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Are You Taking a Nutrition Vacation?


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The Cheat Day…. What is it?

You all should know by now that I think diets are dumb. A waste of energy. A never ending cycle.

My motto is “Eat when you’re hungry”, “Eat real food”, and “Eat everything in moderation.”

With the holiday season in full effect, it’s so easy to view every day as a cheat day and think “I’ll just start eating healthy on Jan 1.” “I’ll start in the New Year.” Instead of taking a “Nutrition Vacation” make it a rule to make 80% of your eating healthy and 20% whatever the heck you want.

There are thousands and thousands of diets out there that have a “cheat day”. We are supposed to follow rigid guidelines all week and then have that one-day where we can eat whatever we want. The one diet the comes to mind that really preaches a cheat day is the “Body For Life” program. Eat super strict six days a week and on that seventh day, eat whatever, whenever. What this can do is eventually lead to an all out binge day (trust me, I’ve been there). We feel we have to eat everything we can’t have during the week on that one-day. This leads to a mentality where we think to ourselves “tomorrow I’ll start over again”. The problem is that this mentality can spread to days other than our “cheat day”. If we go off our diet, it’s so easy to “just call it a cheat day”… which leads to a full on binge, which leads us back to the thinking “tomorrow I’ll start over again”. On so the cycle begins… and never ends.

Letting Go of the Cheat Day

Another common way of thinking is to eat healthy all week and “splurge” on the weekends. I definitely went through a phase of thinking this way. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy a good splurge every now and again… it’s the quantity of the splurge that matters. Eating healthy during the week and allowing ourselves to eat out more on the weekend is perfectly healthy, but what we need to watch is the amount of food we splurge on. We still need to listen to our bodies, listen to our hunger, eat food we truly love, and stop eating when we’ve had enough. Remember… it’s all about the portion sizes.   If it tastes so good you want to keep on eating, keep in mind that you can take the rest home to enjoy the next day.

How to Splurge the Right Way

Be realistic in terms of the calorie content of your food. I’m not going to encourage full on calorie counting, but think of calories in a very loose and realistic way. If we order a dish of fettuccine alfredo, we know that dish has upwards of 1,600 + calories. Realistically, we do not need to be eating that much food. Think about the bread, side salad, and wine we’ve already consumed prior to our dish arriving. This can put us way over a 2,000-calorie dinner. Have a game plan and assess the menu before you order. If you really want the fettuccine, you can pass on the bread and/or wine, or, you can order it all and have a small taste of everything, but in reality, you’re not eating much food at all. It’s the amount of food we eat that matters the most.

Think of every day as a Cheat Day! Never Deprive Yourself

If we let ourselves eat the foods we love whenever, we don’t need to have a designated day to enjoy them. Eighty percent of your diet should be healthy, and 20% is whatever else you want (healthy or not). As long as you are honoring your body, eating when you are truly physically hungry, and being mindful of your portion sizes, you can easily reach and maintain your healthy weight all while allowing yourself you daily “cheats”.

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Question of the Day….

Are you taking a Nutrition Vacation? Have you ever fallen into the “Cheat Day?”

I’ve definitely had my moments when I’ve done this, but I’ve learned my lesson. I use to view the weekends as two days where I could eat whatever I wanted. Not anymore. I pretty much eat healthy, but I eat when I’m hungry and eat what I want.


11 Responses

  1. Diana @ frontyardfoodie said on December 22, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I just figure eating whatever I want (while staying vegan) in small portions is the way to go.

    I usually try to not focus on food though. I get my first plate and find a good group of people to chat with and BOOM the night is over and I haven’t eaten anymore!

  2. Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) said on December 22, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I have noticed that I’m eating a lot more sweets (especially since I decided to make cookies)but am continuing to workout and eat right the rest of the time. I’m sure I will eat many more calories than I need a few days over Christmas – but I also know that the holiday comes to an end soon enough and it is back to normal.
    I agree that “cheat days” can easily lead to binges – I’m sure some can follow but I think I would binge

  3. katie said on December 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    LOVE the last one..and im so glad you shared that you eat what you want..amen girl!

  4. Lauren said on December 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I wouldn’t call it a nutrition vacation, but I’d definitely say I’m not eating as healthy as I normally would. I’m a huge fan of cake and cookies and chocolate, so I’ve been indulging in those, but I still try to keep my three main meals on the right track. Works for me!

  5. Stephanie said on December 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Great post! I totally agree about the “cheat day” concept, hate it & def think it leads to binging and overeating bc you have deprived yourself and now are trying to make up for it. I really think that the key is everything in moderation – even if that slips a bit during the holidays just balance it out with exercise or making sure the rest of your diet stays in tact (aside from all those cookies! ;)) — and to always remember that if you do go overboard, don’t just blow it all by thinking you have ruined your diet… just pick back up where you left off and get back into the healthy eating when you can! 🙂

  6. Peanut Butter Bliss said on December 22, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I never understood cheat days either…why can’t you just eat what you want every day but listen to hunger cues? Little portions go a long way!

  7. Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen said on December 22, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Unfortunately, I used to have that thinking all the time. It wasn’t until recently that I stopped. I’ve been eating a lot better than normal lately, and feeling much better too! Thanks for the great post!

  8. lynn @ the actors diet said on December 23, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    i used to have a “cheat day” but that turned into binge fests. now i have a little something something every single day instead.

  9. Kristen @ Simply Savor said on December 23, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    i definitely think around this time of the the words “well its the holidays” are said wayy to often when it comes to cheating on nutrition, but i just keep in mind to keep everything balanced and it all evens out in the end. great post! happy holidays!

  10. sophia said on December 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Haha, in my motto, everything IS nutritious…as long as it is taken in moderation, of course.

  11. Mommy RD said on December 26, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I used to be the type that if I had one, I had to have 10, because I’d already “blown” it. Now, I have a little dessert every night and I don’t necessarily have much more over the holidays than any other day. So much healthier physically, and mentally.