How harmful is it to cheat on my diet occasionally?

Joel H. Fuhrman, MD
Family Medicine
Cheating on your diet can be harmful, because the addictive nature of sugar and processed food can pull a person right back into unhealthy eating habits. Watch me explain why you should avoid cheat days.
Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

You don't have to cheat to eat something you enjoy. Lifelong health is achieved by making healthy lifestyle and eating choices. The concept of "cheating" carries a negative connotation and may lead to feelings of guilt and set off a cycle of emotional eating. 

Further, I find that people tend to overeat on pizza, burgers and desserts on cheat days. Try a slice of your favorite pizza and a salad instead. This is a more balanced approach that won't totally sabotage your healthy eating efforts. Instead of the cheat day model, I encourage you to develop a healthy eating plan that allows you to enjoy a small slice of birthday cake on a Tuesday if you want it. 

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Contrary to what you may have heard, a cheat day during a diet is not bad thing. That’s because it allows your body to take a rest from the plan you’ve been sticking to all week and eases restrictions temporarily.

Tons of dieting experts agree that you should build in “cheat days” since too much deprivation can actually lead to more cravings, causing you to break from your diet. In addition, going off your diet once in a while stimulates the thyroid gland and can “wake up” your metabolism. Cheating in a sensible way will help steer you toward success in the long-term.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.