Should you have a “CHEAT DAY”?

Healthy Eating in New York

What you do you think when you hear someone say they’re going to have a “CHEAT DAY” or “CHEAT WEEKEND”?


Do you think of eating ice-cream for breakfast, pizza for lunch and fish and chips for dinner.. washed down with a chocolate milkshake? Or eating your body weight in chocolate, whilst drinking a bottle (or two) of wine?


When I think of the term ‘cheat day’, I think of hard work going to waste; let’s say someone has eaten relatively well all week, and they’re in a calorie deficit for weight loss, you can consume quite a lot of calories in a single day and have the ability to completely undo the calorie deficit that you created (needed if your goal is weight loss!) 


This fantastic infographic from Carter Good shows it perfectly:



As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of ‘cheat days’; in my opinion they reinforce the premise that both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods exist (you eat ‘bad foods’ on ‘cheat days’) and this may promote a cycle of restriction and binge eating i.e. a negative relationship with food.


There is good in ALL foods; even white bread is fortified with minerals and other foods such as biscuits that contain relatively little in the way of nutrients, are more often than not good for your soul! The key is MODERATION NOT DEPRIVATION when it comes to these foods.


I promote eating higher calorie, less nutrient dense meals and foods such as takeaways and ice-cream less often, perhaps once a week, but I think we should call it a treat meal not a cheat meal. In addition, why not call meals that nourish us from the inside out treat meals too?!


This is another perfectly illustrated infographic from Carter Good showing what I mean..



For example, I LOVE Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream (as I declared in this Facebook Post!), but I don’t eat it every night of the week and I’ll have it after a balanced evening meal. I’ll also share a tub between my sister and fiancé which makes the whole experience not only super tasty but sociable too. I don’t call it ‘bad’ food, or have it on a ‘cheat day’; I just have it when I REALLY fancy it … or when it’s on offer 😉


Give yourself permission to eat absolutely anything, as when you’re free to eat anything, you can eat anything without eating everything.


Remember, there are no “good” or “bad” foods, just good and bad diets. It’s the frequency of the foods that you eat that matters the most. Eating vegetables once a week isn’t healthy, and eating chocolate several times a day isn’t healthy either.


Practice the 80/20 ‘rule’, eat more/mostly nutrient dense foods, savour your ‘treats’ (less nutrient dense, higher calorie foods) and you’ll soon find a balanced way of eating where no foods are out of bounds. After all, as soon as you put a food in the ‘off limits’ list, you’ll start to crave it more, trust me!



The key is to develop a healthier relationship with food and although it’s good to plan in higher calorie, favourite foods into our week I’m not convinced that having blow out ‘cheat days’ is the way forward. A little bit of what you fancy does you good, but not buckets worth eaten in 1 day because you’ve deprived yourself all week!


You can read more about ‘cheat days’ in The Independent online where I was quoted and you can read what others have said about CHEAT DAYS over on my Facebook Page – see below!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 4 = six

For healthy recipes & nutrition tips join the Nic's Nutrition newsletter below!