We are all inventors,
Each sailing out on a voyage of discovery,
Guided each by a private chart,
Of which there is no duplicate.
The world is all gates,
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was Friday, the end of my workweek, with one patient left to see: Sally. Sally, a lovely freckled faced, of Irish decent, full of life and fervor kinda girl bounced into my office delighted it was Friday as well. She had that giddy smirk, a glint in the eye, as she settled into the couch setting her seat in recline position as if to say; hey, it’s the weekend, let the party begin.
You see, Sally followed a strict eating regiment, that is, until Friday night, where she’d meet up with her boyfriend, as well as a small group of friends, at various restaurants and eat whatever she pleased.
And this Friday was no different.
Sally was chomping at the bit, impatient and eager to get there, avoiding eye contact with me, or even discussing the plan, when gently brought to her attention.
Sally knows I’m not a fan of cheat days. And Sally also knows every Friday she falls into the same trap of cheat day mentality. Cheat-Day is an expectation of eating out of the norm, on purpose, in a conscious state of mind, for one day out of the seven. The idea is to quarantine one day for allowing any and every food of desire to be eaten as one so chooses.
Why am I not on board with a “free” day of eating whatever you want? Because, this thought process turns into something other than the original format. It becomes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, snacking throughout the day on high calorie food—all the foods you think you might have missed.
It’s a “catch up” mentality that ensues.
Also, a food sensitive person, binge eater, or any type of eating disordered person is NOT a candidate for a “cheat-day” mentality. Not ever. Why? Because this group of people, self-included, is chemically charged with any sugary, flour, wheat type of food—and with the cheat day mentality these are the “go to” foods for sure.
Sally’s cheat days originally started with intention to eat free on Sunday. She ate whatever she wanted and then returned promptly on Monday to eating her scheduled foods. This worked fine in the beginning, though against my better judgment.
Sally has a long history of binge-eating disorder—eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, several times a day, week after week, month after month, to the tune of gaining hundreds of pounds. Desperation filtered in when she turned to weight loss surgery, which she was an excellent candidate, and for the most part works a healthy eating regiment, leaving her only twenty pounds from her ideal weight.
All good you say, right? Well, no not so good because Sally has food sensitivity, or to say it bluntly—she is a food addict. When Sally eats sugar, flour, wheat or any type of processed foods she falls off the clean eating cliff and enters the anything goes agenda. Not good. And when she caught the cheat-day wave her weight began to climb a pound here and a pound there putting her at risk of returning to her all high weight, nearing 400 pounds on her 5’4” frame.
So, here comes Friday and there goes Sally with her cheat-day mindset, “but it’s only tonight,” she says with a clenched jaw. “But tonight is Friday Sally and your ‘Cheat Day’ is isolated for Sunday only, right?” Sally waves her hand into the air as if to brush me off as she continues with her happy banter, and not so happy recount of the week.
So it goes…cheat night turns into cheat weekend for weeks on end until the weight inches up high enough to terrify Sally, which then she reins it in and begins to eat healthy, but extremely restricting food. Hmmm, sounds like diet mentality to me. You can see the morphing of a trend of cycle on and off—diet and not diet, to restricting coming into fruition.
Can you relate to cheat day mentality? How’s it working for you? If you don’t agree with something I said I’d love to hear about that too. Please share your experiences, we can all learn from you.
Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander.
Hugs to you…I care
Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.