A friend asked me to create a weight loss meal plan for her recently. I proceeded to do so and once she reviewed the plan for the first time, virtually the first questions she had was, “Cheat Days?”. The plan notably contained none.
Tempering my answer, I simply stated that if she took cheat days, she will simply slow her progress, provided of course she does not cheat to the level that it sabotages all her efforts completely. When she cheats also best to return to the plan as soon as possible. All of which is true.
Nonetheless, I have to admit how frustrating this is to me personally. Most of the diets and fads and weight loss approaches include cheat days (or meals) as part of their programs. It has been so ingrained in our way of thinking that it has become an inherent expectation.
To make things worse, these often become a supposed reward for our apparent success in the preceding week. So you reward yourself with something, not constructive or helpful, for doing something that is?
It just seems so counter intuitive and it creates a cycle of failure. We end up rewarding ourselves in destructive ways so often that this becomes a pattern of behaviour which is excruciatingly difficult to break.
Realising how hard it is to stick to a clean diet, and never eat anything bad (and doing it nonetheless), I would say this :
- Please do not reward your success with destructive rewards.
- There are ways to deal with the cravings that work and will not destroy your efforts or slow you down.
- It will probably take some time for you to get used to the whole process, but if you are really committed, this will prove easier than it seems. And it does get easier guaranteed.
Happy, healthy, for a long time….