I have read hundreds of blogs, read dozens of diet books and been on many diets in my life. The worst diet I have ever been on involved eating olive oil periodically throughout the day to kill appetite. I gained about five pounds on that one.
Based on all this experience, let me tell you about the single worst diet tip of all time. I hate it, and I think it is counterproductive to permanent weight loss. Want to know what it is?
The worst diet tip of all time is….(drum roll)…..allowing yourself a CHEAT DAY, which means that for one day a week you can eat anything you want. I guess you are probably thinking, “Now there is something I can do!”
I am pretty sure I know what you are thinking. You are planning your first Saturday cheat day, right? It could be a large loaded pizza with extra cheese inside the crust, on top or anywhere else cheese can be put on a pizza. (Probably double meat also, because why not?) If you enjoy beer, you might need two or three to wash that gigantic pizza down. On the way home you stop and get a jumbo bag of M&Ms. You eat those until you get home, then switch over to the double fudge, mile high cake that you bought from the bakery the day before, preparing for your cheat day. Cheat days come around only one day a week, so you say, “What the Hell?” and you pull out the heavenly hash ice cream and plop a large scoop on top of your cake. You have had the time of your life consuming 6500 calories for the day.
Sunday morning you get up and start planning your next cheat day for the following Saturday. Maybe next week is a bucket of fried chicken, a supersize order of onion rings and a box of chocolate cream filled doughnuts. You can hardly wait. This is the greatest diet ever!
To me, having a cheat day makes as much sense as:
- Giving an alcoholic a bottle of Gray Goose Vodka
- Giving someone who has quit smoking a pack of Marlboros.
- Taking someone with a gambling problem to the Kentucky Derby.
- Taking a cheating husband to a brothel.
- Teaching a new tax loop hole to an income tax cheater.
- Giving a drug addict heroin.
- Taking a shoplifter to Macy’s with an oversized purse and loose clothing that has multiple pockets.
I guess I could keep listing diabetics, kleptomaniacs and other people with problems and addictions, but that would be insensitive and in poor taste, so I won’t.
So to summarize why I do not believe in CHEAT DAYS:
- We need to try to build a lifetime eating plan that we can live with forever and stop the diet cycle for good.
- We need to learn to eat moderately so we can enjoy all of the food we love.
- We need to learn to eat slowly, stopping when satisfied, and avoiding the feeling of fullness forever.
- We need to change our destructive eating behaviors over time and develop new healthy eating habits.
- We need to build our self-esteem and confidence from every positive incremental change we learn and practice.
Do you find it ironic and maybe moronic to choose a diet where you can cheat one day a week? I surely do. It certainly won’t help accomplish any of the goals listed above.
Let me give you a simple alternative of something you can live with forever. Eat any food in the world you want, any time, at any meal. Just do it in moderation, and do your best to stay within your goal calorie range for the day. If you are human and make a mistake, just compensate the very next day by eating a little less, and exercising a little more.
And, by the way, cheat days, besides being counterproductive, are very expensive over time. The money wasted on excessive fattening food each week could be better spent on reducing debt, and paving the way to being skinny and debt free.
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Martin Sher, Co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections® is on a mission to help 5 million people lose weight and be debt free.
Martin is past president of ACA International, and author of the Collector’s Pledge — hundreds of thousands of collectors all over the world have signed this unique document committing to treat people with dignity and respect.