So, it’s no secret that there is some lingo in the healthy living world that drives me up a wall. Anything that encourages people to follow any particular diet that doesn’t allow them to listen to their bodies (other than promoting real foods from the earth, of course), any phrase that encourages restriction, and anything with the word “cheat” in it are among the few that just rub me the wrong way.
A few of the words/phrases I can’t stand, just to name a few: cheat day, cheat meal, thinspo, fitspo, IIFYM, & #gains, among others. One day I’ll do a post on the others, but today’s post is debunking the idea of a “cheat meal.” And just as bad… a “cheat day.”
Waiiittttt what’s wrong with cheat days? They sound so fun!
Look, I’m all about having variation in our diets. There is no one sized fits all diet regime, and there is no such thing as eating sOOoOooo clean+pure that we are untouchable. Indulging in something decadent and delicious in moderation is beautiful, and it should be part of our lives just like our kale, broccoli, fruits & green juices should be.
I don’t have a problem with treats. If I did, I’d be in big trouble. I like desserts, cookies & raw chocolate (okay, anything chocolate…) way too much to abstain from them 100% entirely for all of time. I did that for several years actually, and all it lead me to was having an eating disorder. What I do have a bit of a problem with is referring to those indulgences as “cheats.”
When we refer to something as a cheat, technically we are dubbing it “not okay” under regular circumstances. When we call it a cheat, we are reinforcing the fact that in a perfect world we would never touch anything that wasn’t 100% pure, healthy or clean. Basically, we are reinforcing the fact that in order to be worthy then we have to be perfect… when striving for perfection is what trips us up and keeps us from living fully in the moment and being completely happy, satisfied & content with who we ARE, in this moment, right now.
So if it’s not a “cheat,” what is it, then?
It’s a treat!
The word “treat” reinforces a carefree attitude and reminds us that there is nothing wrong with listening to our bodies & indulging in our cravings when the timing feels right. It gives us the power to choose if and when we are going to indulge, and we do so for pleasure and not to feel guilty directly afterward.
There is no “correct” amount of time throughout the week that we should be treating ourselves. These specific diet plans out there that tout eating clean 95% of the time and “cheating” 5% of the time may sound like they are giving us helpful guidelines, but really they are encouraging us to follow someone else’s words rather than listen to our own body. What’s most important for all of us, in this healthy & balanced life that we all deserve, is to eat intuitively. Healthy, well, and also balanced.
There is a popular fitness and nutrition plan out there that encourages a 45-minute “cheat period” each week. When I found that out I laughed out loud. 45 minutes?! I understand that the point is to keep people reigned in from going overboard for an entire “cheat day,” but if you tell someone to eat a certain way all week and then give them 45 minutes to splurge, there is a good chance they might use the full 45 minutes to stuff their face! And even if they don’t, putting the idea in their head that those 45 minutes are “bad” and derailing all of their hard work to eat healthy and workout for the rest of the week is just silly.
Life is an ebb and flow. We shouldn’t have to live our lives by when we can eat certain foods and when we can’t, and we certainly can’t believe that such a diet is sustainable for a full lifetime. And I’m not in the business of sharing anything with you that isn’t a LIFESTYLE plan– ya feel me?
When we treat ourselves, rather than give ourselves cheats, then we can go with the flow! If all of your friends are going out for fro yo, that sounds like a fab time to have a treat. If your family brings home donuts on a Sunday morning, that sounds like another great time to have a treat. If you are craving healthy foods and you feel like having a warm cinnamon tea for dessert instead of a brownie, that sounds like a FAB time to do just that. You shouldn’t feel like you have to “cheat” just because it’s your 45-minute allotted time slot to do so.
Another reason I’m against “cheat meals,” is because that for someone like me, who has been suffering with tummy problems their whole life, “cheating on” the way I know my body needs to eat in order to thrive is just a terrible idea. I can indulge and have something that my body doesn’t process well, but I will be off balance for days and it won’t be worth it. For me, it’s worth finding what DOES work for me and making all of that within limits, all the time. If my “treats” are never off-limits, then there is no crazy mystifying cloud around them. They are just there, and I can have them when I feel like it and I can not have them when I don’t feel like it!
And because of the particular way that I eat, it just so happens that my treats tend to fall under the uber healthy umbrella. I like (love) frozen dates with raw almond butter, fruit drizzled in raw almond butter, coconut shreds and honey, raw chocolate (I eat it by the fistful!), raw chocolate peanut butter cups, gluten-free peanut butter cookies from the farmer’s market, homemade chocolate chia pudding, and more!
That’s what works for me when I want a treat. I also like to put stevia in all of my tea and many of my smoothies for a sweet midday treat. I have a sweet tooth, and whenever I’ve tried to do the whole “cheat meal” thing it just makes me feel guilty for listening to my body.
We have to show our bodies respect & love by trusting them & listening to them, not by force feeding ourselves something that doesn’t sound good because it’s not “cheat day.”
Who’s with me? It’s time to fall in love with our bodies & the way we treat ourselves. We deserve it. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
And if my reasons weren’t enough, check out these 7 great reasons too!
ALSO, I have to add, my dear friend Sophie Jaffe from The Philosophie is the perfect example of someone who exhibits the, “It’s not a cheat, it’s a treat” mentality. She inspires me every day to live a nutrient-rich, energy-filled life surrounded by amazing people. That’s what it’s all about… not living life from “cheat meal” to “cheat meal”! Check out her site and her products to see an example of living that cheat-free, indulgent, healthy, radiant life.
Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts. What do you think about cheat meals? If you present a good argument about them to me, I would love to hear!