Why Diet Cheats Set You Back: Don’t Give in

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Never Binge Again" by Glenn Livingston. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Is it okay to have a cheat day when on a food plan? Can diet cheats really set you back?

According to Dr. Glenn Livingston in Never Binge Again, diet cheat days can be harmful to your food plan. When you break your diet to eat an unhealthy meal, your brain makes you feel bad and you tend to give up on your diet.

Here is why Never Binge Again says that you need to stick to your food plan: all day, every day.

Why Diet Cheats Don’t Work

If you’ve tried to lose weight before, you’ve almost certainly felt urges to break your food vows with diet cheats. First you say, “You’ve been eating well for a week, so let’s just have one cheat day.” 

Then you say, “Well since you’ve had one cheat day, that proves you’re weak. You should feel bad about yourself. So let’s go back to our binge eating.”

In the past, you would have thought of these as a natural, rational part of yourself that needed to be listened to. 

Now that you’ve isolated the fat-thinking self to a separate entity, the Pig, you can recognize all such urges as Pig Squeals. These are complaints, feelings, and impulses to get you to binge again. Squeals are all attempts to destroy your goals so the Pig can get what it wants (this is why the Pig cannot be tolerated and is owed nothing but contempt).

Pig Squeals can sound like pretty rational arguments, especially when you’re vulnerable. When you’re hungry and crave something, a lot of things make sense when they shouldn’t.

The Pig doesn’t care about rationality or about your higher goals. Don’t argue with the Pig. Just recognize the Squeal for what it is—a sabotaging of your smarter self—and ignore it. Don’t give in to it or reason with it.

  • That said, since some of the Squeals are pretty reasonable, we’ll cover some responses to some Squeals that will give you ammunition to defeat the Pig.

Since you’ve committed NEVER to binge again, any thought or impulse to binge again must be coming from the Pig. 

Pig Squeal Journal

Because your Pig doesn’t need to be rationalized with, you don’t have to keep a Pig Squeal Journal. If you recognize the Squeal, you can just ignore it.

But writing down Pig Squeals might make you better at detecting them. A simple way to do this is to let the Pig take control of your fingers and type its reasons for eating in the morning, or when you crave something.

Eventually, you’ll realize all Pig Squeals boil down to “it tastes good” or “I want the Food High”—at this point, the Pig Squeals will become less frequent.

Why Diet Cheats Set You Back: Don’t Give in

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Glenn Livingston's "Never Binge Again" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Never Binge Again summary:

  • How to lose weight, stop using social media, exercise more, and work harder
  • How to create a food plan and follow it 100%
  • Why you shouldn't be ashamed of yourself if you make a mistake

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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