Don’t Cheat, Just Eat

“It’s my cheat meal.”
“I cheated this weekend and ate cake.”
“I was so bad with my eating at that party.”
“Saturday is aways my cheat day.”
“I am going to run 3 extra miles to burn off this dessert.”
“I am hitting the gym twice because of that party tonight.”

You probably just read through those and likely recognized one of those as something you’ve said yourself. I know I have. While I never use the word “cheat” real often, I spoke (even if it was just in my head) about how the food I was eating was so bad and I felt bad about eating it, or how I would need to exercise so much more to be able to earn/make up for eating a certain food.

The problem with this type of thinking is that it creates a negative relationship between us and the food we at (and the act of eating in general).

The definition of cheat is:

to defraud; swindle; deceive; influence by fraud;
a person who acts dishonestly, deceive, or defrauds

Doesn’t that definition just give you warm fuzzies? Obviously not.

And despite what you might think about healthy eating, weight loss, etc. being solely about the food you put in your mouth, the truth is, that making lifestyle changes to eat well and making good health choices are hugely connected with your mind. Negativity surrounding your food choices creates a negative relationship with food.

When we call something a “cheat meal”, we are implying that we are deceiving ourselves and being dishonest with ourselves. When we associate any food choice as something that we will have to “pay for in the gym later”, it not only makes negative food associations in the mind, but turns exercise into punishment instead of something to help create a strong body.

Years and years of negative food thoughts really start to add up. It took me a few years before I really got it and stopped finding that need to “work off that party cake” or feel the guilt over eating something that wasn’t “on plan”.

Don't Cheat Just Eat - Simply Nourished Wellness

Let’s reframe our thinking

Changing your mindset about food and eating is not something that will happen overnight. The first step is being aware. When you are talking or thinking about food and you hear yourself say a phrase like those above, take a moment to pause, acknowledge and then rephrase your statement (even if only in your own mind). Or say it out loud and explain to the person how you’re retraining your mind to be positive about the food you eat. (They likely need to hear this too!)

Things to say instead:

“I can’t wait to eat this, I’ve been looking forward to this meal with friends all week”
“I went to my friend’s wedding this weekend and they had the most delicious cake!”
“I can’t wait to enjoy the food at this party. There are so many yummy things to try!”
“I’d love to go out for dessert with you to celebrate your promotion!”
“That party was so fun, I’ll see you tomorrow at the gym. I hear there’s a new strength program to try!”

Just a bit of a positive spin can create a completely different feel to the emotion tied with that food/eating experience. Go up to the top of this post and read those other quotes again. Can you feel the difference as you read them vs. these quotes? How differently do they feel in your mind?

Don't Cheat Just Eat - Simply Nourished Wellness

I want to challenge you to create a positive environment in your mind when it comes to food. This not only helps to create good habits in us, but if you are a parent, it helps to create a positive food mindset for your children as well. Because they see and hear the things you say about your food and the way you speak of your body. Likewise, your family & friends hear it too – and so many of them are probably struggling with similar things. They these need to hear a different side to the food relationship. Let what they hear be positive!

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