The word “cheat” in relation to food should be banned.
Saying this word means that we are immediately adding negative connotations to the foods we eat. What then happens is our words expand to “oh I was naughty at the weekend” or “I was really BAD yesterday”.
Fundamentally we are attributing our emotional responses to our food. It is not the food itself that causes this, there isn’t foods out there that have a soul purpose of making you feel like crap. It is simply our perception and reaction to certain foods that we have programmed ourselves. Therefore, it is really important to shift from this mindset and stop associating these words to the foods we eat. Period.
So, when we talk about “cheat days” we are really talking about days where we consume more calories than usual. No food is inherently bad, we could simply plot them all on a sliding scale of more nutritious & less nutritious.
Naturally those who use the word “cheat days/meals” are generally on a diet. What tends to happen is that people severely restrict their calories throughout the week, to then consume a highly calorific meal at the weekend. When we restrict so much during the week, we are far more likely to go overboard because our body is craving food, we feel we have earned it (again not a word I love to use) and we place too much emphasis and focus on it. The next thing that happens can unfold in 2 ways:
- We fall off the wagon – We think because we have consumed way more, we have blown everything and there is no point carrying on so we may as well just eat like there is no tomorrow
- We feel guilt, shame and anger – This is the vicious energy cycle of word association. We call it ‘cheat’ we go enjoy ourselves and eat what we like… then we feel like trash because we feel we have let ourselves down or we shouldn’t have done it, hate ourselves for a few days, go back into starve mode and then do it all over again next weekend.
Just to be clear both of these cycles are extremely damaging and overtime can lead to long term relationship issues with food.
So, let me try and change your thought process, or at least give you something to think about….
- Weight loss – Rethink your relationship with calories
It is true that in order to lose weight your energy balance must be greater out than in. The problem is that everyone wants a quick fix and so drop their calories to SILLY amounts to lose weight fast. Adding to this are the calorie tracking/fitness apps that give you the option of how quickly you want to lose weight (of course we all go ASAP) and then output the lowest number possible which people follow. I recommend more of a moderate calorie deficit and rather than thinking of this being Monday – Friday and then a “cheat day” at the weekend think of every day as the same and implement moderation. For example, following a moderate calorie deficit I could enjoy a glass of wine and a dinner out on a Friday night by having a few less snacks on the days leading up to this or a lighter lunch the next day. However, if I sink back a whole bottle and a whopping 3 course meal it would mean I would have to barely eat for a few days to make this back up which I do not recommend!! Does this sound like a healthy balance to you? Hopefully you see my point?!
- Wording – Rethink how you speak to yourself
Stop applying negative connotations to food. Think about what you say before you say it. If you find yourself saying “oh I was naughty” … why were you naughty? Or “this food is bad” … why is it bad? You need to start challenging your own self talk and understand that your relationship with food is important. You need to stop putting foods into good or bad lists and instead remember the sliding scale.
We all need to educate ourselves more on how to be healthy not to be skinny!
- Goals – Review & Reflect
I understand weight loss goals but I don’t always agree with them. Although many of us have a particular weight we aspire to get to, we must remember this doesn’t define us. I see this with clients… overtime they are getting fitter, healthier, stronger and feel amazing, only to jump on the scales, not see the number they want and feel like utter sh*t again. We must understand that there is more to life than the number staring back at us and to not place so much emphasis and emotion to it. Make sure you have other goals to push towards, things that really matter! Perhaps you want to get fitter so you can spend more time outdoors with your kids, or you want to eat healthier so you have better energy and sleep…. The list is endless.
- Food – Enjoy it and understand it
Please enjoy your meals and make sure you eat a wide variety of different foods inclusive of the things you enjoy. Make sure you take time to understand food and nutrition more. Half the problem is that people don’t really know much other than what they hear in the media or watch on the TV. Try and learn more about what you are putting in your body, you’ll feel more empowered by your decisions this way.
Hopefully by reading this you can tell it’s a subject I am quite passionate about. I would love to hear your thoughts & comments. My messages and Instagram DM’s are always open for anyone struggling or wanting to know more.
Lots of Love