Cheat sounds dirty. You hide cheating. Remember when you were in class, taking a test, peeking at your pen-written notes on your hand for answers one of your buddies from a previous class gave you.
Cheating is not good. Nothing good, in the big scheme of things, comes from cheating other than getting an “A” on that test.
Treats however, treats are great! You treat yourself after a hard week at work with a cold one and your favorite food. Treats are a celebration. A celebration of the progress you made through the week. A treat does not even require you to go off of your diet and lose the notch on your belt that you have earned.
I encourage you to never cheat on your diet. Definitely not a cheat DAY. A DAY? An entire day of eating hyperpalatable crap ruining your progress, forcing you to make your own carving of a hole in your belt because you can no longer latch it on the widest option.
Instead, schedule a treat MEAL instead. Yes, schedule it. This does a number of things.
1. Simply, you have something to look forward to. You know that Friday night gives you a meal that you will absolutely devour, celebrating the accomplishments of that week. For me, it’s getting three solid jiu jitsu sessions in. If I miss a jitz session, do you think I’m going to have a treat meal? For what? I did not deserve one.
2. You can schedule around it. Maybe your hardest training session of the week is Friday and you can reward yourself with a little extra carbohydrate to replenish lost glycogen [stored sugar (energy) in your muscle].
How do you fit it in without going off your diet? Easy if you follow the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet protocol. You can truly enjoy anything you want as long as you do not go over your calorie count, and targeted macronutrients, for the day. But when we plan for it, it takes all of the guess work out of it. Friday, maybe you had a light, or totally skipped breakfast, dabbling into a little Intermittent Fasting maybe. Skipping your breakfast (sometimes the most calorie dense meal of the day) gives you more calories to play with for your cheat meal.
We create a supporting community around us to support us when times are tough and to celebrate with us when times are great. If you find yourself, crouched, hiding in a the pantry away from your support system, scarfing down a chocolate bar, you need to relook at what you have going on. You are not only letting yourself down, you are letting those around you down as well.
For example, say you have a wife and kids. They are not always going to eat the same, healthy stuff as you. Kids are eating dino nuggets and the wife is eating a salad or pizza or whatever. But she prepared you a healthy, diet-following meal. She did NOT have to do that for you. She shops special for you. She takes the TIME to prepare it for you. You CAN NOT get time back! She dirtied, and cleaned, additional dishes for you. How do you think she would feel if she saw you crouched down eating that chocolate bar most likely ruining your appetite? One of two ways probably…
1. She will feel like you betrayed her and do not appreciate her work to make sure you follow your diet.
2. She will feel joy and encourage you to keep cheating on yourself in hopes you abandon your diet so she no longer has to go out of her way to support you anymore.
The latter is a joke, but nonetheless, it’s a clear possibility in how she could feel.
The lesson is this, do not cheat. You own yourself more than that.