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The Importance of Having One Cheat Day When Dieting

Nov 9, 2010

Many dieters think that having a cheat day amounts to failure, so they either struggle to avoid the temptation altogether or they feel incredibly guilty after they cheat on their diet and engage in some behaviors that are more damaging to their diet in the long run. While it's true that taking time off from your diet can cause some problems, there are some very important reasons to approach "cheating" that can aid in your physical and mental health.

Understanding the Cheat Day

It's important that you understand that despite the name of the term, you shouldn't spend an entire day once a week eating whatever you please. Instead, you should designate one day (usually the weekend, when you're more likely to be out and about) during which you will cheat on your diet one time. This can include the main course of a meal or the addition of a dessert--but probably shouldn't include both, unless the dessert is a healthy one. That means if pizza, hamburgers, bread, cake, cookies, ice cream or anything else has been banned from your diet, you can have one of them at one meal or snack time on the same day each week.

Less Likely to Cheat Uncontrollably

When you plan a cheat day on your diet once a week, you can look forward to rewarding yourself for your hard work. Every time you feel the temptation throughout the week to stray off of your diet, you'll be able to remind yourself that you will have that treat on your cheat day and you'll find the temptation less strong than if you'd told yourself you can never touch that unhealthy food again.

If you don't have any cheat day to look forward to, you can be in danger of binge eating. You could find yourself reaching for "just one" unhealthy snack and wind up spending days overeating and eating unhealthy food that's not on your diet. After you're done binging, you'll feel guilty and you may attempt unhealthy behaviors, such as starving yourself or crash dieting, both of which can be harmful to your health and fitness plan.

Increases Your Motivation to Stick to a Healthy Lifestyle

Knowing that you can still enjoy one of the unhealthy foods you love at some point each week will make the fact that you're on a diet less of a punishment or a chore and more about living a new, healthy lifestyle that can still be fun. Getting depressed or lacking motivation to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan can cause you to stray off of your healthy lifestyle regimen. Even just taking one week off of your diet and exercise routine can undo a month's worth of work to lose weight and build endurance in your body. Rewarding yourself and not being so hard on yourself can help give you the focus and determination you need to succeed during the rest of the week.

 

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