Some weight loss coaches recommend having an occasional cheat day in your diet plan. The reasoning is that if you do not feel totally deprived as you reduce calorie, you will be more likely to stick with your diet. But is this a good idea? No, it is not.
The problem with a cheat day is that it still fosters a mindset of food indulgence as a reward. But it is a not a good idea to use food as a reward for yourself. The habit of using food as reward and comfort is partly to blame for the epidemic of obesity that we are currently seeing in our country. Many people have adopted the practice (often without even realizing it) of indulging in food when they are tired, sad or happy. Every occasion seems to call for food, as does every emotional state imaginable.
But the problem with using food in this way is that food indulgence becomes tightly intertwined with every single area of our lives. We begin to feel as though we cannot experience life fully without celebratory or compensatory food. This leads to eating habits that are about more than how hungry we are. These eating habits are driven by emotion.
The best way to establish a lifestyle of healthy weight control is to remove the temptation to see food as a reward; this will help to diffuse the emotional connections with food and make it much easier to logically make wise eating choices. Eating should not be seen as reward or indulgence or other ways of bringing happiness and emotional satisfaction. That is not to say that you should not try to enjoy your food. You should enjoy your food. But your reason for eating should be mainly about satisfying hunger and nourishing your body.
Having cheat days, however, promotes the view of food as indulgence, treat and reward. It fosters the view of food as fun and entertaining, rather than neutral and nourishing. Cheat days encourage indulgence and overeating, which is the very attitude that we must get away from if we are to have a healthy mindset when it comes to food.
Adopting a new mindset about food is the only way that you will be able to maintain weight loss. And the only way to adopt a new mindset about food is stop thinking of it as reward. Training your mind to think this way is tough enough without reverting back to a reward mindset.
Rather than reward yourself with cheat days, find other ways to reward yourself for sticking to your weight loss and fitness plans. You will find that the process of becoming and staying healthy is much quicker!
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