The Cheat System Diet Book Review

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The Cheat System Diet Book Review
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If you’ve ever tried Weight Watchers or another structured weight loss plan and failed or relapsed, you need to read this book: The Cheat System Diet.

I recently received an advance copy of The Cheat System Diet and I think it will be a valuable resource for a lot of people. Here’s why:

What I Love About the Book

Systems like Weight Watchers rely on portion control and calorie restriction. These can work for a short time but aren’t usually sustainable long term because they rely heavily on will power and restriction (both of which are mentally taxing). Additionally, lack of will power is not usually the cause of the problem and the mindset of dieting can do more harm than good over the long-term.

You’ve probably had this experience yourself or know someone who has: you start a diet and are gung-ho for a few days/weeks/months until you have a little slip (cheat) and then figure “Oh well, I already messed up for today so I’ll just eat the rest of this chocolate cake/bucket of french fries/pile of sugar.” This leads to a failure mindset and it is really difficult to get back to the diet.

Also, it may just be my natural rebel nature, but when I “can’t” have something, I want it more. The Cheat System Diet builds this natural desire into a healthy eating plan in a way that let’s you keep your mental sanity and reach your weight loss goals.

I recently had the chance to meet Jackie Wicks in person and she is the real deal. She founded after she struggled to lose the 60 pounds she gained during pregnancy. She is a busy mom with kids and she wanted to create a system that was do-able for other moms. She and I had the chance to chat over dinner and she is not only in great shape and inspirational but she struggles with the same issues that all of us moms do so she writes from a perspective of understanding.

The Cheat System itself is great, especially for those who don’t have any specific food intolerance and who have the goal of losing weight as it creates a framework for building a relationship with food. It encourages readers to eat certain foods (“Eats”) and limit other foods while still being able to enjoy them (“Cheats”). I like that it takes lifestyle into account so you can earn more “cheats” by adopting healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

Unlike many diet books, The Cheat System Diet doesn’t encourage severe restriction or counting calories, fat, or any other factor. It encourages you to eat as much as you want of the healthy foods and to only consume the “Cheats” after eating your healthy foods for the day. This creates a focus on consuming the healthy foods rather than avoiding unhealthy foods and encourages consumption of more vegetables.

I like that Jackie delves in to cortisol and stress and explains that it is one of the reasons that diets, long distance running and other factors that increase cortisol can cause you to GAIN weight instead of lose it. She also discourages snacking, which is beneficial for many people who are trying to lose weight.

I also like that Jackie addresses inflammation since this has been a big part of my own recovery from thyroid disease.


I knew Jackie and I could be friends when I heard her talk about exercise. She advocates optimizing exercise and points out that less can be more, especially for those with cortisol issues.

She encourages walking and light exercise as well as weight training but first recommends a series of stretches and exercises that help align the body. I think that the “more is more” attitude toward exercise has created more problems for people since it stresses the adrenals and can lead to weight gain.

Overall, I think the Cheat System Diet will be really helpful for a lot of people, especially those with good intentions and good goals who have tried many diets without success. I think that it helps create a healthy relationship with food and can break the cycle of restriction/binging that many people have.

Ever tried a diet and end up falling off the wagon? Share your experience below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


19 responses to “The Cheat System Diet Book Review”

  1. Aldwin Ronan Avatar
    Aldwin Ronan

    This book is really helpful and the information provided inside this book is amazing. Diet Related book is really helpful to know about the healthy food.

  2. JJ Avatar

    Have you ever read up on the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating? I’d be interested on hearing your thoughts
    about it.

  3. Denise Passero Avatar
    Denise Passero

    I need this. I am definitely one of those people who start out gung ho and end up falling off the wagon. I am also one of those people who the minute I think I can’t have something, that is exactly what I want even if it is something I don’t usually eat anyway. Most “diets” do not take life style into account and set us up for failure.

    As for exercise, I HATE it. I would rather take a nice walk, or work in the yard, or do 30 minutes of housework than exercise. I started doing, “Classical Stretch” which keeps me vertical for 30 minutes and actually helps me from feeling stiff. But all this extreme stuff ,,, forget it! Thanks for sharing this. Already bought the book!!

