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My thoughts on cheatday/food challenge videos on Youtube

I’ll start off this post by saying that, yes.. i do infact watch cheatday and food challenge videos on YouTube.

Not as often as i used to… mostly because the majority of those types of videos include burgers, bacon and so much meat that i find it hard to watch. But second, i don’t want to focus so much on food, so instead i try to watch non food related youtube videos.

I have always found cheat day videos and food challenge videos such as 10 000kcal challenge or 120 nugget challenge etc fascinating to watch. And i don’t even know why…. but considering that MukBang videos (i.e when people sit and eat infront of the camera) are extremely popular, there must be something about watching other people eat that humans like.

I have myself wanted to attempt a 10 000kcal challenge in the past – i feel like i could do it. However with a past of an eating disorder both restrictive as well as binging and purging, i don’t think i want to force myself to eat past comfort. Not to mention that forcing myself to eat 10 000kcal could easily resemble/bring back memories of binging/uncontrollable binge episodes.

And that brings me to the reason i am writing this post. 

This weekend i was watching a cheat day video and got about 5 minutes into the video before i began to think…. This is so strange and so unhealthy. Eating 8 donuts for breakfast? Followed by pizza, burger, chocolate, ice cream with extra everything etc 

Sure, one day of eating a surplus of calories or having a filled cheat day isn’t going to make you unhealthy or make you gain any long lasting weight. But when i see accounts that have full food cheat days it just makes me think… “what are they doing to their body, and that can’t be healthy.”

I do need to add, that normal people can have days that can be considered “cheat days”, where you might start your day with pancakes with extra syrup, cream and chocolate and then maybe have pizza for lunch and burger and fries for dinner… but that might just be a special day and you wouldn’t call it a cheat day or force yourself to eat food.

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I have mixed thoughts about cheat days….

Because 1) i think it can be inspiring/motivating for people in eating disorder recovery to realise that it is ok to eat all types of food. That you can have a day where you just eat pizza, fries, ice cream etc and you won’t necessarily gain weight because of it.

But on the other side, it shows a very unhealthy way of eating and resembles binging alot. Infact, some youtube accounts that do food challenges and cheat days, there could be an underlying eating disorder, or atleast food disorder. Doing frequent full cheat days can’t be healthy for your body, even if the person might not gain any lasting weight, all the extreme excess food still affects the cells in their body. Increased blood sugar, increased fatty acids in their blood, maybe increased cholesterol for the day. For a healthy person those levels will just go back to normal within a few days, but for someone who might already have too high levels of fat or insulin then it can be dangerous/more unhealthy.

From a nutrition point of view, i don’t think full cheat days are so healthy. Though treatmeals can definitely be healthy both physically and mentally, and helps with balance. I.e being too strict with your food and only eating “so called healthy foods” isn’t always healthy. And the body can only really absorb so much nutrients and energy, so if you eat example 8 000kcal, you might only absorbed 6 000 of them, as well as your metabolism speeds up a little and you might feel that you are more energetic/do more activity or small movements which you might not usually do. And this is the bodies way of creating balance and maintaining a healthy weight. However the food you put into your body has an effect, whether it is absorbed or not.

 

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Not to mention that having frequent, huge cheat days might lead you to stretch your stomach size. Of course this doesn’t happen overnight or from just one cheat day… but the people who eat crazy volume/huge amounts of food, they can do that because they have stretched their stomach size. People who struggle with binge eating disorder can end up stretching their stomach size in the long term and that leads to 1) it takes alot more food and volume to feel full, 2) normal sized portions don’t fill you up, 3) hormones can be off so you don’t feel hunger and fullness as a normal person.

And hormones play a huge roll in weight mainteance as well as hunger and fullness feelings/signals. So if people are constantly on restrictive diets and then eating huge cheat meals, it is going to cause some chaos with those hormones and signals. (Not to mention, if someone is very overweight or underweight/very little body fat, that can also cause chaos with your hormones and hunger/fullness feelings). If someone is restricting and then having big cheat meals, it can make it alot harder for your body to find and maintain its healthy set point… or the persons healthy set point could increase over time.

