Cheat meals are a bad idea.
That’s not to say that eating non-nutrient dense foods, or your favourite meals out, is a bad idea.
It’s not the foods themselves, but rather it’s the mentality that is damaging to both your weight and your relationship with food in the long run.
You have a cheat day when you perceive certain foods to be good or bad, right or wrong.
This kind of dichotomous thinking is underpinned by a lack of knowledge and understanding of nutrition.
Food is not good or bad. No one item can cause you to gain fat without being in a consistent surplus of calories.
We seem to have attached moral worth to food which only leads to an emotional rollercoaster and more often a repetitive binge/ restrict cycle.
What makes your avocado on sourdough more virtuous than your bowl of cereal?
Your diet isn’t a marriage. You can’t cheat on it.
An inherent desire to over consume food is a strong indicator that you have been restricted in your nutrition strategy. Adherence is essential.
The way we look at food is important. How do you feel when you eat something you perceive to be bad?
You feel guilty. You may even regret eating it in the first place. This is not a healthy mindset to have. Attaching your self worth to the food you eat, displaying anxiety around food and obsessive behaviours in the pursuit of a ‘perfect diet” are all signs something needs to change.
We should look at food objectively, for what it is. A combination of calories, macros and micronutrients. Is it calorie-dense or not? Is it nutrient-dense or not? Of course food is more than just fuel. It is also a source of enjoyment, an important part of our gift giving economy, a platform for social interactions... but what it is not, is ‘good’, or ‘bad’.
Weight management is a numbers game. Over-consuming an excessive amount of calories on one day of the week can offset the calorie deficit you’ve worked hard to create on the other 6 days.
Moral of the story, don't blame your bank account for being broken if you keep going on spending sprees. Let’s just call it what it is.
A higher calorie day to give you a psychological break from dieting...