July 9, 2010

"Cheat Days"...a help or hinderance in life long weight maintenance?

Over the years, I have talked with many different people about their strategies to loosing fat.  One strategy, in particular, has been the most widely practiced and noted with the Weight Watchers and the TOPS groups. It involved the "cheat day".  The idea is that if you stick to your diet plan during the week, you may eat whatever you want or enjoy a "treat" on your cheat day. But does this help or hurt your chances of weight loss in the long run?
In my opinion, if you are eating a balanced, healthy diet rich in veggies and low in packaged foods, AND be mindful of portion sizes, you shouldn't have to have a "cheat day". In fact, the notion of one day to eat all the foods you have been forbidden to eat may lead to binge eating and the guilt that always follows. It is very similair to using exercise as a weight loss tool. Many people will reward themselves with a treat because of the workout they did that day. These are also the people who cannot figure out why they can't loose the fat or are stabilized with their weight.
If you are using "cheat days" to help you loose fat, try this instead...
1. Focus on serving sizes according to the Canada's Food Guide (CFG). I'm not kidding when I say that CFG is the best diet plan ever. Follow that and you can't go wrong.
2. Limit or get rid of all processed foods including diet pop and other diet foods. 
3. Eat a diet full of colourful vegetables and fruit. When you are craving sweets reach for an exotic peice of fruit instead. Trust me, this may sound trite and something your mother would say, but it does become a habit and something you will enjoy.
4. Find ways to enjoy your fun foods without the "junk". If you love fries, make them at home with potatos and a spray of canola oil in the oven.  If you love sweets, make homemade caramel corn and scoop out a small serving. If you can't live without chocolate, enjoy a few squares after dinner but make it the good chocolate, not that processed stuff you find at the counter.
I do believe "cheat days" will hinder the fat loss process and definately not lead to a life of healthful eating. If you enjoy your diet every day, you will never need another cheat day again!
Happy Eating.

1 comment:

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