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How to deal with a "cheat night" when following a diet?

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Imagine this:

Because you read my last article (A Dietitian's 10 Rules to Eliminate Abdominal Fat), you've been diligently sticking to your healthy eating plan for weeks, making nutritious choices and watching your portion sizes.

Then, out of the blue, your friends invite you to a pizza and wine night.

What do you do? Is it time for a cheat night? And how to deal with a cheat night when following a diet?

As a registered dietitian, I understand the delicate balance between nourishing your body and satisfying your cravings.

I always share a key message with my clients:

It's not the current meal that leads to weight gain, but rather the one that follows. This means that you can balance out an indulgent meal with a healthier one, by making choices that steer clear of starch.

Here's a closer look at cheat nights and how they can fit into your overall dietary strategy:

Cheat night with friends

1. The Psychology Behind Cheat Nights:

  • The Mental Break: Dieting can sometimes feel like a never-ending marathon. Cheat nights offer a mental respite, a brief escape from the regimented routine. It's a night when you don't have to think twice about that extra slice of pizza or that scoop of ice cream.

2. The Physiology of Moderation:

  • Metabolic Trick: Surprisingly, occasional indulgences can give your metabolism a gentle nudge. When you provide your body with a slight calorie surplus during a cheat night, it can signal that you're not in prolonged calorie deprivation mode, potentially helping to stave off metabolic slowdown.

3. The Social Connection:

  • A Bonding Experience: Picture this: You're at a family gathering, and your aunt serves her famous homemade apple pie. Sharing that pie becomes more than just a culinary experience; it's a way to bond with loved ones and create lasting memories.

4. Dietitian's Tips for a Successful Cheat Night:

  • Portion Control: Instead of an all-out feast, practice portion control. Savor each bite, and stop when you're satisfied. Remember, it's about enjoyment, not excess.

  • Strategic Timing: Plan your cheat night around a social event or a day when you've been particularly active. This can help your body better handle the extra calories.

  • Balanced Choices: If I were not human I would tell you that even during a cheat night, you should aim for balance, i.e. include some veggies or lean proteins alongside those indulgent treats. But who eat pizza and veggies on the side? So forget that.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking water during and after your cheat night can help mitigate the effects of sodium and sugar on your body.

  • Active Recovery: The day after, consider a 1 hour workout session to get back on track and boost your metabolism. And avoid carbs (corn, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes...). See our workout session here.

5. The Art of Moderation:

Think of it as a Symphony: Just like a great symphony, a balanced diet is about harmony. A cheat night is one note in the composition of your overall nutrition. It's not about perfection; it's about enjoying the melody of life while staying on the path to health.

In the world of nutrition, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to cheat nights. It's about finding what works for you and aligning it with your goals and lifestyle. Remember, you're not cheating; you're indulging wisely. It's all part of the beautiful, diverse, and delicious journey of nourishing your body and your soul.

So, if that pizza night with friends is calling your name, don't feel guilty, embrace it. Enjoy the laughter, the conversations, and yes, even that extra slice. Your dietitian-approved cheat night can be a moment of balance, pleasure, and a well-deserved break from the everyday routine.


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Sep 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

What about dealing with a cheat night when NOT following a diet? 👩‍❤️‍👨

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haha! That's what we call "life without borders!"


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Sep 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.


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Thank you!!!!😇

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