Not only do i think that too frequent FULL cheat days can be negative physically i think they can also be unhealthy mentally.

However, i also think that watching too many food videos can also put far too much focus and attention on food – when there is already such a huge focus on food in todays society. And yes.. i am part of that. I have a food instagram and a food blog and write about nutrition, so i am part of putting focus on food. 

I used to be a fan of cheat day/food challenge videos, but not so much anymore.

Each to their own and everyone can eat what they want and how much they want. I don’t have a perfect diet and i have days that i can eat several thousand calories. But i guess i don’t like the term “cheat day”, and i personally feel that a full cheat day – whether it is once a week or once month, can’t be super healthy.

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But that is just MY opinion. Everyone is different. I personally believe in the “small treats when you need them” type of lifestyle. Whereas for others they prefer to be super “strict” with their diet 6 days a week and then have a treatmeal once a week… and that’s their choice and what works for them.

I know some people have written to me saying that they can’t eat just one row of chocolate, they eat the whole bar and that’s why they can’t have small treats several times a week. And i understand, i have been there…. i have gone through binging and purging and where i haven’t been able to stop myself from eating. (I will share a post with advice and links about this topic).

So many people have messed up and unhealthy relationship with food and i don’t know if cheatday videos are making that better. Though i can see the positives of them not just for the person doing them, but also the person watching. But i also think that they can be potentially triggering and harming for some as well as the person doing the challenge.

Also one of the things about cheatday videos/food challenges, is that some people purposely restrict themselves or just eat things like broccoli and chicken so that they can have the crazy cheat days…. and that creates an unhealthy balance and relationship with food. As well as gives off the wrong message… even if the video is just for “entertainment purposes”.

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Anyway, that is just my thoughts about this….. and i have more thoughts to share, but i thought i would keep the post rather short.

(Also there is a difference between refeed days/treatmeals for people who are on strict diets for example competitions/weight loss. Those types of days where they increase their energy intake or eat a treat can be beneficial both physically and mentally while on a diet.)

Also, i am thinking i might want to research more into this and as i will be studying health psychology *hopefully* in 2019, i think researching more into things like cheat day videos and how they might effect/trigger eating disorders or focus on food could be very interesting.

And some video tips on this subject:

Stephani Buttermore talks about what happens after a 10 000kcal challenge (she talks about weight gain, bloating, bodyfat and sugar). VIDEO LINK

Also watch her 10 000kcal aftermath video which is very interesting: VIDEO LINK

Her boyfriend Jeff Nippard has even done a very good “science explained” 10 000kcal challenge where he talks about fat gain, TDEE etc VIDEO LINK

 

These are just my personal thoughts and opinions, and i would love to know what YOU think about these challenges or types of videos.

 

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7 thoughts on “My thoughts on cheatday/food challenge videos on Youtube”

  1. I watched those type of challenges myself when I was sick in my eating disorder, but now when I’m recovered I don’t have any interest what so ever to watch those type of videos.. it almost makes me sick to think about because I’m just so over the focus on food, and yes, I would say both the people doing the challenges as well as those watching the videos have an unhealthy relationship with food. None of my healthy friends watch those types of videos, they have better things to spend their time on in life, and so do I now. I was so into my bubble when I watched the videos and my thoughts were too focused on food, so I seeked up food related things.

