Ryan Hall MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator
As a personal trainer one of the biggest issues I had with my clients was trying to get their nutrition under control. I would help them by steering them away from foods that would be detrimental to their goals and provide them with healthy substitutes and new ideas for meals. It never failed that I would have at least one client that would get the great idea of going on some crash diet that restricted what they could eat, when they could eat, what they could drink and how they should view food in general. When I would inform them about how food/calorie restriction can be have a serious negative effect on them, their answer would come back to, ”but it’s perfectly fine because Saturday is my cheat day.” Your WHAT!?! A day that you can eat whatever you want and not completely mess up everything that you have been working towards? Let’s think about this a little. Whether this diet is the be-all-end-all or complete, well…you know, giving yourself an entire day to blow everything you’ve done doesn’t seem like the best idea, does it? This concept wouldn’t work out very well for someone trying to quit smoking; no cigarettes for an entire week and then you can suck ‘em down like they are the only thing keeping you alive for one day.
No matter what you are trying to do with your dietary changes, the biggest thing you are trying to do is break a habit that you have formed over years of eating a certain way. Just as if you were trying to quit smoking, it is a habit that needs to be broken. Letting yourself eat your body weight in pizza, cookies, chips, ice cream, hamburgers, French fries and don’t forget the Diet Coke (you are trying to watch your weight here) will NOT help you break the habits that you have formed. Cheat days will ruin what you are trying to do, period! Has anyone ever heard of the term moderation? Listen, if you are able to change around your diet for the better, you are eating more lean proteins, loading up on veggies and fruits, focusing on moderate amounts of healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil and eating appropriate amounts of healthy grains, go ahead and have that cookie. Just stop at one, not one box! Hey, you had a scoop of ice cream, good for you! It wasn’t the carton like it used to be. A slightly unhealthy treat every once in a while is fine, actually it can be good for you. Don’t believe me? Just think back to that first cheat day on your new diet plan and tell me that one cookie wouldn’t have been healthier than that gorge-fest that you went through. I’m not telling you to eat a piece of cake everyday to keep the doctor away, I’m just saying to not stress out so much over a little treat. Mentally, you’ll be stronger knowing that you can still bake your cake and eat it too.