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Is it Okay to have a cheat day?

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  • paperpuddingpaperpudding Member Posts: 6,871 Member Member Posts: 6,871 Member
    As a side question, I have noticed that many people bank calories through the week to save for the weekend. Why? Do you eat differently on the weekend than you do during the rest of the week for some reason? Or you're just saving up and planning 'treats' for yourself on days that are more leisurely? I guess I don't understand this concept. I do know that some people let themselves sleep later or stay up later on the weekend, even though 'they' say you're supposed to go to bed and wake up roughly the same time every day. So somehow these days are treated differently? I guess having been retired for many years makes me forget how these days might be different!!


    I work on weekdays so I eat the same quick breakfast, take a similar packed lunch and eat a home cooked dinner.

    I rarely go out for meals during the week.

    On weekends I might have a few alcoholic drinks and go out to a cafe for coffee and cake or out to dinner or get a pizza to eat in front of the tellie or buy snacky things like hot chips while at my sports club.

    Things that cost more calories than my daily allowance -so good to have a bit banked ahead to allow for that.

  • mylittlerainbowmylittlerainbow Member Posts: 782 Member Member Posts: 782 Member
    Ah. Since I haven't socialized with friends for well over a year and haven't gone inside a restaurant in all that time either, my life is completely confined to the meals I make for myself and the occasional takeout food that I carefully consider and then log. So all my days are the same. Thanks.
  • Jenpec98Jenpec98 Member, Premium Posts: 53 Member Member, Premium Posts: 53 Member
    I personally prefer the term "treat meal" because in all reality, if you are going to eat off plan, you really should just eat off plan one meal, and then go back to your regular schedule programming. Treat yourself, have some pizza, or whatever, and go back to your planned meals.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,858 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,858 Member
    Zyvi wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Zyvi wrote: »
    My opinion on cheat days is I don't think someone should eat more than maintenance on days they deem as "cheat" or "treat" days. If we want to build healthy habits, we have to learn what our limits are and adhere to them.

    Why?

    when I was losing, my allowance was 1460 - my maintenance allowance is 1710.

    If I ate, say, 1360 for 6 days that gives me an extra 600 by end of week so I could eat 2360 on the 7th day - well over 1710.

    my average is still on target and I am still 'learning what my limits are and adhering to them' on a weekly average.

    as Indeed I have - since I use same system in maintenance - but of course now on an average of 1710.

    I don't disagree with you. Your plan definitely works numbers-wise. I also shouldn't have said "someone", I should have specified myself.

    Planned over-indulgence (cheat day) is not healthy for me. There's a reason I reached the points I have and over-indulgence is obviously a huge part of it. For myself, the right way to do this is to hold myself accountable (via logging), keep a daily deficit, and listen to my body -- go into maintenance mode when needed (which is basically what happened in April of this year).

    Here's the sentence directly following the one you quoted:
    Zyvi wrote: »
    That said, I also don't think that never over indulging is an unrealistic expectation -- so over eating during cheat/treat days could help teach us valuable lessons about how to recover from them.
    The difference between this and what you said is instead of recovering from over-indulging, you seem to plan for it or excuse it with the previous 6 days of deficits.

    IMO, part of the difference is deeper in the thought patterns. (Note: I'm not saying you need to change your thought patterns. I'm saying I don't think you're really understanding mine . . . not that that's your responsibility, either. 🙂 I'm commenting because I think seeing both of our perspectives clearly can be a help to folks who are still sorting out how they want to think about this stuff, as well as how they want to do it logistically.)

    You are characterizing eating over maintenance calories on particular days as "over-indulging" and the banking strategy as "excusing" it. To my mind, that implies some value judgement, one I don't share.

    What I'm saying, and I think some others may also be, is that for me there's no moral question involved here. It's just food. I need to pay attention to my food consumption over time for my health's sake, but I seriously dislike turning that into what feels *to me* like some kind of melodramatic morality play. If I eat over maintenance calories, in a context of good nutrition and a healthy body weight, it's not "over-indulging", it's just eating different amounts at different times, value neutral.

