How many times have you heard a very fit, healthy women refer to a “cheat day” in terms of their eating habits? I admit to being a culprit here too, but I think we need to come up with a more positive term.
Cheating implies breaking the rules or doing something illegal and is oftentimes associated with feelings of guilt. There is nothing “cheating” about occasionally indulging a craving. Most people I know who talk about cheat days, aren’t even indulging to excess. They might just have a scoop of ice cream or a handful of fries with dinner. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it just keeps your metabolism on your toes! If you constantly undercut on nutrition and calories, your body gets used to it. Your metabolism functions better when it is faced with variety. This is much like how your body reacts to constantly doing the same workout routine day after day. If you mix it up a bit, you constantly challenge yourself and oftentimes see better results. Your metabolism needs this too, let’s just not call it a “cheat” day.
So many diets fail because they are overly restrictive. Who really wants to cut out all carbs, all desserts, all dairy, etc.? Eating to promote health is a life long journey. Daily exercise and nutritional intake should be sustainable. It shouldn’t be a chore or something that is dreaded. You still ought to enjoy food. Sharing a meal is an inherently social event. I know my best times are spent talking with good friends over good food and drink. Rather than setting rigid nutritional rules, I promote moderation. For me this means I eat until I’m sated; I eat every few hours to ward off huge hunger pangs that generally set off overeating; and I eat what I enjoy, but in moderate portions. I have the biggest sweet tooth. Although some think of dessert as a “bad food”, I indulge in something sweet everyday. Sometimes this is key lime yogurt, a scoop of gelato, or a chocolate chip cookie. I shouldn’t feel badly about eating dessert if it is part of a balanced diet. They key here being “as part of a balanced diet.”
So how about we lose the negative nomenclature, and not speak of cheating. After all, these cheat days are all part of a healthy diet. Let’s stop instituting unnecessary rules and stop aiming for absolute perfection. Instead, let’s talk about fueling our body for health.