In a single word: Horribly.
I hate the whole concept of cheat meals, cheat days, cheat whatever. The word cheat in general, honestly I just hate it. And you should all know that I am not the kind of person that uses the word hate lightly. The only times I ever say hate are when I am talking about olives, tomatoes, and swimming.
But I don’t want to start this out on a negative note.
So let’s have a chat. I am sure at least about 90% of the people reading this have heard the term “cheat” in relation to any other word associated with food or dieting. Many of us, I am sure, have tried different diets throughout our lives, restricted calories, cut out whole food groups, tried cleanses, diet pills, and fasting. We have all had experiences in our lives where we try and readjust our eating habits in order to reach a certain physique goal, or because we think changing our habits or restricting calories will help us lose weight and achieve happiness. Or what we think is happiness.
When we starting dieting, we start to see foods in either a positive or negative way.
We see vegetables, fruits, and other nutrient dense foods as “good” and burgers, fries, chips, cookies, and cake as “bad”. This can be a somewhat good thing, because it helps you to kind of learn a little bit about nutrition and how to “properly” fuel your body. BUT it also prompts us to start thinking of certain foods as bad instead of just viewing them as fuel. And sometimes when we start to view food in this way, we can start to think that one “bad” meal will throw our entire life off track, and ruin any progress that we have made.
And I just want to say that that is not the case at all.
Unless maybe you are prepping for a bikini competition, or some other scenario where your body composition is dependent on your success.
Food is fuel. That is a concept that I truly believe in. There is no good food, or bad food (except tomatoes and olives because in my humble opinion, ew). Food is food. I think when we start associating food with an emotion or a positive or negative connotation is when we start to get into trouble. For me at least, this is when I fell into emotional binge eating episodes. Because for me what happened when I viewed a food as bad and cut it out, I would start to crave it. And I would try my hardest not to give into that craving, and eventually I would always cave. Then I would eat that food that I viewed as “forbidden” and keep on eating it, because I would start to feel guilty that I couldn’t control myself, and I would comfort myself by continuing to eat that “bad” food.
I have been there you guys.
I also think that it is really important to live your life, and not miss out on experiences because of food. So yes, eating a well balanced diet is important, but it shouldn’t be so important that it makes you feel like you can’t go out to dinner with your friends or family. Food is something that brings people together, it is a wonderful thing. And fueling our bodies is all about making choices. Maybe those choices won’t be the “right” ones 100% of the time, but we are humans, and we are not perfect, so why should we try and impose perfection on our diets?
Just a thought there.
But I know, I have been there. I used to get weird food anxieties. I wouldn’t eat dinner with my family, and then go to a party or a friends house, and tell my friends that I already ate because I was worried that eating a piece of cake, or chips and dips would make me fat. Or when I was tracking calories, I was worried that those foods would put me so over my calorie goal for the day that I would never make any progress. I would just not go to hang out with my friends sometimes because I didn’t want to have to eat “bad” foods, and I knew at home I would have a good healthy home cooked meal. It makes me sad to realize that I did that, but it is the honest truth. I struggled with my eating habits, and I started to associate certain foods as trigger foods, because I knew if I ate one of whatever it was, I would eat the entire thing. And that was a big reason I would just stay home, because I didn’t want to be around what I thought were my “trigger” foods.
For people that know me…
You know that I can eat a whole family size bag of trail mix in one sitting. The only reason I know I can do that, is because I did that on more than one occasion during my sophomore year of college. And up until recently, I viewed trail mix as a trigger food. I started associating bad feelings with it, until I realized that trail mixes are so nutrient dense when eaten in MODERATION. So when I started eating more paleo based I re-introduced trail mix, which made all my dreams come true. The second that I stopped viewing trail mix as bad, and viewed as just nutrient dense food, was when I was able to fully live my life.
This kind of took a turn…
Somehow this post took a turn into intuitive eating land. But I do feel like that kind of goes along with what I am talking about.
We call meals “cheat” meals because we see them as being bad for us. And yeah, ok, sometimes they are bad for us. But I am going to be honest with you guys, freaking cheeseburgers and fries are good for the soul. Foods like that shouldn’t be seen as bad, because they taste freaking delicious. And we shouldn’t be depriving ourselves of the foods that are crazy good and make us smile when we take a bite. So I hate that meals like that are thought to be “cheat” meals. The only thing you are “cheating” by eating that is your own happiness.
I’m sorry this turned into a rant
I just want people to have the realization that I had and achieve their greatest happiness. So really, I apologize if this was all over the place. And I am sorry if it offends anyone. But I saw something on social media the other day about cheat meals and it just had me fuming, so I figured I needed to write about it.
I just want you all to remember:
one hamburger, or even one whole pizza will not throw your entire life off track. And when you feel like maybe you have eaten something that isn’t sitting well in your body, or is making you feel weird, just eat foods that make you feel better at the next meal. Listen to your body, and try not to let your emotions get the best of you.
Tell me how you feel about cheat meals? Do you practice intuitive eating? what are you struggling with?