Why I hate ‘cheat days’

I am not a fan of ‘cheat days’, ‘cheat meals’ or anything with the word cheat in it. I do not like the attitude that such an idea supports. If you are making changes to your diet for whatever reason (usually health or weight loss), then what purpose can any cheating provide?

Cheating suggests that the plan is less than desirable and ‘cheats’ that contradict the plan are worthy rewards. That is completely opposite to what your goal is. Taking an entire day to undo all the positive changes of your week is the worst idea I have ever heard. Cheat meals are also a bad idea but in a smaller package. With this attitude you forever set yourself up for failure. You have set the tone that your ‘positive’ changes for healthy eating are somehow bad and ‘cheating’ or eating items you know sabotage your goals are rewards and should be valued. What is the point of your goal if you make plans to undermine it?

Now I am not saying you can never indulge in items that are not on your ‘healthy only’ list of foods. I am saying that you need to treat your changes with the seriousness it deserves. It’s a worthy plan or goal and you need to give it the respect and proper attitude necessary for success. I prefer that people look at their diet as an 80/20 plan. Eighty percent of all foods will be in your ideal plan. For some that is all plant based, for others, no processed foods or fast food. Others, maybe its following a paleo diet or vegan diet. So 80% of the time the diet is dead on, then the other 20% is for your food choices that are not typically in the diet you chose.

An 80/20 rule allows for life. If you know that you have dinner plans with friends or a big work lunch, wrap up the week with all meals on point. Then that meal with friends or co-workers can endure your slips due to options available. Also, don’t allow that situation to be a ticket to go hog-wild (pun intended). If you gave up soda, then don’t use dining out as a chance to splurge. If you gave up meat and dairy, then pizza night needs to be at a location that serves other dishes so you can make another food choice. If you chose Paleo as your path to fitness, then you know that when ordering your sandwich or burger, tell them to leave the bread behind. When you chose to consume something that is not in your plan, keep them to a minimum as they will fall in your 20%. You are making a lifestyle change at your own doing for your own good. Honor it.

Take ‘cheats’ out of your vocabulary and out of your diet. Cheating doesn’t work in marriages, taxes, or when taking tests, so why would this work in health, wellness or diets?