Cheating…is it really ok?

The 4th of July holiday is like most holidays for us Americans.  We (usually, typically) have family or friends around.  And lots of food.  And alcohol.  Every region/family has their favorites, but for most of us, it’s not a salad and fruit holiday – it’s chips, BBQ, potato salad, cakes, pies, ice cream.  It’s a day of freedom and for most of us, that is also freedom from our diet.

If you follow me on social media, you know that I don’t participate in dieting.  Not because it doesn’t work, because it does for many people.  But it 100% does not work for me.  If it did I would have lost more weight when I was doing Weight Watchers and I wouldn’t have started my journey in January 2012 at the highest weight I have ever seen.  The reason I think it does not work is that it allowed me to change from obsessing about food to obsessing about points.  And then just like what happened with food, after so long of doing really well, something breaks and a binge happens.  And how do you recover from a binge?  You start obsessing about points and eating crazy perfect and depriving yourself.  Back and forth, back and forth.  A vicious cycle of total unhealthy thinking.

So what the hell does this have to do with the holidays?

It’s this.  Now, a few days away from the holiday and a day removed from the official weekend, I see so many people commenting about the fact that in order to enjoy the holiday, food must be consumed in massive amounts.  And that the holiday demands so much food that you feel awful then get restrictive and super clean to balance out the holiday. So Monday is the day to clean it up and detox and cleanse and….the dreaded start over.

Sounds familiar?

I thought about this for a few days and it took me a bit of time to figure out why this whole cycle really bothered me when I read about it.  But I think it bothers me so much because it really is a demonstration of the lack of moderation that happens on deprivation style diets.  That celebrations for many of us means eating things that we would NEVER eat on a daily basis or we plan in a cheat day so we can eat the things that we would eat in a much smaller quantity or not at all, but they all become totally acceptable because a date on the calendar makes it ok.

Let me be clear – I’m not anti-holiday or anti-dessert (or alcohol or bbq or any other delicious food despite my tree hugger eating mentality).  I love all that stuff, you don’t get to 300 lbs without liking a few cupcakes and eating a few burgers.  But I am anti cheat days.

I believe in injecting a little moderation into our lives daily/weekly/monthly/whatever so a certain cheat date isn’t built up as the “how many calories can I stuff into my body quickly” holiday.   Not because the food is bad, but because the cycle of saving up for a certain day mentally is not a lifestyle model.  Or is it?  It’s so common in the weight loss community that it is certainly not abnormal thinking or something that gets you a second look.  I’m almost 100% convinced that in life for reaching a certain weight/size goal you are better off being consistent, not perfect.

I guess I want to challenge anyone who reads this blog to start trying to live with a little moderation instead of deprivation/explode model.  If you made it through this entire ramble,  thank you!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  This topic is a hard one – I think it’s very personal what diet works for you mentally and physically.  Although I do believe that they aren’t always the same answer as sometimes you have to go for sustainability mentally over sometimes faster weight loss that drives you coo coo for cocoa puffs.  And that overrides science.  Right?

6 thoughts on “Cheating…is it really ok?”

  1. ” I’m almost 100% convinced that in life for reaching a certain weight/size goal you are better off being consistent, not perfect.”

    ^^^^^ This.

    I am slowly distancing myself from the dieting mentality that has been ingrained in me for so so long. I also feel the same way about “cheat” meals. I used to believe that I needed that cheat day. That it would keep me from feeling deprived, etc….but I realized that the cheat day was totally derailing me from permanent weight loss, and that it was lasting more than one meal or 1 day. I found it was so hard to bounce back to whatever diet I was on after going all out for my cheat day. Roller coaster effect, right there.

    I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I’m slowly getting to the point where I am learning to trust myself. I used to have all this anxiety about slipping up, or eating bad things (of course all this anxiety just lead to the inevitable binge) but now I just try to prep the best I can, and take each meal one at a time. Just because it’s someone’s birthday doesn’t mean I have to eat the grocery store cake. Just because it’s 4th of July, doesn’t mean I have to go crazy. Now, when Christmas rolls around, please remind me of this 

    As always, your insight is spot on! I feel like your outlook is really healthy, realistic, and is exactly what I want to get to. I’m working on it!

