This weekend, many of you will be celebrating Easter and when you’re trying to become someone who lives a healthy lifestyle, you may be seeing others on social media throwing phrases like “cheat day,” “reward yourself,” and “live a little” around.
It’s interesting though, isn’t it? When people use words like this, it signals to me that they associate healthy living with strict food rules and deprivation.
But here’s the thing, when your daily routine is built on healthy habits, you’ll never have diet again.
After working with thousands of clients over the past decade, I can assure you that for the vast majority, the “cheat meal” approach didn’t work long-term.
Sure, some folks can pull it off for a few weeks — maybe even a few months, but I’ve never seen anyone turn it into an effective lifelong strategy. When it comes to sustainable behavior change, it means changing our daily habits through a process of small incremental steps.
There are many ways that “cheat meals/days” can sabotage your progress, but below are some of the most common:
1️⃣ Keeps you obsessing over foods deemed “unacceptable” (except once a week)
2️⃣ Feelings of deprivation and restriction
3️⃣ Promotes share and guilt on those less than perfect days
4️⃣ Can instill disordered eating behaviors like those found in the “restrict-then-binge” cycle
5️⃣ Perpetues the “diet mentality” and food rules
6️⃣ Attaches moral judgment to “good” and “bad” Foods
7️⃣ Does NOT teach lifelong sustainable eating habits
8️⃣ One “cheat meal” often turns into a full-blown cheat day
And perhaps one of the most obvious: it perpetuates the use of food as a “reward” for good behavior.
What about you? Does your behavior change on holidays or do you simply eat as if it’s just another day?