Archive for the tag - 80/20

Is It Okay to Cheat on Your Diet Sometimes?

stackOfDoughnutsI get a lot of emails and questions about cheating on a diet or nutrition plan.

First things first, I’m not a big fan of the word “cheating.” It’s a loaded word and one that we often associate with dishonesty in a relationship. After the cheating comes the guilt, and then the guilt inspires nothing but feelings of shame and more negativity. Such downward cycles can be very destructive in any aspect of life – and food is no exception.

In fact, many people turn to food as a way to soothe and comfort, and thus the very act of cheating can create a cycle of binging, unhealthy choices and even more guilt. And even more binging.

You get the idea.

Instead of giving yourself cheat days, I’ve always said that it’s really about creating balance. Most of the time, eat the nourishing foods that your body needs. Eat the lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains that provide the nutrients and energy to fuel your life. And then some of the time, indulge in those foods that you crave.

I’ve always espoused the 80/20 rule for newbies. Eat healthy 80% of the time. It’s a great way to create balance in your life. After all, if you resist an unhealthy food that you crave – you’ll probably just crave it even more. The more you say to yourself, “I can’t eat ice cream,” the more you’re thinking about ice cream. And the more you think about ice cream, the more you’ll crave it.

Here’s the catch. Pay attention to how your body feels after the indulgence. How does your body feel after you eat the ice cream? Even without feelings of guilt or shame, our bodies don’t respond well to unhealthy foods. You may feel sluggish, tired or even slightly ill. When you pay attention to how unhealthy foods make your body feel, you may discover that you crave those unhealthy foods a little less.

Over time, the 80/20 rule may even become the 90/10 rule. Who knows?

In the comments below, share your favorite cheat balance food. Mine is pepperoni pizza. Mmm.

Losing Weight with “Cheat Days”: Do They Work?

I’ve often heard people say that, when dieting, it’s good to have a “cheat day” or “binge day” where you can eat whatever you want. This helps to shock your metabolism.

I’m just wondering, do you have a cheat day? And if so, what types of things do you allow yourself to eat on those days? I don’t want to eat something that will ruin my progress entirely (I’ve lost 47lbs as of Monday when I last checked my weight!), but the idea of having a cheat day sounds great to me.

Thanks,
Brad

Brad, first off – congratulations on releasing 47 lbs of weight. I hope you’re enjoying the journey and delighting in the benefits of a healthier you!

For people unfamiliar with cheat days, the general concept is eating healthy 6 days of the week. On the 7th day, less-healthy choices are allowed. It’s not about eating everything in sight, but it is about maybe eating a piece of grandma’s famous fried chicken, or getting an order of fries with your sandwich.

To answer your question: I don’t have a cheat “day”, though I do something a bit similar. I follow the 80/20 rule. In a nutshell, the 80/20 rule is about eating healthy 80% of the time. During the 80%, I eat lean meats, berries, unsalted nuts, fruits, etc., etc. But every fifth meal falls into the 20% category. This is when I allow myself to “cheat”, though I prefer to call it balance. I don’t appreciate the guilt associated with the term “cheat” – it implies that you’re doing something wrong. At any rate, I’m not religious about practicing the 80/20 rule, but I do try to keep a mental note of the healthiness of recent meals.

I have read numerous articles and pieces of research that conclude cheat days do help boost metabolism, thus staving off weight-loss plateaus. And for a lot of people, cheat days give relief in an otherwise restrictive diet. So there can be some real benefits.

But I also think there’s a psychological downside to cheat days, and I don’t think they’re for everyone. I think cheat days can create a mentality of 6 days of suffering through dieting and 1 day of satisfaction. In actuality, eating healthy and satisfaction need not be mutually exclusive. Rather than focusing on what you can eat, I think it’s much wiser to focus on all the healthy, delicious and enjoyable options available. Moreover, by bringing attention to the way your body reacts to your food choices (healthy foods make the body feel good!), loading up on cheese fries starts to lose its appeal.

I hope that helps!

But what about you? Do you have a cheat day? Do you follow the 80/20 rule? Or do you eat healthy foods 24/7?