Tags: DigIn, DigIn Magazine, magazine, dietitian tips, nutrition

RDs Don’t Have Cheat Days: Enjoy All Foods in Moderation

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Diet culture runs deep in our society and many feel like they’re trying to hold ground against it. There’s no need to be sneaky with the foods you eat.

Unfortunately, many programs aiming to help people get to a healthier way of eating are simply reinforcing a disordered relationship with food by incorporating “cheat days.” This concept is easy to latch on to because anyone can do something for a short period of time, right? The harm isn’t in what you’re eating on a cheat day necessarily (unless you are binge eating), but what concepts you’re feeding your brain.

A cheat day sets up the dynamic of good and bad behavior:

Be a “good” boy or girl for ‘x’ number of days, and then you get to be how you really want to be (or “bad” in the eyes of the program). Whoever said you were bad for eating food?

If you’re following an eating or exercise routine that incorporates a cheat day, you may want to look elsewhere. That, or make a few tweaks to the meal plan to be more balanced. Instead of “cheating” one day a week, give yourself permission to incorporate all foods, in moderate amounts, every day.

If there are certain foods you find you can’t be moderate with, dig a little deeper to uncover the reason why. For example, is the brownie recipe so tasty that you simply want more of it?

Figure out the why, and own it—with love. Stop telling yourself you are less than because you like eating more than one brownie. And if you find yourself over indulging every night, you may need to dig even further for the true why.

In the end, remember that food is meant to nourish and be enjoyed. It’s not meant to be used as a weapon to keep yourself from meeting your full potential in health and happiness. There are no cheat days for registered dietitians…nor should there be for you.

Published 3/3/2021