The notion of a cheat day can be harmful, drawing the line of morality with foods by promoting an all-or-nothing mentality. Here’s why it can do little to benefit your health.


You’ve heard the term “cheat day”. Perhaps you even implement this phrase into your own vocabulary regularly. But what you may not know is that having regular cheat days is doing more harm to your health and your body than you may know.

From social outings to holiday parties, if you’ve stuffed yourself with food you may not typically let yourself eat, you may be feeling the need to cut back the next day and eat “clean”.

But the fact is, cheat days are holding you back from living more freely.

Here are the two reasons why cheat days keep your mind in an unhealthy place.

1. You are not listening to what your body needs.

Eating the foods you would on a cheat day isn’t harmful in and of itself. It’s the actual concept of having a cheat day in the first place that’s the problem. That’s because having cheat days means that on the days you’re restricting yourself, you are not honoring your cravings or listening to your body. Cheat days mean that you feel there’s a morality with foods, and that certain foods are ‘good’ while others are ‘bad’. Cheat days indicate that you feel the need to justify eating something you enjoy, while still holding on to you guilt around it.

2. You feel both guilty and deprived.

After you’ve gone through your entire week being “good”, eating salads every day out of an obligation to be “healthy”, you get to your designated “cheat day” only to be so deprived of anything flavorful all week that you find yourself unable to control yourself around food. You eat past fullness because you can’t pay attention to how the food actually tasted. All you know is that you deserved it after a week of dieting. You go to sleep feeling guilt, shame, and regret for your cheat day and vow to do better tomorrow. And the cycle starts all over again.

The fact is, your body wasn’t made to have cheat days.

And in order to break the cycle, it starts by not restricting on any given day. It starts by honoring your cravings, giving yourself permission to eat all foods, and getting rid of any morality you’ve placed on food.  Only then can you experience the joy as you embrace a life that allows you to enjoy food on any given day.

You can go out to eat with friends during the week, and not worry about eating something on your “good” list.

You can be a guest at someone’s house and have peace with food no matter what they serve, and you will be grateful.

You can listen to your body, honor your cravings, be intuitive, and cultivate love for your body by not shaming it with food.

And it starts, simply, by getting rid of the word “cheat”.

Adapted from the original article.

Victoria Yates, RN is a Registered Nurse & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor based in Westchester, NY who focuses on helping women reach a healthier relationship with food and their bodies. She is passionate about guiding others reprogram negative thoughts around food and body image so they may experience a truly joyful life. Learn more about Victoria Yates Nutrition.