    I also think that people who have cheat days and plan them, they don’t have a healthy relationship with food. Also people who go on diets or strict meal plans, it is NOT a normal way of eating. Unless you are over/underweight or have a diagnos that says you have to eat in a certain way, you shouldn’t diet. Intuitive eating is the only normal and healthy way of eating, that is how we have been eating throughout the evolution before we could choose what we could eat. Before my eating disorder, I could eat pizza, hamburger, pancakes or what so ever on one day and didn’t think twice about it at all. That doesn’t mean I ate like that everyday, but it wasn’t something planned, it just happened and it wasn’t something I thought about because the things that was on my mind was life OUTSIDE of food. Because food is just fuel! Something we need to live the life that we are supposed to live, and not think about what we eat, that is a total waste of time! That’s why I sometimes think all these nutrition posts are not helpful, because the general person doesn’t need and shouldn’t know too much about what different food contains. It just creates a complicated relationship with food. Of course a nutritionist or dietist must know those type of things to have the scientific knowledge behind it and what happens in the body, but the average person shouldn’t be thinking about that! My eating disorder started when my coach in soccer told us we should eat bulgur and quinoa instead of pasta and rice etc.. it is SO dangerous to label food as “good” and “bad” or “better” and “worse”. We all know the basics and we don’t need to know more because that can make us exclude food and that can lead to a very dangerous downward spiral..

    Sorry if I come off as harsh, but I’m so damn tired of this food obsessed society and I see how much harm it does on people. It just makes me so sad that some people actually think that healthy foods as bread, pasta, rice, sauce etc are unhealthy so they avoid it. Its so messed up..

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    1. Don’t worry, i didn’t think your comment was harsh. I am very interested in hearing peoples opinions on different topics, that is why i wrote this post 🙂 I got lots of different messages from people, some saying it was triggering, harmful, a way for them to “eat through others” and some used those videos as a type of appetite suppressant, which shows just how negative they are. But others said it was inspiring and motivating and shows that you can eat alot and all types of food and still be healthy. So some found them positive, but at the end of the day it is still a focus on food and focusing too much on what others eat.

      There seems to be a wide fascination with knowing what and how others eat… many people love food shows, eating shows, food accounts etc But i think there is a fine line between finding it interesting and entertaining and having it as an obsession, and it is up to the individual to make sure that they aren’t just looking/thinking about food all day.

      With the nutrition part, i understand that normal people don’t need small details. HOWEVER for me personally, learning about nutrition and why you need to eat was very helpful for me in recovery. Sure, i didn’t know as much as i do now, but learning about nutrition was helpful for me. Some find it trigering and find that it puts too much focus on food and nutrition and numbers, whereas others find it helpful. I don’t just have people with eating disorders read my blog, i have normal healthy people as well as people who are on a weightloss mission/need to lose weight read my blog, so they might find it helpful to read about nutrition. I try to stay away from calories and such, however it is also a good idea for people to find a more balanced relationship with calories… to realise that calories aren’t bad or something you need to avoid. Calories are just a form of energy. I always write in the title what the post is about, i.e if you find nutrition posts triggering or uninteresting, then you can just skip those posts… just like with recipe posts if you don’t find them interesting. So there is a mix of everything 🙂 I mean, this is a nutrition/vegan/recipe blog so those are the types of posts you will find here, hahah! 🙂

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      1. Yes, by the end of the day we are all different and come from different backgrounds. I feel that the normal way of eating disappear more and more. Less people trust their own body and seek the answers in how other people are eating, but everyone is unique and need to listen to their own signals. I agree that basic knowledge about nutrition is good, but there is a fine line when it’s too much 🙂

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  2. Yes I agree with you, it is not a normal thing and should not be normalized. Is it possible to stretch back the stomach if it has been outstretched?

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    1. Yes, it is possible for the stomach size to shrink again if it has been stretched. However it can take weeks to months, and you won’t really feel “full” because you can’t fill your stomach to the capacity size it is at. As well as more hunger hormones being sent out, so if you have stretched your stomach size, it will take a few weeks of maybe feeling extra hungry or not full satisfied. HOWEVER you still need to eat and eat enough, but maybe the volume you eat won’t match the volume you CAN eat, if that makes sense.

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  3. I’ve never watched a food challenge video, but there was a show on the food channel. He eat so much at a diner and then get a T-shirt or prize. It was sickening to watch. I need to loss a lot of weight, but trying to just eat normal foods, no dieting. It hasn’t worked the last 20+ years why would it work now? I’m vegetarian too, going vegan. So I’m more focused on what I’m eating from that perspective. Thanks for a great read this morning. 😊

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