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Is it okay to have a cheat day and still lose weight?

Photo: Jennifer Causey

After all, you deserve a break—a healthy one!

Yes. In fact, having a regularly scheduled cheat day each week can actually be good for weight loss by preventing binges, reducing cravings, providing a mental break from dieting, and boosting metabolism—if it’s done in a healthy way. By healthy way, I mean using it as a day when you give yourself a break from measuring every portion and counting calories and allowing yourself a little leeway to enjoy a favorite food or two. You still consume plenty of water, and try to get fruits and vegetables in, but in a more relaxed way. What’s not considered healthy (or good for weight loss) is to use a cheat day as a time when you go to extremes with eating or binges.

There’s no pressure to add a cheat day. In fact, most don’t want to or feel they need to their first few weeks of a diet. But when the newness wears off and motivation starts lacking or a plateau hits, adding a cheat day may help.

If “cheating” scares you, then have a cheat meal instead. Plan it for a meal each week when you’re able to relax, like every Friday night or Sunday brunch, so you can fully enjoy and savor it. The diet and lifestyle changes you’ve adopted will help guide your cheat meal and keep you from going overboard, but it’s also helpful to plan your meal ahead. And, if you do mess up and cheat too much, get right back on track, and use it as a way to learn how to make better choices on your next cheat day.