How to Navigate Cheat Days

These days I’m all about intuitive eating. The basics of intuitive eating involve rejecting a diet mentality, honoring your hunger and fullness cues and forgetting militant exercise. This may sound a little crazy for someone who has a strict fitness and diet schedule, but it’s something to consider trying if you want to erase “cheat days” from your routine.

So Here’s What’s Up With Cheat Days…

The problem with “cheat days” is that it can lead to overeating and even worse – restricting. In general, a “cheat day” means eating whatever you want because you’ve been staying on track. Some people translate this into one big meal a week or maybe one weekend day that they can eat anything they want with no reservations. While one meal (or three) won’t totally ruin your progress, you may end up feeling guilty or too full. This goes against everything intuitive eating stands for!

“… instead you should be flexible with your diet and shoot for happiness instead of perfection.”

Feeling guilty about food is never okay and feeling overly full is just plain uncomfortable. Listen to your hunger and fullness cues! It is so important to be in tune with your body. Using “cheat days” can make you feel like you’ve failed and restricting yourself and then eating a large amount of sugar and fat can have a very negative impact on your blood sugar levels. This may leave you feeling groggy and rundown afterward. So instead you should be flexible with your diet and shoot for happiness instead of perfection.

Do you feel like having a brownie today? Go for it! Do you feel like taking a walk instead of training at the gym? Do it! How about an extra snack today? Done.

If you aren’t totally ready to dive into intuitive eating and you want to keep “cheat days” in your routine, then here is some advice. Don’t “cheat” frequently and plan around special occasions. If you have a party, wedding or event coming up make sure you use that as your day to enjoy some treats. Get moving and try to still be active on your “cheat day.” This way you still maintain some balance while indulging. Savor every bite – don’t just scarf down your food. Enjoy the moment.

Overall, adding some healthy fats here and there or a piece of chocolate after a meal can really boost your mood and help you stay on track. Each day doesn’t have to a strict plan! Try to remove the labels “good” and “bad” from your idea of food. Every food fits.