  4. Anna Avatar

    I do believe that diet is extremely important in staying healthy, but I have to disagree on long-distance running. Long distance running has helped me more than any other thing I know of to get fit and stay fit. If i over eat at all and gain a few pounds, all I have to do is go out and run a few miles for a few days and then I’m back to abs (with a bit of speed work put in, of course.)
    What you say about speed work is really important – that’s how I got the abs! But short exercise, such as yoga or diet workouts and short distance running (such as sprints) every day don’t give me (and a few others I’ve asked) the ‘satisfied’ feeling after we run.
    I understand completely if you don’t have enough time to run long distance – I spend about 1 hr running/exercising every day – but do give a long run a try. It feels soo good! Just make sure you check out minimalist running – maybe that’s why long-distance running doesn’t work for most. I know that I had injury after injury after injury when I ran in conventional running shoes. The switch to minimalist may be hard, but believe me – it pays off!!

  5. Fae Avatar

    Thank you for another great article. I am going go preorder this book.

    I need a mommy easy diet. Just to get new ideas. I’m always searching for how I can make myself healthier and therefore incorporate healthy food choices into my family as well.

    One of the sites I recently stumbled across was:

    Though it does promote a 8wk course of detoxing from fructose sugar. And has a lot of articles and recipes on making healthier choices, including natural sugar alternatives. I think between this site and that I will get a lot of ideas. I just wanna share with you or anyone else who’s looking for change.

    Thanks again!

  6. Lynn Louise Wonders Avatar
    Lynn Louise Wonders

    Love your site – refer my clients to your site ALL the time! I am a weight loss and wellness coach as well as a holistic psychotherapist and yoga teacher. This concept will work for some people, yes absolutely BUT some people biologically need a very structured program for short term with proper coaching on getting their body, mind and spirit in balance and THEN can transition to a cheat-n-eat way of living. I think it’s important that people know one size does not fit all when it comes to weight loss and healthy lifestyle. The end goal for everyone is to have balance but for some people (just like alcoholics can not have even one sip of alcohol) there are some people who (at least for a while) absolutely need a disciplined program with proper coaching support from someone who knows their stuff to get off of sugar and starches and then once clean, lean and green learn how to slowly transition to an occasional treat/cheat with mindfulness. Thank you for all YOU do to help us get clean, lean and green on your site!

  7. Angela Avatar

    I’ve already preordered my book. I have been following the PEERtrainer cheat system and have done a cleanse and have lost almost 15 pounds in the last 7 weeks. Since having my baby 2 years ago, I have not managed to lose weight (beyond a few pounds that I gain right back) until finding PEERtrainer. The main keys for me have been the protein shake, the cleanse soup (it is so good) and the focus on vegetables and hydration. I feel very good and highly recommend it!

  8. Erin Avatar

    I don’t necessarily find the eating right part hard or taxing, and I don’t normally over eat. However, I find the exercising to be extremely taxing. I worked 7 long months to lose 15lbs, got sick, and it came right back. Plus, the amount of stress I have at work makes it 100 times worse. Feeling like I was going to be a fatty forever, I gave up. Looks like it’s time to grab the slow moving yoga video for stretches and get moving again. But on the “cheating” plan. =) Thanks for sharing this book. XX. Always worth a look.

  9. Brianne Avatar

    (Of course) I love that she features exercise and postural alignment in her program. 😉 Looks like an interesting book designed to create healthy relationships with food, although the title did leave me wondering since the word “cheat” makes you feel like you’re doing something naughty!

  10. Kellie Avatar

    Hi Katie, you are reading my mind!!! I’m on weight watchers at the moment and I lost 2 kilos ( I’m an aussie) but then I hurt my back and couldn’t exercise and I’ve had to rely on others to feed me, so unfortunately it’s one fail after another. Or so it feels! But I love your

    philosophy on health and weight loss, I’ve followed your blog for years and learned so much. But my weight is a constant problem as both of my parents have diabetes and I’m scared that both myself and my eldest daughter 13, are in line to get it too. She has always been on the chubby side, from birth. Could you please give me some suggestions for both myself and my 13 year old? Thank you, love Kellie

  11. Maxine Avatar

    This may work for some, but please be aware that if you are addicted to grains and sugar, the cheat will just prolong your addiction. If you stick to meat, veggies, nuts and seeds, and a good quantity of fat like butter, olive oil, and coconut oil, the craving will stop. It worked for me.

    1. Karen Avatar

      I definitely agree with you Maxine! I know that I have to aim for 100% compliance. Nowadays my “cheats” are whole fruits, dried apples or date & coconut rolls (I am following the Paleo Auto Immune Protocol for my rheumatoid arthritis). Even then I have to watch myself; I just ate a 1/2 pint of raspberries!