    I agree that there can be negative or destructive overall eating patterns, ones that increase health risk in various ways, for example. Value judgements may enter into it, in that context. (If I start regaining weight into an unhealthy zone, or accept seriously sub-par nutrition as an overall eating pattern over time when I could afford better, I will consider that undesirable behavior, in myself. )

    But yes, different strategies work for different people, and I think it's useful to understand that the context may be entirely different value systems and different relationships with foods. That's part of what makes life interesting, in a positive sense. I can understand why you might think as you do, and I don't consider that wrong, insofar as it affects your personal eating behavior.

    Personally, from my own perspective, I don't have cheat days, I don't over-indulge, I don't feel guilt or shame about eating, I don't excuse. Those thought patterns are unproductive, for me. I prefer a more "neutral science fair experiment" perspective.

    I shoot for a reasonable balance among many factors, including healthy body weight, nutrition, energy level, enjoyment/happiness, affordability, practicality, social connection, and more. When it works out really well, that seems like a complicated but fun game at which I've won. When it doesn't work as well, I look for a different strategy.

    The quote I referenced had an example of deficits throughout the week with a day where one could consume in excess of maintenance on the 7th. I understand that different words elicit different feelings and tbh I thought "over-indulging" was only descriptive.

    I used the word "excuse" because that's what I did all last year. I would maintain a deficit throughout the week and then use that deficit to excuse an overly unrestricted weekend. At the end of the year I was up 10.1 pounds. This time around, maintenance is my limit but constant deficit is my goal.

    I am not sure where *melodramatic morality play* comes from. TBH when I read the quoted part of my reply and saw the "I don't think that someone...", I lol'd -- who do I think I am to be saying something like that lmao, I have no authority to decide what people should or shouldn't do. Pure silliness. I definitely should have phrased it in a way that made it clear these types of days don't work for me and I should have stated why.

    To the bolded: I thought (hoped) that would be reasonably clear, given where I put emphasis in the phrasing of my post: That's how it subjectively *feels* to me if I start thinking in terms of overdoing, excuses, guilt, compensation, "making up for", etc. I'm not saying anyone else does or should feel that way. It just doesn't work for me.

    I'm a pretty old person (65), so I've gone through many different iterations in how I think about food, eating, body image, etc. In this phase of life, I like things to be calm (calm lives in different habits for different people!), I like my eating (and other things where possible) to be enjoyable, and I keep increasing in understanding what does/doesn't work for me. I enjoy hearing from others what does/doesn't work for them personally, and why . . . especially if their outlook is different. I think sharing those perspectives can help others, who will also have diverse approaches that work best for them, but may not have figured out yet what those are.

    If I try to balance calories strictly and exactly every day - a thing I came closer to doing while losing in 2015-16, when I had fewer calories to work with, compared to now, in maintenance - that's more obsessive feeling, more anxiety-creating *for me*. Others have different personalities, will experience it differently.

    I think personalizing one's strategies to one's individual strengths, preferences, limitations, etc., is a smart way to play, in general. Everyone isn't like me, doesn't need to think like me. If someone has a cognitive frame and habits that work for them, I think that's great, sincerely. I do resist the implication that one person's preferred conceptualization and habits are necessarily going to work for everyone. (My current habits may not even work for *me* forever!)

    Not accusing you, here, but as a generality, I think the plethora of "eat this specific way" "think this particular way about food and eating" in the blogosphere and our culture overall can be an obstacle to people who want to manage their weight, can contribute to some people feeling like they're bad or broken when a supposed "one true way" doesn't work for them. We see posts here struggling with that kind of stuff - the "don't weigh daily", "must eat low carb", etc., when people perceive them as supposed universal truths. (There are some universal truths in the sense of being sound hard science, of course.)

    The post that started this thread (taken alone, without subsequent clarifications by OP) feels a little bit influenced in that direction, as if there are strict rules that govern how to manage a meal/day of over-goal eating, and that if one does it that "right" way, the effects will be good, otherwise they will be bad. (There were also IMO some implied factual misunderstandings that are common blogosphere-ish myths, but I commented on that on page 1.)

