About seven years ago, Tim Ferris wrote a blog post called How to Lose 20 pounds of fat in 30 Days without Doing any Exercise. And here in San Francisco, Tim’s Slow Carb dieting became all the rage. Lots of people were finding lots of success on it.
But… Not my clients.
When Tim’s slow carb diet blew up I suddenly had lots of clients who had great recovery and been abstinent from bingeing for months or years fall back into full relapses. I’m writing about it now because recently, I’ve gotten a lot of emailed questions from people asking me my stance on cheat days.
My stance is this: Not if you have an eating disorder and not if you used to have an eating disorder.
I want you to get out of this mindset “It works for everyone else, why can’t it work for me?”
First off, it doesn’t work for everyone else. Different things work for different people, but for those who are dealing with an eating disorder, having cheat days doesn’t work. Cheat days become binge days. It’s like this, if you were recovering from heroin addiction, would it be okay for you to have one moderate heroin day? When you just shot up maybe three times a day? Probably not. You’d probably OD. Well when you have binge eating disorder, food is your drug and cheat days will probably cause you to binge, to OD. As we know, big binges can sometimes be slippery slopes and they are difficult to shake off the next day. You know that bingey/bulimia party next day hangover I’m talking about.
So, although I have a penchant for Tim and all of his eccentricities and his self-experimentation, I’d give cheat days a thumbs down to people who are recovering from EDs. It seems ideal doesn’t it? You get the best of both worlds, but in my experience, I’ve found that many, many of my clients found it difficult to recover from cheat days.