Most diet plans today are restricted in some way. They may restrict fat, carbs, meat, sugar or whatever.
What many of them have in common is that they suggest a “cheat meal” or a “cheat day” once per week.
They say that a cheat meal will boost metabolism, and reduce cravings for unhealthy food. I disagree.
Below I’ve listed 10 reasons why having a cheat meal may not be a good idea.
1. Feeding the Junk Food Addiction
I believe that junk food addiction is real, and that many people can not succeed in eating healthy because of it. Having a cheat meal every week basically feeds that addiction, and may lead to full-blown relapse.
Now, you wouldn’t tell a nicotine addict only to have cigarettes on Saturdays?
2. Doesn’t help reduce cravings
This is kind of similar to tip 1 above. If you are physically or psychologically dependant on something, having it every now and then will not reduce cravings, but actually keep them coming back again and again.
3. Eating way too much
It is common when people cheat, that they completely lose control and destroy a week’s worth of dieting. I might be unusual, but I’ve eaten 5000 calories in a single meal. That’s TWO DAYS of calories.
4. Guilt afterwards
After doing really well on a diet for a few days, it can cause a lot of guilt to have that cheat meal, unless maybe if the person manages to keep self control and not completely overeat.
5. Doesn’t raise your metabolism
I’ve read it countless times that eating a cheat meal will raise metabolism and should therefore help with weight loss. I haven’t seen any evidence to support this and I don’t really believe in it.
Also, do you think that when scientists are doing research studies on diet plans, that they allow people to cheat once per week? Of course not!
6. Junk food is unhealthy
Junk food is unhealthy. That is probably the reason why you quit eating it in the first place (duh). Having it once a week is clearly worse than having none at all.
7. Some things take a while to leave your system
There are many nasty things in junk food, such as trans fats. They can take a long time to disappear from your system, and if you keep eating them every now and then, they will never completely leave your body.
8. Taste sensation doesn’t manage to adapt
When you stop eating junk food, one of the things that happens is that with time your taste sensation adapts, and food that isn’t overly processed starts to taste good. Cheating once a week interrupts this.
9. Body doesn’t manage to adapt to the new fuel
When changing the diet, one thing the body does is ramp up enzyme production in order to start using a different fuel. This is especially important for eating plans that don’t allow sugar and grains.
If you keep cheating once in a while, the adaptation won’t fully complete.
10. Knowing that cheating is not an option makes things easier
Trust me on this.. when a cheat meal is not an option, it makes sticking to a diet much, much, much easier.
If your cheat days/meals have been causing you problems, or downright preventing you from being successful in the long-term, then these tips above should really do you good.
After all, what we should be after is not try to go on a “diet”, but to actually make a lifestyle change in order to live a healthier, happier life.
If there are any other reasons you can think of why not to have a cheat meal, or reasons why you believe cheat meals are essential, please post them in the comments section below.