There’s a lot of controversy around the concept of cheating as it relates to diets, i.e. eating something that is not part of your particular way of eating. Proponents claim that giving yourself permission to indulge once in a while helps you avoid stress and makes it easier to stick to plan. Critics are the ones who play by the rules 100% of the time. I fall somewhere in between.
I do think cheating can help you avoid turning into a neurotic perfectionist, but I also think you should be smart about it. Whatever it is what you call your “diet” and whatever you choose to “cheat” with, there’s no point if the cheater (that’s you) doesn’t benefit. A treat is not a treat if you have to spend the next day in bed.
Our bodies are unique. There’s no way you can generalise, for example, that one cheat day a week will work for everybody. Or it might work for you one week but not the next. IMO, the best way to go about it is to perform an experiment on yourself and learn how your body reacts. This is an example of how to do it:
- Do an elimination diet (no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no sugar, no seed oils, no alcohol, no white potatoes) for a few weeks to reset your body from toxins and inflammation
- Reintroduce “gray area” foods (dairy, white rice, white potatoes, corn, alcohol) one at a time to see how your body reacts
- Aim to eat clean 100% of the time
- Do not plan cheat meals, but let them happen when they happen, staying away from what affects your body the most
Yeah, this takes time and you have to figure it out on your own. It’s a trial and error process. What works for me (some rice, some potatoes, some corn, some double cream, some goat’s cheese, some kefir, lots of butter), may not work for you. But once you know what your body can handle and in which quantities and frequencies, you can relax when you need/choose to eat out of your comfort zone.