Cheating on…what exactly? Cheat days seem to imply that food is a game, or a test, or a relationship. It is none of those things.
Food is just food. Just an inanimate object, chillin’ on a plate. It doesn’t have moral goodness or badness. It doesn’t make rules, or punish you for breaking them. It is not a daily test that you can pass or fail. You are not in a relationship with it, because one of you is a sentient human. The other is an inanimate object, chillin’ on a plate.
The relationship you need to worry about is the one between your brain and your body. Are your conscious choices serving your physical health? Are subconscious societal messages affecting the way you listen to your innate hunger cues?
A cheat day is not some admirable ideal of healthy moderation. It is a sign that you are unable to moderate in a healthy way. Not unwilling — unable.
If you depend on the promise of cheat foods to make it through each day without bingeing, chances are your hunger and fullness chemicals are out of whack. Once your body experiences the highs and lows of diet days vs. cheat days, it is a cycle you will need to actively break.
Like so many aspects of diet culture, cheat days are played off like some shared human experience we can all have a chuckle about. Unfortunately, I have zero sense of humor here, because restriction just isn’t funny. It perpetuates a dangerous myth that dieting is a natural part of life, and our bodies and minds pay the price.