Should I have a cheat day when on a diet

 Cheat days when dieting - are they good for you?

How often do you have a “cheat/treat day”? Or are you encouraged to have a “cheat/treat” day with your current “diet”? Do you ever think about the effects of this on your body immediately and in the long term?

I find it fascinating when people tell me that their programmes allow “cheat/treat” days or that they can take the weekend off if they have been really good during the week!

When you have this mind set when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, you will never be able to maintain it. There are a number of reasons why this is not good for you and I am going to explain them to you, but why am I talking about this today. (March 2018)

Well I have had a very busy weekend with Mother’s Day and doing a coffee morning for my son to go to Nairobi in July and it has started a thought process.

Here’s what I had posted on my SMASH Worldwide page on Facebook the day  after Mother’s Day 2018:-

“I had a crazy one but still a lovely one! We had our first fundraising event for my son going out to do volunteering work in Nairobi in the summer. We arranged a coffee morning after church yesterday. This meant I was baking lots over the weekend – and baking foods that I don’t normally do – I don’t think everyone is ready for my healthy treats yet
Lots of gorgeous tray bakes were made, with scones and fresh cream and so much to choose from. We all enjoyed it and the coffee morning was a huge success.
However, what this has done has led me to ask the questions – “How many people live for the weekend?” “How many people look forward to their treat/cheat day?” and “How does their food choices on these days effect them on a weekly basis?”
Why have I come up with these questions? Well, yesterday I did take part in the coffee morning and ate some of the tray bakes that I made and we had some when we came home too. My weakness is anything minty – my mint aero tray bakes were amazing! And the effect on my body is so interesting.
So, if foods like this have an effect on my body, is the same thing happening to everyone else but they just don’t realise it?  I am so in tune with my body I recognise these things but others don’t.
So would you like to know what happened?
Well let me tell you:-
* I fell asleep yesterday afternoon – I haven’t done that in years. I just couldn’t stop myself. But the really interesting thing was that we all dozed in the afternoon – that never happens in our house.
* My guts have been really “crampy” since eating these sweet treats and I feel a bit nauseous.
* I feel brain fog for the first time in years! I used to feel like this all of the time before I found my healthy lifestyle
* My body felt really bloated with my hands swelling
* I feel really light headed and lethargic today. This is so not me! I hate feeling this way.
* I have had a dull headache from yesterday afternoon.
* I am slightly craving sugary things!!
Some of you will question as to whether eating some tray bakes can do this to you but I can tell you that it is the only thing different that I did over the weekend.
So why am I sharing this – well if you are on a “diet” that encourages you to have treat/cheat days or to take the weekend off, I want you to think about the damage that you are doing to your body.”
SMASH Worldwide Cheat Days

What actually happens when you have cheat/treat days or have the weekend off?






 Well, what happens is that if you have a treat/cheat day you tend to overeat massively on these days. I often see photos up on Facebook and Instagram of people with mountains of food on their plate with the tag "#cheat day" and they are so proud of the food that they are eating. It is like "look! I'm healthy most of the time and I work out BUT I can still eat like this so it makes me normal!" The scary thing is that it is not just the amount of food, it is the type of food too.





It is highly calorific food, filled full of sugars, bad fats and additives!! I always feel so concerned for these people when I see their posts. The damage that is being done to their body – and their mind – is mind blowing.

The Diet Mentality - Starve and Binge

Traditionally when you are on a "diet", you are told to eat less food.  You are continually hungry and you are craving “normal” foods. Then on your “treat/cheat day" or weekend off, you totally over indulge. After all, you are allowed to on this day!! With this mentality it means that you totally over do it and eat foods that you have been craving all week, that really aren’t healthy and really don’t do your body any favours and damage you reaching your goals.

What people normally do is be in a calorie deficit Monday to Friday 5pm and then eat and drink to excess over the weekend. At the weekend, the foods that people eat are so high in calories and the amount of alcohol that is consumed is so high, that any benefit that has been achieved by being in a calorie deficit during the week has been destroyed by having the weekend off.

I have seen people eat/drink over 3000 calories a day at the weekend. The result of this is that they will have no weight loss when they go to their slimming club and stand on the scales. They will end up really unmotivated and give up on the latest fad diet that they are doing!! After all they aren’t losing weight by being “good” all week and just having weekends off!!

This is just one aspect of having days off when it comes to weight loss.

Other things that happen when having a cheat day:-

  • Your body starts to crave junk food again.

    When you eat highly processed foods, they are triggering the parts of your brain that encourages you to eat more. Foods are designed like this. Food manufacturers want to to continue to eat their foods! After all it is how they make their money!
  • Your body comes out of “fat-burning mode”

    When you eat sugary foods or drink alcohol – when you have your treat/cheat day you are stopping your body from releasing fat for 3 days!! Is it really worth it? I have had people challenge me on this statistic and we have tested it. I have had people track their body over a 7 day period and see the effects of a treat day. It is fascinating and every time I am proven right.
  • Your blood sugars go crazy!

    This plays havoc with your body. People tend to feel really tired, suffer from brain fog, have no energy and really struggle through the day. When your blood sugars are balanced these things do not happen.
  • Your digestive system is set off balance.

    Your PH will change, the nutritional value of the food that you are eating changes and you start to crave food more. This is because your body isn’t getting what it needs in order to survive, so it triggers you to want to eat more. When you are in this mode, you crave junk food that is high in sugars to give you energy however what you actually need is food that is high in nutrients.
  • Your microbiome is being damaged.

    Alcohol can kill the good bacteria that are in your microbiome, and the sugary foods are feeding the bad bacteria that are in your microbiome. This is not good for long term health as the health of your microbiome has a dramatic affect on your physical and mental health.

Advice on Cheat Days

So whilst you are in fat loss mode and adapting to a new healthier lifestyle, my advice to you is to NOT have cheat/treat days. They totally screw up your hard work and make it even harder for you to reach your long term goal.

If you are being encouraged to have cheat/treat days or being encouraged to use up your “syns/points/or anything of that sort” on junk food, I would seriously reconsider the programmes long term effectiveness!! Eating a curly wurly just to get to your correct number of syns is wrong! Eat something nutritious instead!! It is much better for your body.

Does this mean that you will never have a “cheat/treat day” ever again?

Well, I never term anything with food and alcohol as a “cheat". It is so important that we get rid of that terminology in relation to food. We must change our relationship with food.  Food is designed to nourish us and provide our body with everything that it needs in order to survive. When you view food like that, everything changes.

Once you reach your ideal weight with which you are able to live a healthy lifestyle, then you make choices based on what you want to do and how you want to feel.

That is what I did that weekend, I made a choice. I am not dieting and I am in control of my weight so I am not concerned about losing weight.  Mind you with the effects of the tray bakes on my body I don’t think I will be doing it again. Yesterday and today I have had a flash back of what my life used to be like - headaches, pain and cravings! I will never go back to living that way again. I love being able to live my life full of energy and vitality.

Think of what you are putting in your body and how it effects it and your goals for life.

Yours in Health and Happiness

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