We don’t look to cheating for success in academics, work pursuits or love so why are people looking to cheat in their diets?
“It isn’t a diet unless you cheat”
“I wait all week for my cheat”
“I live for cheat days”
“Eat clean, but when you cheat, cheat dirty”
First off let me be clear, I LOVE FOOD. The last thing I want to feel when eating my food, is that I’ve cheated myself, my lifestyle, my good habits or my health. I haven’t.
If you (or I) have dessert once or twice a week it isn’t ruining our health. It isn’t ‘pushing us off the bandwagon’. It is dessert, end of story.
Does depriving yourself most of the time and then cheating some of the time sound like something you want to do for the rest of your life?
What do I want to do for the rest of my life? Enjoy my food, maintain a healthy weight for me, maintain my overall good health, be active and enjoy my food some more. Enjoy my food, not overeat my food.
Cheating has a negative connotation, why would you want to label a day of the week (or a meal) as something wrong so that you can eat differently?
This sounds a lot like black and white thinking.
Wouldn’t it be more attainable to try to eat almost all meals to your goals?
To put this into perspective consider the following two situations:
- Goal– Trying to lose weight by being active and making healthier choices at meals.
Successes- Packs lunches most days for work ensuring to pack fruits and vegetables along with leftovers including a protein source. When in a rush grabbing a can of tuna, crackers and a whole carrot or pepper. Having half of a plate of fruit or vegetables with dinner each night.
Problems– Going out with work colleagues, lack of selection at local pub. Doesn’t get in half plate of vegetables with burger and fries but does order a side salad.In scenario one the person can look back at their positive habits and feel confident that they haven’t cheated their health or their goals. Not thinking in black and white allowed this person to choose a small amount of vegetables (salad) instead of none and feel positive about their decision.
2. Goal– Trying to lose weight by following gluten-free diet and being active except on cheat days.
Successes- Packs lunches most days for work ensuring to pack gluten-free items including a protein source. When in a rush grabbing processed gluten-free foods that are quite possibly higher in calories than non-GF foods. Having half of a plate of fruit or vegetables with dinner each night.
Problems– Going out with work colleagues, lack of selection of gluten-free foods at local pub. Decides to modify this day of the week to cheat day. Orders burger and poutine and two sodas since it is cheat day, it is ALL or NOTHING so might as well GO BIG or GO HOME.
In the second scenario the person can look back at their positive habits and feel confident that they have made lifestyle changes (increased physical activity and increased awareness of what they eat). Choosing gluten-free foods might help this person learn more about what they eat but isn’t necessarily helping them lose weight. Using cheat day as a day to not care about what one eats can negate many of the positive habits one has made. All or nothing thinking or thinking in black and white can give a person an excuse to be extreme with their intake when they may not normally be. This person may also think I’ve cheated today already once so I can keep going until the day is over, which can lead to excessive calorie intake.
**This post is related to popular diet trends and is not referring to gluten-free diets for those who have medical conditions such as celiac disease. If you have celiac disease you should never consume gluten.