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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Cheat days - A good or bad idea?

Cheat days! These are often something I hear people talk about when they trying to eat a Paleo diet. And whilst the concept sounds like a good, 'eat good all week and then on Sunday have a congratulations you did well total food blow out', I am here to tell you that cheat days are a bad idea.

Here is TWO reasons why:

First, eating real food, clean food, Paleo, Primal - whatever you want to call it, is not a diet. It's a lifestyle choice you have made because it makes you look, feel and perform better. Psychologically you will screw everything up if once a week it's perfectly acceptable to eat crap food. You have sabotaged yourself and subconsciously told yourself you have failed. You are also reinforcing that eating crap food is okay, which you know it isn't otherwise you wouldn't be here in the first place.

Now don't get me wrong - having a treat now and then is perfectly acceptable and part of the healthy eating lifestyle. But a set day every week where you can eat your chips, dip and fizzy - ah no, that makes what you are doing a diet and the cheat day some sort of crazy reward. Don't screw up your own psychology and motivation here. Keep it simple - treats are acceptable on occasion, cheat days are not acceptable.

Your goal is to enjoy tasty real foods and develop a healthy psychological relationship with them. If you have a regular cheat day you are constantly reinforcing to yourself that your new eating habits are just a temporary thing. Usually we call this a DIET - and no one likes diets...

Secondly, cheat days tend to involve eating foods that are not within the guidelines of Paleo or clean eating. You must remember why you choose to eliminate these foods in the first place? Because they made you look and feel BAD! Not only that but they cause gut problems but also subsequent inflammation and chronic disease. You need to eat very little of these foods to have problems for days after they are consumed, so your cheat day on Sunday could still be affecting you the following Saturday AND GUESS WHAT?? Tomorrow you get another cheat day, yippee! Consequently, you may as well just eat your cheat foods all the time because the health affects are the same.

There are plenty of treats out there which are Paleo or Primal compliant. For example, making some Paleo muffins or Paleo chocolate. 

I don't think I need to go on too much more because I think those two points cover the main reasons why I think cheat days are BAD. Obtaining your health and fitness goals means setting realistic goals and consistently achieving them. If you don't think you can go 100% with Paleo eating, start at 60% and work your way up to 90-95%. Set yourself up to succeed from the beginning :-)

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