What? Did you just read that title right? Am I going to tell you to take a cheat day? I can hear you thinking now, “I can’t cheat on my diet, that’s just wrong.”
Well, I would have to agree with you if this was a diet, but it’s not … it’s a lifestyle. Let’s face facts. We all know that no matter how hard we try, at some point we are going to screw it up, either purposely or accidentally. It’s inevitable, so why not plan for it. Take the guilt out of the equation and allow yourself a treat when you’ve been really good. Sounds insane right? Sure it does, but it’s not. I know I keep saying this but low carb eating is a lifestyle, not a diet. And with any lifestyle, there are times when you have a special occasion coming up, or you’ve been exceptionally good, and want to treat yourself. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you do it correctly, so you don’t set yourself up for failure. By following just a few simple guidelines, some hard limits you might say, you can allow yourself a guilt-free cheat day. Like I always say, life is short…live it to the fullest.
Before for we start talking about the cheat day guidelines, I want you to be honest with yourself and decide if a cheat day is for you or not. Everyone can have them; it’s just some people allow themselves a cheat day and never get back to their low-carb ways. If you have trouble staying with the low carb lifestyle, a cheat day may not be for you. We have a person in our FC Low Carb group named Trixie. She is aware that she’s an all or nothing type of personality. She knows that if she cheats, she’ll never get back on track. If you are that type of person, then a cheat day is not for you. What I suggest instead, is to have a few extra carbs once a month. Maybe something sugar-free that you wouldn’t normally eat as a treat. That way you still get to celebrate, but don’t ruin the great progress you’ve already made.
Also, you should know there are a few downsides to having a cheat day. The biggest one being the sickness you will feel the day after your cheat day. Your body is not used to the carbohydrate loaded foods anymore, and it will let you know how unhappy it is. Some people feel like they have the flu, others (like myself) feel like they went out dancing all night, didn’t sleep at all and drank several bottles of vodka. It’s not a good thing, so you have to decide if it’s worth it to you.
One more thing to keep in mind following your cheat day is that all the carb cravings you no longer have will come back. To most people, this is one of the biggest drawbacks with indulging in a cheat day. You have to realize straight away that once your cheat day is over, your sugar and carbohydrate cravings will come back to you with a vengeance. It’s tough, I’m not going to lie, but it’s usually only bad the first two or three days, then they go away again. It also may take several days to get back on track with feeling energetic again. So ask yourself honestly if a cheat day is worth it to you. Are you willing to go through that all over again? It’s up to you to decide if you can have your cake and eat it too.
Okay, let’s get to the Cheat Day guidelines. The list is short but to be successful, you should follow them completely.
- Allow yourself a cheat day ONLY after THIRTY consecutive days or more of eating low carb successfully. Not ten days, not twenty-five days but thirty days or more.
- A cheat day is ONE day only. Pick a day that you want to designate as your cheat day. Plan for it put it on your calendar, look forward to it, and be ready for it. It’s just one day, not two or three…just one. When your day ends, it’s over, and you go back to your normal lifestyle.
- Weigh in the morning of your cheat day. Why weigh in you ask? You need a starting point. Weigh in when you get up before you eat or drink anything. Then you are not going to weigh in again for a full week, no exceptions. There is no weighing in the next day, or even two days later – stay off the scale! The following week when you weigh in, you’ll notice you still lost a bit and enjoyed your cheat day. If you’ve been plateauing, you might even notice you start losing again after your cheat day, but you are not to weigh in for a FULL week.
- NO FOOD COMES HOME. This is the biggie, the one that will screw you up completely if you don’t follow it, and I can’t stress this enough. No cheat day items are allowed to follow you into your house. This isn’t a free-for-all binge day; this is a cheat day. So keep it in check. All meals and snacks you eat have to be done outside of your house. Go to a restaurant; friend’s home … anywhere but your home. You are going to fill up quickly, and you don’t want ANY leftovers in the fridge calling to you the next day. Also, eating out gives you portion control, helps you not overdue, unlike if you were making it at home. So keep it out of the house!
- Enjoy yourself. You have made an educated decision to take a cheat day. This is a guilt-free zone. Eat what you want that one day, enjoy it and when the day ends … it’s over. The next day all is as it should be, and you can continue on your low carb journey.
A cheat day can be a lot of fun. You have earned it, but you have, to be honest with yourself. If you can’t follow these five guidelines, then DON’T do a cheat day. You don’t want to sabotage yourself. Some people can handle it; some people can’t. You know who you are. Be true to you, having a cheat day isn’t a necessity, it’s an option. So weigh the pros and cons and do what is best for you. I found when I was losing that a cheat day helped me every so often, and I lost over a hundred pounds. If you follow the guidelines, you can do it. Good luck!