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Episode 196: I Had a Horrible Cheat Day... Now What?!? Part 2

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We've all been there... you're so good all week, avoiding the vending machine, ordering salads for lunch, cooking healthy dinners, saying no to dessert, and then it finally arrives:

Cheat day. 

And you think to yourself...

I deserve this.

It's just one meal. 

I'll get back on plan tomorrow. 

This is the last time I'll have this for at least a week, better make it count. 

And so you get the burger and fries. And the milkshake. And the soda. And the day is already ruined so that night you also order pizza. And pour yourself a glass of wine, or 3. And there was that pint of ice cream in the freezer - you need something sweet after all that savory pizza. 

Finally the day is done and you're laying in bed regretting everything. You feel bloated and uncomfortable. You shame yourself for not having any willpower. And you vow that this cycle won't happen again. 

But here's the thing, that moment of annoyance with yourself won't stop the cycle (I think we've all had too much to drink and swore we'd never drink again only to be back at it 2 days later).

What you do after the cheat day is what will either perpetuate or halt this pattern that's keeping you stuck. 

Click here to go back to last week's podcast to find out the biggest pitfalls to avoid post-binge, or read on for the must-do's! 

1. Backtrack your binge. 

A binge is the last action in a long chain of events. So try to work your way back to the root(s) of it. Was it feeling deprived all week because you're on too restrictive a diet? Was it lack of energy because you slept like crap the night before? Was it getting in a fight with your significant other and food was the easiest way to cope?

When we backtrack and find the patterns that happened before we went full f*ck it with our food, we get better at actually stopping the cycle because we can see when it's starting to form. 

2. Prioritize what will make your body feel good. 

This is a fine line to walk and it's all about the mindset you have going in. For example, if I have a bit of a food bender, the next day (or the next meal) I usually want light foods like smoothies, salads, and lots of veggies. I want to go on a long walk. I want to drink a lot of water. 

But none of this is in an attempt to cleanse my body or repent for my dietary sins. It's an attempt to feel better since eating a bunch of junk generally makes me feel terrible. 

3. Emphasize satisfaction in your non-cheat meals.

This is one of the biggest things missing from the dieting world. If you think you can sustain yourself on grilled chicken and steamed broccoli without eventually going nuts, I have to tell you... it's not going to happen. 

Good-tasting food is too important. It is a major source of joy, pleasure, and bonding in our lives and any diet that doesn't take that into account is unsustainable (and, frankly, miserable). 

Satisfaction could come in a lot of forms. For me, I usually need something starchy to really feel satisfied after a meal which is why if you look at my the dishes I post on Instagram stories you'll almost always see air fryer potatoes. 

You could also get satisfaction from a rich, flavorful sauce. Or from something really spicy. Or from something really meaty. 

The point is, if you enjoy what you eat and you feel satisfied after your meals you'll be less driven to have a f*ck it day come the weekend. 

4. Remember the big picture.

We often get in trouble when we put too much emphasis on one choice. The body and health you have now are not because of one day's choices. They are a culmination of the thousands of choices you've made over the last however many months or years. 

This game of health and wellness is an infinite one, meaning it has no end until we're buried in the ground. So there will be many wins, many losses, and many curve balls along the way. Take it all in stride and ingrain it in your mind that one decision will not make or break you. Your goal is simply to stay in the game and stop giving up. 

5. Ask yourself what coming back to balance would look like for you, and then do that

I often see people trying to match an extreme with an extreme:

I binged, so now I'm going to starve. 

I'm sore from working out so I'm just not going to workout again.

I made one mistake, so I'm just going to quit.

Instead of trying to cancel out any bad behaviors by swinging into the extremes of good behaviors, what if you constantly strived to return to a place of sustainable balance. 

What if when you messed up you just went back to business as usual: eating more whole foods in normal portions, drinking water, moving your body, getting enough sleep, and letting that be what 80% of your life looks like. 

Leaning into those basic habits when you fall down will give you a sense of calm and stability through your journey instead of the rollercoaster ride of all-or-nothing behavior. 


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