    I'm sorry if the words I used to refer to my own feelings and internal state were offensive. That *is* how it feels, though, to me . . . a feeling I don't expect others to share.

    I get that it's hard to phrase things in a clear and neutral, but not over-generalized way. Current casual American English (and maybe other variants) tends to use "you" phrasing (or equivalent) in cases where "one" or "someone" or "some people" might actually be a clearer representation of their actual intended meaning. (Some of the alternatives, like "one", can even come across as stilted, pedantic.) I struggle with phrasing things neutrally, and often don't succeed, despite trying.
  • paperpuddingpaperpudding Member Posts: 6,871 Member Member Posts: 6,871 Member
    I don't disagree with you. Your plan definitely works numbers-wise. I also shouldn't have said "someone", I should have specified myself.

    Yes that makes a huge difference to what you are saying.

    Saying this or that works for me, I need to do this or that - is WAY different to "someone shouldn't..." which comes across as a general statement about what people should do, not about what works for you individually
  • paperpuddingpaperpudding Member Posts: 6,871 Member Member Posts: 6,871 Member
    The quote I referenced had an example of deficits throughout the week with a day where one could consume in excess of maintenance on the 7th. I understand that different words elicit different feelings and tbh I thought "over-indulging" was only descriptive.

    I used the word "excuse" because that's what I did all last year. I would maintain a deficit throughout the week and then use that deficit to excuse an overly unrestricted weekend. At the end of the year I was up 10.1 pounds. This time around, maintenance is my limit but constant deficit is my goal.


    Yes you referenced my post - which didnt describe over indulging at all, it described in number terms, using my own numbers as an example, how one can eat over maitenance one day and still be on average target.

    At no point was I describing 'an overly unrestricted weekend' :*
  • wunderkindkingwunderkindking Member Posts: 1,003 Member Member Posts: 1,003 Member
    Jenpec98 wrote: »
    I personally prefer the term "treat meal" because in all reality, if you are going to eat off plan, you really should just eat off plan one meal, and then go back to your regular schedule programming. Treat yourself, have some pizza, or whatever, and go back to your planned meals.


    or consider pizza, whatever, as part of your planned meals - when I eat pizza, have a few alcoholic drinks, go out for coffee and cake (the type of things I do which cost more calories than usual) it isnt off plan or deviating from regular scheduling - it is part of the plan to include such things.

    Yeah. While I don't calorie bank I will absolutely pre-log several pieces of pizza or my fast food or cake or whatever - or have it without preplanning, log it, and eat around it.

    WHAT I eat has changed basically not at all between now and being obese. It's more quantity and frequency.
  • rewairrewair Member Posts: 2 Member Member Posts: 2 Member
    Let us say your maintenance calories are 2000 a day. Let us say you had a cheat day and ate 3200 calories, you are not going to gain fat/weight by overeating 1200 calories on one day. No worries. I have found over the years if I do have a so called cheat day, which isn't a day, more like one meal I generally feel like crap after I eat it, therefore I don't do it much. Went out for Mexican last week, ate lots of chips and salsa and a big fat Chimi- heart burn city and bloated from what I can estimate to be around 200 carbs in one meal!
    edited May 7
  • meeppeepneepmeeppeepneep Member Posts: 56 Member Member Posts: 56 Member
    My goal is to eat at or under maintenance. On weekends I've been closer to maintenance, on weekdays I try to aim at 300 to 500 calorie deficit. In addition the weekends tend to be less healthy than weekdays.
    edited May 7
  • vanmepvanmep Member Posts: 385 Member Member Posts: 385 Member
    To me, phrasing is super important. When I first started out, my goal was just to lose some pounds. But I quickly started to realize that the mental aspect of weight loss carried far more weight (pardon the pun) than I ever knew. Challenging my subconscious thought patterns, my language and the mind games I played with myself is far more important than counting calories and going for a run. So I refuse to call it a cheat day - because for me, there are all kinds of implications and subconscious beliefs behind that word cheat. And I’m trying to change how I think.
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