I like to think of myself as someone who carefully watches what I eat, keeping my diet under strict supervision and in sync with whichever workout plan I may be following at the time. Then those days arrive (every single weekend) where I find myself at a crossroads between staying fit and choosing delicious, mouth-watering but also calorie-laden food. It is but natural to cave in and end up splurging with careless abandon. This setback goes a long way in throwing shade on all the hard work I've put in. To avoid such disheartening results such as these, there are certain ways in which your cheat day can actually help you stay fit

It is time that we breakout from the vicious cycle of guilt that we goad ourselves into whenever we indulge. This feeling comes with long periods of controlled eating coupled with a period of 'weakness' in which our cravings play havoc on our minds. We end up eating unthinkingly guided solely by our starved tastebuds and then plunge into a period of mourning when we realise how overboard we might have gone. The only way to do this is to form a strategy for your cheat meal and kick away that troublesome guilt once and for all. 

The Benefits

Kate Monick

There is a lot of talk about "the cheat day," spanning from absolute caution against it to various benefit claims that are associated with it. We must first look at it ourselves in our pros and cons list and concede that it does provide a huge morale boost to our bodies. It is obvious that even the most dedicated individual can get bogged down with a constant diet of grilled chicken and other forms of protein and carefully planned intake of nutrients. What your cheat meal can do, if you allow it to, is provide a mental break from the frugal life and give you the much-needed nourishment both mentally and physically to carry on. 

Another very important benefit the cheat meal achieves is that it gives your body the signal to increase the production of a hormone called leptin, or the 'starvation hormone'. So when you transform your diet to achieve a more healthy lifestyle, what it does is create a calorie deficit. It causes your leptin hormone to decrease which can actually slow your metabolism and cause your body to become lazy in burning calories. Your cheat day serves the purpose of tricking your body into thinking the calorie intake has increased and creates more leptin, hence an increased rate of metabolism.

The Plan

Health, Lifting, gym, Weights, espresso, tea, beer, coffee
Carolyne Su

If you keep in mind just a few things before you head out to treat yourself, it could go a long way in balancing your diet even on the day you're supposedly "cheating."

You don't want to sit down for a cheat meal completely starved. If your body has been in deprivation mode, you are going to inhale all those calories without registering or enjoying what you are eating and, more importantly, you are more likely to overindulge. It would be better to ensure you eat something light a few hours before you head out to grab that cheese-laden pizza so that you don't end up eating the whole pie in your hunger-driven frenzy.

coffee, beer, tea
Brittany Baumli

The key to a beneficial cheat meal is moderation. The best way to successfully moderate yourself is to make sure you know exactly what you want to reward yourself with beforehand. When you are given a plethora of options to choose from, you will most likely end up ordering the most extravagant option and also end up eating more.

Your indulgence is not a sin, and you shouldn't view it as such. But one way to "offset" your cheat day is to get active by sweating it out in the form of any workout of your choice. Exercise in any and all forms will not only help you burn calories but also stay fresh and on top of your concentration game. 

You can never be too careful.

eating, girl, cupcake, coffee, sweet, candy, chocolate
Jocelyn Hsu

These are a few things that can easily turn your cheat meal into a cheat week and then a cheat month, which will inadvertently lead to you completely abandoning any thought of a healthy lifestyle. Under no circumstances should you stake out in your room alone with your choice of hedonism while Netflixing. Ultimately, you want to be conscious during your cheat meal and savour every bit of it. 

A cheat meal should not be code for an all-out gorge session that will harm your body in more ways than you can imagine. Drink lots of water, preferably with some lemon or lime in it to act as an antioxidant that will flush out the extra sodium you are putting in your system. All of this ensures that your stomach gets a little happy surprise every once in a while and you get to keep that body you've been working for all along.

Remember to listen to what your body needs and do not let your guilt bully you into starving yourself and denying yourself a filling nutritious meal. Take time to treat yourself but remember, a little caution will go a long way when it comes to avoiding overdoing it. This way your cheat day can actually help you stay on track of your goal.