Do you believe in ‘cheat days?’

I don’t. I can’t; and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first let’s define cheat days, or cheat meals, or cheat moments – whatever phrase works for you. A cheat anything in the nutritional world is about eating a certain way for at least 80 – 90 percent of the time, and then indulging on whatever food is currently pushing your craving button for the other 10 – 20 percent. Ideally, having a cheat (fill in the blank) is designed to keep cravings from welling up and sabotaging your nutritional goals. Now I understand how it’s supposed to work; but here’s why it could never work for me.

Let’s define the word ‘cheat’ shall we?

If you look up cheat in the dictionary, whether you are using it as a noun, verb or wp-image-1053970483adjective as its used in this scenario, the defining words are all negative. We have: dupe, mislead, trick, violate, elude, deceive, swindle; or as nouns: imposter, fraud. “Cheat implies conducting matters fraudulently … ” ( There’s nothing positive about the word cheat, no matter how many definitions you read through. It’s a word that implies deceit, ill-designed to offer a modicum of good feelings for the person who merely wants to break his/her nutritional routine and indulge her taste buds with a bit of decadence. And for me, the word cheat also implies that I’m dieting – another don’t.

Why I don’t and I can’t ‘cheat’

As I mentioned earlier, cheating implies that if I decide I want these Jumpin’ Jack Cheese Doritos – all week I’ve been focused on veggies, fruits, no processed foods, no fried foods, and now I’d like to have some of these. In nutrition-speak, this day I’m doing this


Doritos Jumpin Jack Cheese

would be my cheat day, right? Okay, so at what point do I feel good about cheating? WHAT I’m eating is already a negative because if it weren’t, there’d be no need to have a cheat day. How does the word cheat – with all its negative definitions – make me feel good about succumbing to my craving? How is all that negativity going to make me feel good about myself?

That’s why I can’t believe in the cheat phenomenon. I don’t understand how you can take a word that has nothing but negative definitions and turn it into something positive. I’m an emotional eater and I need a positive mindset. I don’t want to think of myself as a cheat, a fraud. I don’t know how I can feel good eating what I want on a day whose very definition I feel is designed to make me feel bad.

So, dieting and consequently having cheat days is not an option for me. I prefer a more simplified nutritional regimen. I eat for life as a vegetarian, often dipping my fork into vegan dishes and living by the portion-control rule for everything else, except meat. So, if I decide that I want a bag of Munchos, I get a bag of Munchos. If I decide that I want pancakes drizzled in syrup, I make myself pancakes drizzled in syrup. No cheat days needed.

Guilt-free eating is so much better for me.

Do you have cheat days? Does that concept work for you?




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