Sticking to a healthy eating regime can be a real test of will power, so it’s no wonder that many people indulge in the odd cheat day. After a week of being good and healthy, a couple of treats at the weekend won’t do that much damage after all, right?

Unfortunately, having one or two cheat days after eating healthily and exercising regularly can actually sabotage all of your hard work. We’re not saying you have to cut out treats altogether, as indulging every now and then is a good way to stop healthy eating getting monotonous. However, letting one treat turn into a full cheat day isn’t the best option.

Here are a few things that cheat days can do to your health and impact your diet, which you might want to consider before allowing yourself to slide back into bad habits, even if it is only for 24 hours:

Sugar cravings

If you’ve reduced the amount of sugar in your diet, having a cheat day when you eat a lot of sugary foods can have long-lasting effects. Not only are you likely to suffer from a sugar crash that leaves you feeling tired and irritable, having one sweet treat will increase the likelihood that you’ll crave another one.

This can mean that you end up fighting off sugar cravings all week, which can make it more likely that you’ll give in and indulge again, resulting in a cycle that is hard to break. Rather than cheating with sugar, find sweet alternatives that will feel like a treat, but do not destroy your diet.

Upset gut bacteria

Suddenly eating a lot of processed foods, sugary treats and alcohol can play havoc with your gut bacteria, resulting in upset stomachs and cramps. A weekend of binging on all the things that you deny yourself Monday to Friday is enough to really upset the delicate balance and it can take weeks for gut bacteria to get back to normal.

This really does mean that you’ll end up paying for your indulgence for an extended period of time, so it’s best to avoid cheat days for this reason.

Make you tired

While lying in at the weekends can make you feel tired enough when you need to get back to your routine during the week, eating foods you usually avoid can make this even worse. Cheat days can sap your energy levels, making it difficult for you to focus and wake up. This also means you’re more likely to reach for sugar or caffeine to try and get you going, which are not the best options.

Maintaining a good diet with the odd treat helps you to maintain a good sleep pattern and regulate your energy levels, so you’re less likely to feel sluggish and moody.

Makes you feel guilty

One of the most important things when it comes to healthy eating and maintaining a good diet is to be positive about it. Cheat days can leave you feeling negative and mean that you end up fixating on food a lot more, which isn’t healthy.

You want to focus on how well you’re doing and how much you’re enjoying healthy foods, not thinking about how awful your weekend takeaway made you feel. Stick with regular treats as this will help develop a better relationship with food and ensure you remain positive about the changes you’re making.