  12. Lauren Avatar

    I like the concept of this book! I had definitely struggled with diet failures until I found the Primal lifestyle. When I started cutting out grains/sugar/processed carbs, it was definitely tough and so my diet partner and I instituted a cheat day once a week where we could eat whatever we wanted all day! The first few cheat days we would gorge ourselves with pizza and ice cream and beer–whatever we wanted. Then we would go back to our stricter low carb diet.

    The amazing part was that after awhile, I just didn’t want to overindulge on cheat days anymore. They made me feel gross and bloated and irritable. And now (3 years later granted) I don’t even have cheat days, but I still make room for the occasional ben and jerry’s or margarita. However, I do give the cheat days a lot of credit for easing me into this lifestyle!

  13. Paul Avatar

    I have never tried a diet! I never saw the point of this to tell you the truth (I am not a big person to start with).
    I was pescatarian for 17 years and just started to eat meat again last summer while I was visiting Japan. It took me about 8 months to actually get used to eat meat and not pack-up the fat that was coming from the new type of protein I was not used to (I have to say that I was trying EVERYTHING-meat though)…

    My diet nowadays consists on eating very heathy and wholesome foods 5 times a day. I eat a LOT in the morning, a very nice-sized lunch, and a smaller dinner… I eat healthy snacks like fruits and nuts between these three meals. It is VERY satisfying… I am never REALLY HUNGRY!
    I lost all of the “baby fat” I had packed-up while trying every meat possible and imaginable for these 8 months.

    A healthy diet is the way to go! It is way better than going on a diet and shock your body!
    If you want to lose weigh: Do it for your health, don’t do it because summer is coming and your best friend’s pool party is around the corner next month! It’s a little stupid!
    Just be healthy and STAY healthy! That is the best diet you can do for you, your body, and your soul!

  14. Sarah Hushbeck Avatar
    Sarah Hushbeck

    Just pre-ordered my copy of the book and emailed to request the free offer. Thank you so much for the review and providing the offer!

  15. Amber Avatar

    I consider myself to have diet A.D.D. I have done so many diets it’s not funny. I am the running joke of my family. Sadly I have put on 100 pounds from having 4 kids and what I call repeated diet failures, which have made me gain more weight instead of lose it! Lately I can’t even last one day on a diet! I am feeling pretty low about myself lately ( like a failure) and hoping that this new cheat diet will be doable! I love natural holistic everything, I hate counting calories and I hate the stress of dieting! I already have 4 kids that I homeschool and they are 10 and under, I have enough stress. Adding on trying to lose weight hasn’t been very easy. Thanks for your review on this! I can’t wait to read it and start applying it!

    1. Sara Avatar

      We support you! The stress of having four kids and dealing with hormonal shifts as we age leaves us at a big disadvantage.

      What’s worked for me is the start off the day with a spinach and protein powder smoothie. Then, if I do nothing else right that day, I know I fed my cells which reduced my sugar cravings and have “squeezed in more green.”

      Then I try to drink lots of water, sweat 4x a week, and get enough sleep. The rest is gravy. I can’t worry about my self worth being tied to momentary willpower lapses, so I stopped. I just squeeze in more greens and leave less room for the crap.

      Diets leave us feeling like we have one more thing to do before we get to be acceptable and then we rebel and sabotage. Eff that! Water, sleep, cardio, and greens will have it off in no time. Fully enjoy whatever treat you’re having and stop eating before it moves from pleasure to shame. Keep it positive because we deserve to feel good!

      I love Wellness Mama! I have an anxiety/depression/mood blog focused on feeling good called Wellness Mama has been doing a lot of good for a lot of people for a long time. Keep building this fabulous community!

    2. Blan Avatar

      I have found my bosom buddy. I too have been left severely overweight (70 lbs.) after 6 c-sections. Homeschool, too, which means I sit most of the day. I’m a diet dodo. Gained 12 lbs. while ON my last diet and was ready to call it quits. Then I foud George Cruise’s book “Eight Minutes in the Morning for Those Who Have More Than 30 Pounds to Lose”. His plan is simple, too. Half the plate veggies, a quarter meat or protein, and a quarter grain or high carb such as potato. It took a week or so to catch on. I had to adjust. But I can still have my pancakes AND bacon as long as I have a whole grapefruit to go with it. The exercises are for those who hate exercise – quick, easy, and no equipment. Do I like to exercise now? No. But I can do this. And I’m feeling better so I’m not asking the kids to be my gopher so much. Added exercise I don’t mind. Discloser: I’m only down 8 pounds (3 weeks) but in the past I’ve never lost more than 4. I’ve now doubled that!

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