To cheat or not to cheat. To me this is an easy one. CHEAT! Actually I take that back. Don’t call it cheat, call it FREE. A Free meal or a free day. When I want to get leaner and lose fat I get very strict with my diet, however I never go without a “cheat” or “free” day. On this day (usually Saturday or Sunday) I don’t count calories or portion sizes. I eat anything that I want. The only rule I have is to consume lots of water as I usually do during the week.

There are many opinions on this subject. Some say have a cheat meal, some say don’t cheat at all, others say have 2 or 3 cheat meals during the week. I have tried all of these options and for me, the one day per week works best.

The “good” reasons to add a cheat day

First of all, if you attempt to start a diet or new healthy lifestyle without allowing yourself some freedom, chances are that you will not last long on your diet.

You won’t set yourself up for a binge

Constantly restricting what you eat and depriving yourself is a sure way to end up binging on all the forbidden foods. All it takes is one unusually stressful day at work, one argument with your spouse or any type of stress and you might find yourself ripping through a whole jar of cookies.

If you let yourself eat whatever you like once a week, you won’t end up feeling deprived. It’s much easier to resist that slice of pizza or a couple of cookies when you know you can have one in a couple of days’ time.

You’ll stick to your diet for longer

Most of us are enthusiastic about a new diet for the first couple of weeks … and then the reality sets in. Counting calories, opting for low-fat versions of favourite foods and trying to “be good”gets frustrating after a while. Taking a day off from your diet every week will actually help you stick to it long-term.

You can still enjoy a social life

There’s nothing worse than sitting in a restaurant picking at a salad when everyone else is diving into steaks, burgers and desserts. So make your “day off” a day when you’re out with friends or family . That means you can relax and enjoy yourself without thinking about calories!

Dean Rafferty