    Maybe you already have, but if not, I’d love to read a blog post about how you handle dinning out, marathon holidays (like t-giv, Christmas), or other situations where meals are not really in your control. I find that at home, I’m good to go. I have my shakeo, pack my lunches, and make my dinners. Outside of this is up and down, and an area I have not yet mastered. What works for you?

    1. YES with the anxiety leading to binge eating. That is the biggest reason I think I failed for so long because just like you said, I would not bounce back for a while. It wasn’t just a meal – it would turn into a week sometimes. Not cool.

      I am still working on all this stuff too…each holiday and event is a new opportunity to try to figure something out or learn from my mistakes. I can post about how I dine out and the big holidays when I am not the chef. I really only kind of came to all of this in the last year or so…so I have been lucky that I have cooked for all of the holidays since then, haha 🙂 But I often am out with friends where they are cooking and that is probably my best prep for these situations. I’ll plan that for the next week or so, let me think about it! I will say I am not perfect at ALL and I still have to wrestle. But I can share what I have done and what I plan on doing and how I would like to improve!

      Thanks for your comment Erin! It’s nice to know that someone else has these same struggles!!!

  2. Thanks! It really is nice to know that someone else “gets it”. So much of what you’ve shared and of course all the social media motivation has helped me SO MUCH!

  3. Confession. I totally struggle with this very topic. But I do this to myself, lol! So I’m one of those people that was able to get on track with eating because I’m a “cold turkey”/”all or nothing” type of person. I totally don’t believe in weening myself off of things. And because of this, I often feel bad for having a treat. I don’t feel as bad as I used to, but there are days when I want nothing more than to stay on track, but I’m craving a cookie. Or a donut. Or ice cream. Or anything with sugar on it/in it haha! I’m getting better with accepting that a treat here and there is fine. And it’s funny because, I used to be very much the “everything in moderation” person, but I realized that that mentality gave me too much leeway for my taste. So I went back to a cold turkey frame of mind and that keeps me from having those moments of, “One cookie is fine” to “Oh crap, this whole week I’ve been eating cookies!” — That’s totally me. We’ve all been there, done that.

    I know there are probably better methods to control myself, but for now, this keeps me from going down a path of no return. It’s especially good now because of my husband’s eating habits. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t buy treats. But, unfortunately, he’s in need of treats most times. So we always seem to have cookies or ice cream in the apt. I will say that when I do have a treat, I can go for weeks without another. It’s a crazy mentality, but it’s helped me figure out other ways to quench my cravings. And when I do treat myself, I won’t need another treat for a long time.

    This makes me think though, that maybe this is why most people like treat/cheat meals/days. They usually have their one time a week where they can give in and then they can go another week. I tried doing this, but I don’t know…I’d rather just not think about a treat until I’m REALLY thinking about a treat. I just don’t think about treats these days because I’m used to not having them. Although, a treat for me is something sweet and I can get sweetness in a piece of fruit, a smoothie or something healthy. I’m glad I’ve gotten to this point!

    I’m writing a book, but yea, as much as my method helps me stay on track, it drives me crazy! lol

    1. I definitely think it is a personal decision on what works based on your brain. I know for many of us we weren’t necessarily taught lessons on nutrition or why we eat what we eat growing up. Because it wasn’t really a thing. I see articles now where a mom puts a kid on a diet and people throw sticks at her, but you can tell she is trying to figure out how to address her kid’s health in a good way and who knows how to do that???

      I am like you – as I have changed what I eat my taste buds have changed. I can have a big bowl of fruit for dessert and be satisfied or just a few bites of a “real” dessert and be okay now. I think it takes time like you said – you kind of have to wade through what makes you tick to figure it out. My goal though is to be in a place where I don’t have to think as much…train my natural tendencies to be live in moderation. Is that possible? I definitely like to believe so because well it’s my goal, LOL. But I will see I guess.

      1. Totally forgot I wrote on here! lol! Yea, moderation is possible and you’ll get there. I know I’m retraining my brain to get back to that place myself. It’s hard, but it’s possible!

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