching TV.  And I wouldn’t get the little 140 calorie packs.  No, I would get a normal size pack and eat every one of them.  And that would conclude my “cheat” day.

So, if I look back at my planned day of decadence, I’m thinking I would probably eat an additional 3,500 calories that day.  Which happens to equal one pound.  Which would happen to undo everything I worked hard for all week long.  So, perhaps a “cheat” day is not the best idea for ME.  Maybe a cheat MEAL vs. a cheat DAY would be a better bet.

I usually go out to eat once a week, because I like to splurge when I eat out.  I like to order a salad and a dessert with my meal, and want to get what sounds yummiest on the menu (vs. healthiest).  So, in order to maintain my weight, I can really only afford to splurge like that for one meal a week.  Having a whole day to splurge would be too dangerous for me, since I don’t have a lot of self control.  However, I can see it possibly working for others who wouldn’t go as crazy as I would with their “cheat” day.

What do you think about having a “cheat” day once a week?  Feel free to comment!

One Comment

  1. Mindy Booknis

    Hmmm…. I bet this answer is different for everyone. I know that I have sort of let myself have “cheat days”. Usually, that was the day of our meetings (after the meeting of course when I had already weighed in 🙂 When I was in the “zone” with excercise and diet, this worked great. BUT…lately….not so good. When I am out of the zone and having a hard time with portion control, I have found that having this cheat day turned into a couple of days, and then a bad week of eating. I think I might switch to a reward system where I get ONE treat and that’s it.

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