Dieting is hard. It’s as simple as that. You are depriving yourself of the things you love and if you are new to dieting, there is a chance that you could be suffering withdrawals from sugar and processed foods too. If only there was a way to maintain a healthy diet and eat the things you love. Well perhaps there is. Many now argue that having a ‘cheat’ meal or even a whole day can actually help rather than hinder your weight loss goals. What this means in real terms is that whilst you continue your dieting struggles, you can still indulge in your favourite things on a regular basis, albeit once a week rather than once a day! Some go on to argue that not only is a cheat day enjoyable, but it’s also vitally important to the success of your regimen. Carolyn O’Neil, co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous, explains that “sensible splurging is really the key to being able to achieve a healthy lifestyle.” Sounds good right? But is it too good? Can a cheat day really be good for your diet or is it all just wishful thinking?
Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits to a cheat day whilst dieting is a psychological one. It can be tough when you are stuck eating things that perhaps you don’t enjoy whilst seeing everyone else tuck into your favourite foods. The idea of never getting a taste of that delicious treat again can be devastating – and could potentially de-rail even the most determined dieter. So the possibility of a motivational donut or other treat at the end of the week could really help keep you on track. Joe Vennare, creator of Hybrid Athlete, says just that. “It’s a reward for hard work in the gym and adherence in the kitchen,” he claims. Jillian Guinta, professor of Health and Physical Education at Seton Hall University agrees with him, stating that “oftentimes, it may take several weeks to see the scale budge, so knowing that a cheat day is coming up can help keep up motivation.”