Having a cheat day is one of those things that sounds like a good idea in your head, but doesn't actually pan out that way. A "cheat day" is basically when you throw your healthy diet out the window and take a day off from your workout regimen. A lot of people claim that giving yourself a cheat day is healthy for your body, and especially your mind, because no foods are off limits.

While I agree that you shouldn't restrict your diet (unless you have an allergy or intolerance and you need to cut certain foods out), I believe eating healthy all week, limiting your calories, and then pigging out on a cheat day isn't so healthy either.

fish, salmon, rice
Ashleigh Monaco

Think about it this way: on Monday, you start off a weight-loss/fitness plan motivated and prepared. All of your meals are prepped and ready to go. Every meal is full of veggies, healthy proteins, healthy fats, and healthy carbs. Hungry between meals? You pick up an apple, or carrots and hummus, instead of the bag of Doritos sitting in your cabinet. 

And then Sunday comes around: your "cheat day." After eating healthy, working out, and being "good" all week, you've earned this day. You even go in with a game plan: a big, greasy breakfast at the local diner; lunch at the fast food restaurant of your choosing; and you forgo dinner in lieu of an ice cream sundae bigger than the state of Texas.

You might think that dedicating a day to indulging is healthy, but cheat days aren't as good for you as you might think, and here are some reasons why.

1. You're undoing all the progress you made that week.

Remember how good you felt all week while eating your fruits and vegetables? If you put good fuel into your body and take care of it by exercising, it'll function better. By dedicating a day to eating your body weight in sugar and grease, you're undoing all of the progress you've made during the week.

Feeling like crap the next day will only turn you away from the gym, because you're too nauseous to work out. By the time your body gets all the cheat day meals out and you start feeling great again, your next cheat day comes and you go through it all over again. 

2. You're creating an unhealthy mindset.

By only allowing yourself to have unhealthy foods on a specific day, you're still restricting. You're also labeling certain foods as "good" and "bad"/"off-limits" by saying you can only have the "good" foods on, say, weekdays, and the "bad" foods on weekends.

Life is too short to not let yourself enjoy the simple pleasures of life, and that includes food. Even Kayla Itsines leaves room for treats every once in a while. Dieting only becomes a depressing chore when you deprive yourself of what makes you happy.

It will be much healthier for you in the long run if you adopt a mindset that's all about balance. A good place to start is the 80/20 rule, which says to eat healthy 80% of the time, and indulge the other 20%. Depriving yourself will only make you feel guilty and gross later because you binged on your cheat day.

3. You're damaging your body.

Having an inconsistent diet, meaning you eat more calories on some days and less calories on others, is damaging to your body. This is actually why most people losing weight reach a plateau during their weight loss plans. 

By giving your body a consistent amount of calories every day, it won't hold onto fat because it thinks you're starving it, and you'll be able to burn more calories during your workout.

caramel, chocolate, butter, peanut butter, peanut
Ashleigh Monaco

The best thing you can do for your health — and your sanity — is to live a life of balance. Let indulgences fit into your healthy eating and exercise routine, instead of considering them the devils that are hindering your weight loss and should be entirely avoided, or should be your “reward” for working hard and restricting yourself all week long.

A real life example

goody, scone, chocolate, pastry, cookie, cake, sweet
Ashleigh Monaco

My lovely creative writing teacher brought homemade chocolate chip scones in for my fellow classmates and I on the last day of class. This class was on a Monday. 

If I was on a diet plan and designated a cheat day for myself on Sundays, this probably would’ve freaked me out. It wouldn’t have fit in with my eating plan; I’d see the scone as a “bad” food, something I’m only allowed to eat on Sundays. The scone just doesn’t work. I’d pass along the bag to the boy sitting next to me, not taking one for myself, or I’d take one, and feel guilty about it.

But I did take the scone. Did I feel guilty about eating it? Not at all. Did I workout twice as hard the next morning to make up for the calories? Nope. I still ate my vegetables at lunch and at dinner. I don’t feel like I gained ten pounds in the three minutes it took me to eat the scone. I feel completely fine, even though I ate something considered “unhealthy.”

It’s much better for you to #treatyoself every once in a while instead of making yourself miserable all week, until your cheat day comes around, and you pig out until you feel gross. It’s not good for your body or your mind, and life is way too short to miss out on life because it’s not your “cheat day."