Trick and (cheat) treat yourself this October

Cheat days can be good in moderation. (photo illustration Caitlyn Massy | The Collegian)

What junk food in your kitchen seems to call your name as soon as the phrase, “I’m going on a diet” rolls off your tongue? Is it a cheeseburger and fries, ice cream sundae, Cool Ranch Doritos?

What if allowing yourself to indulge in some of your favorite, unhealthy snacks could be an answer to all of your failed attempts at dieting or a healthy lifestyle in the past?

For many college students, maintaining a lifestyle of regular exercise and healthy eating is a huge feat to overcome. The only way some can commit to at least eating healthy throughout the week is the hope of a cheat treat coming on the weekend.

“I really like just chocolate, or anything from the Varsity Donuts truck,” Taylor Boyd, senior in family studies and human services, said.

Jim Thompson, certified professional trainer at Max Fitness, said a planned cheat day is a good thing and would not ruin a weeks worth of progress in the gym.

Knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel or, in other words, something sweet at the end of a veggies and grilled chicken week may work as motivation for some people, but not for everyone.

Grant Gonzalez, personal trainer at the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex, said it is important to know your limitations when it comes to cheat treats.

“It allows you a little bit of flexibility to eat those food that aren’t necessarily the cleanest as long as you don’t go overboard (and) as long as you aren’t having a whole cheat day,” Gonzalez said.

Knowing yourself and what you can handle is half of the battle in deciding if a cheat treat will work best for you. Kathleen Walker, freshman in animal sciences and industry, said she does not believe in “cheating” when it comes to her healthy-eating lifestyle.

“I think that cheat days are fooling your body into thinking they can have those carbs and then you start to crave them,” Walker said. “Your sweet things will become your fruits and your protein shakes.”

For others though, the satisfaction of a cheat treat is too good to pass up.

“It’s definitely harder to get back into a routine of eating healthy after a weekend of good, unhealthy food,” Austin Tiemeyer, junior in agribusiness, said. “It’s just so good, I don’t know if it’s worth it.”

In the process of deciding whether or not you can handle the freedom of a cheat treat on your road to a healthy lifestyle, you might want to listen to the expert advice.

“Try to buy food in smaller portions,” Gonzalez said. “If your weakness is ice cream, buy the smallest size container you can – that way you are not tempted to eat an entire gallon.”

Thompson emphasizes the importance of not going too far. Just because you blow your diet by eating too much pizza doesn’t mean you should keep going with the brownies and ice cream afterwards.

“If you know you are going to a party on Friday night, work out extra hard on Friday afternoon,” Thompson said.

Having a planned cheat treat may be exactly what you need to incorporate into your diet to maintain a balanced and realistically-healthy lifestyle as a college student.