Why cheat days are sabotaging your progress and relationship with food?!?

At some point we have all followed some type of diet that we attempted to follow 5-6 days out of the week, and then allow 1-2 “cheat” days for sanity sake.   We kill ourselves (physically and emotionally) in the gym all week long while we are super strict on our eating during these days in the gym.  By the end of the week we have started to get back to where we left off before the weekend started.  The only problem is we are looking forward to that one day over the weekend that we can have all of the “bad” foods that we didn’t allow ourselves during the week.  You know the guilty indulgences that keep us sane and happy.

Is your cheat day the best day of the week?  Do you beat yourself up, and feel guilty if you make “bad” food choices on non-cheat days? This weekend binge can be a lot of fun, but it creates a feeling of scarcity.  Scarcity makes us feel anxious and greedy.  This creates a problem with eating… unhealthy relationship with food.  We all have a tendency to overeat during the entire cheat day, because we can’t stand the thought of not being allowed these foods once Monday rolls around again….but I am sure you have never experienced this, right?

After a while you will probably notice that the weekend overeating is starting to sabotage your goals and sometimes even spills in to weekdays.  By Monday it’s like starting all over again. You are feeling bloated, heavier and most likely a little guilty because you have just pushed yourself a little further from the goals that you have.  Weekend overeating puts us back to square one when trying to make gains in performance and weight loss.  Sounds like a vicious cycle of chasing our tails.

For some cheat days work, but for most it creates a vicious cycle of overeating.  After a weekend of cheat meals we feel that the rest of our week needs to be perfect and that we have to follow all of the rules.  This sets us up for failure.  It’s impossible to be perfect all of the time.  We have to let the food rules go.  We have to learn to eat in moderation with a plan. We shouldn’t label foods good and bad or can and can’t have.   Yes, some foods are healthier than others.  Some foods are better to eat in abundance than others, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t have those at all.  No we shouldn’t eat a gallon of ice cream each night, but rather than skipping the ice cream that we really want tonight so that we can have all the pizza, ice cream, cake etc. on Saturday maybe we should have the small bowl of ice cream tonight and eat like normal on Saturday?

Ask yourself if cheat days are working for you?  Are you happy with your results?  Or are you feeling like you are taking one step forward during the week and two steps back on the weekends?  If you are working hard through the week and never getting anywhere it could be time to create a new way to eat.  It may be time to let go of all of the food rules that you have created over a lifetime and learn a new way to eat.

-Rachel Holden

Precision Nutrition Certified

For more details on creating a plan that includes those foods you love, contact Rachel Holden, CS&F Nutritional Coach at:


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