Confession: Years and YEARS back (late teens/early 20's) I used to be a “cheater”. A food-cheater that is. When I let myself have that ONE “cheat meal”, which usually didn't consist of the healthiest of food choices because after all it was a "cheat meal", it was supposed to feel and be "bad", right?! Well that ONE "cheat meal" would somehow turn into a “cheat day”.
Every time I had a "cheat meal", I’d feel guilty about eating foods I told myself I wasn’t allowed to have, so when I cheated and ate them it made me feel super down and I'd let my mind get the best of me and my healthy eating. I would think I had ruined my whole “diet”, ditch all my good habits, and go to town on all those foods I told myself I couldn’t have. Pizza, fries, Ben and Jerry’s, you name it. I would binge-out (without realizing it at the time that’s what I was doing) on these foods because I deprived myself so much and felt like I didn’t know when I would “be allowed” to have them again. I used to work at a Starbucks (again, back in the day) and if I had a 2 oz. caramel frappuccino from a sample cup while working I'd OBSESS over trying to figure out the calories I must have consumed and deduct those from the mere 1,200 calories a day I "allowed" myself to have and worry about that 2 oz. SIP alllll day. Again, not healthy and 100% not necessary.
After a binge episode, I'd be left feeling sick from the terrible foods I had eaten in the course of less than 24 hours and felt GUILT from cheating on my “diet” in the first place. This would happen a good once every month or two and went on for a year. Or maybe a few years. Not healthy at all, right?! Like I mentioned, at the time, I didn't realize I was binging, maybe because it didn't happen all the time. It wasn't until years after I didn't have these occurrences anymore and had adopted a truly healthy lifestyle that I reflected back on my behavior, and had the light-bulb go off that I was totally having binge-episodes anytime I felt guilty about indulging in something or eating too much of it.
So that brings me to…
Despising the fact that the word “cheat” is used in connection to our food and eating. Food is here to nourish our bodies, and eating (a human necessity to survival) shouldn’t ever be associated with the act of cheating. Cheating automatically brings on feelings of guilt, and no one should feel guilty about eating. We NEED to eat! Of course, I will say we need to be eating the right foods to nourish our bodies because that is most important.
I know it is a popular thing, especially in the bodybuilding world, to have cheat meals, and worse cheat days, but I think we need to stop associating our food and the practice of eating with cheating altogether. I especially don’t think it is healthy to have a FULL on cheat day- Eating foods that are processed, full of refined sugars and flours, and have chemicals and additives in them with little nutritional value all day are bound to make you feel guilty and bring on lingering cravings for unhealthy foods. Not to mention what these foods are doing to your insides. Cheat days aren't healthy for your blood sugar or insulin levels, despite what the bodybuilding world will tell you. If you continuously increase the amount of calories you eat on these "cheat days", you could gain more weight over time. Regardless if cheat meals help you achieve abs, they aren’t healthy for our bodies or minds, PERIOD. And no set of abs is worth treating your body poorly.
The longer you live a healthy lifestyle and the more you understand the effect the foods you put into your body have on your health, the less you will want that conventional cookie made with refined flour, sugar, and butter full of trans-fats, trust me. Instead you will crave a cookie made with oat flour, stevia, and ghee. This is a process that takes time, learning, and growth, but making the food to health connection is so important because that’s when you lose interest in eating things that cause harm to your overall well-being and health. But if there’s one place you start, ditch the word diet and cheat today and replace them with healthier words and habits- "Healthy lifestyle" and "splurge". xx.