London, UK -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/23/2014 -- The so called ‘cheat day’ has become a topic of heated dispute among fitness enthusiasts, healthy living experts, and chronic dieters. Whilst many are promoting the concept as a way to boost metabolism and give oneself a break from dieting, others are claiming that it can destroy weeks of clean eating and have harmful effects on health.
Certified Dietitian Nutritionist and Watchfit expert Bonnie Giller resolves the debate by urging people to ask themselves 7 crucial questions before leaping into the cheat day binge eating fiasco.
The first thing one must consider is what they perceive as a cheat day. For some this may mean having dessert or a few cookies throughout the day, while for others this may suggest overindulging in a fast food restaurant, ending it all with a cup of ice cream. The first scenario may not have much of an influence on one’s health or weight loss, but this certainly isn’t relevant for the second scenario.
The next question Bonnie Giller points the reader’s attention to is the amount of control one possesses not to turn a cheat day into a cheat week. She gets back to the science of balanced eating, which consists of various interrelated physiological and psychological factors. The former have to do with the two hunger hormones Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin is the one, signaling hunger to the brain, while Leptin is the hormone, signaling satiety. In a cheat day scenario, when excessive amounts of fatty and sugarly foods are consumed, the functions of these two hormones are disrupted, which means it is very easy to get into a downward spiral of cheat weeks and months of harmful eating.
The third important factor the Watchfit expert explores are trigger foods. These are foods a person doesn’t seem to have control over, as they are often tied to emotional feelings. These can also be foods people usually turn for comfort during times of depression or excessive amounts of stress. The nutritionist reminds that an individual should explore themselves from a psychological point of view and define the reasons behind particular food choices. This will help one predict the harm that a cheat day may cause – if food is being used as a way to deal with certain difficulties in life, it is more likely that a cheat day will turn into a binge eating scenario, which is the prerequisite of an eating disorder.
The next piece of advice the nutritionist provides takes into account another psychological aspect of eating – mindfulness. The fourth question a person, considering a cheat day must ask themselves is whether they will be able to eat mindfully. Mindful eating is about appreciating and taking the most out of your food, which is also a sign of inner peace and control. A mindful individual is more likely to have a mindful ‘cheat day’ which is not likely to have detrimental effects on weight loss goals or health.
The fifth question one must ask oneself is how they would feel after a cheat day – whether a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment will prevail, or rather such of guilt and self-hatred.
Next comes the full awareness of the effects of a cheat day on one’s body. If a person has made the decision to follow a healthy eating regime, this has already started changing the body’s hormonal level and enzyme production. It also means that some positive changes have started prevailing, like building muscle, strengthening bone, creating more mitochondria in cells to improve cellular metabolism, and transporting more oxygen throughout the bloodstream. A cheat day would interrupt all these processes and can even prevent the body from ever getting used to the new, healthy lifestyle.
The final question one has to ask is whether they will be able to have a controlled cheat meal, or they should avoid it altogether. An honest evaluation of one’s situation and personal traits is important if one is serious about adopting new healthy mind and body habits.
The nutritionist ends with the conclusion that it is a healthier, smarter decision both from a psychological and physiological point of view is to avoid cheat days. Instead, eat all foods that a person wants to eat, following their hunger signals in a controlled manner. Eliminating ‘forbidden foods’ from one’s menu removes the psychological power food may have one oneself, helping them focus on other things and achieve a balanced lifestyle.
WatchFit is a health and wellness web platform with an expanding library of top-quality material provided by athletes, coaches and experts across various topics related to health, fitness performance and diet. Watchfit has recently launched a free app, providing entire plans by internationally renowned experts, Olympic medalists, and celebrity trainers, covering all fitness and dietary aims and goals.
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