We have all done it.
We have plans to go out to dinner with family and friends so we go to the gym the morning before in preparation for the excess calories…
Or the day after a night of indulging and drinking we wake up and make sure we get to the gym to burn off all the “bad” food we ate…
Diet culture makes us believe enjoying a night out with friends makes us a bad person, holidays make us fat, we should feel guilty and we need to punish ourselves by exercising away all the calories and restricting our food afterwards. If we put in the time at the gym it makes it okay to eat that extra serving of carbs or drink that glass of wine.
Once you get this mentality, you begin feeling like you need to earn every bit of food you put in your mouth regardless of its health status. The only way we feel okay about eating is if we have earned it.
Exercise should be enjoyable. Not Punishment.
I used to be this girl.
I went into my health journey with the intention of feeling better, not to lose weight, but once I noticed the numbers on the scale dropping I started becoming obsessive. I too began restricting calories and over-exercising in prep of social events or a night out with my, now, husband.
I would have to get in that 10 mile walk or 20 mile bike ride before dinner so I felt like I earned those 3 glasses of wine and that Au Cheval Burger and fries (ps. If you visit Chicago, put Au Cheval on your must-eat list.)
I had an extreme fear that I would gain 10lbs if I did not exercise before or after I ate something. Especially if it was out at a restaurant. If I knew I was not going to be able to workout pre or post, I would make sure to restrict what I was eating or not go out to dinner at all.
I would be on vacation and still need to get my workout in every single day as I would at home, well, because, extra calories and more drinks.
I can assure you, this is no way to live.
The fact is, you are not doing your body any favors and actually putting your body through more stress with all the negative self talk. It’s a fact, negative self talk causes more anxiety and stress, anxiety and stress cause weight loss resistance. You see where I am going here?
The stress we create around food can cause more harm than good. In my experience, stressing over the food I am eating or the next time I can hit the gym to work it off only caused digestive distress, bloating and un necessary anxiety. I started to believe I actually noticed a difference in my physique if I went out to dinner and over indulged a bit. Mind games.
Scientifically, it is not possible to gain weight from eating a few “cheat” meals.
If we all understood how our bodies worked we would be a whole lot more forgiving of ourselves.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way that we stop enjoying holidays and nights out with friends just to maintain a “perfect” figure or lose those few pounds.
Don’t waste 95% of your life to just weigh 5% less.
This brings me to two words I hate: Cheat Meals
A cheat meal is when you get to reward yourself at the end of a week by overindulging on anything and everything you want. Throwing that “diet” out the window for a day, or a weekend. Funny thing is, most people that have this “cheat meal” wake up feeling awful from overindulging therefore making them feel even more guilty about what they ate that in turn they punish themselves even more at the gym. Leading to more anxiety and stress, you see where I am going here?
I’ve been there…
When we eat a “cheat meal” we have this mentality that what we are doing is bad, that we are cheating on our diet and a cheat meal is a reward for making it through this tough week of healthy decisions that we don’t like doing in the first place.
This just means you don’t like what you are eating and you believe you can diet for a short period of time and then go right back to eating how you did previously.
My honest opinion, if you want to have long term success and reman healthy for the rest of your life, you need to quit using the word “cheat”. Instead you need to change your mentality to that you are making a conscious decision to treat yourself.
I personally choose to eat healthy the majority of the time because I like the way it tastes and I feel my best while doing so. I also know that I will have less doctor bills and health issues as I age but we can dive into that another day.
Diet vs. Lifestyle
There is a huge difference between diet and lifestyle. I know, everyone is sick of the word lifestyle, so cliche, but it is an appropriate word to use for someone that has transitioned to healthy habits for life. Once you make healthy eating and living a lifestyle there is no such thing as dieting or cheat meals. This mindset shift will not happen overnight, hell it took me a solid few years to realize this.
Contrary to popular belief healthy food is not boring, it might just take a little bit more effort on your part to find some good recipes. Trust me, if I ate chicken and broccoli daily, I would be all about cheat meals.
In my opinion, heathy eating and transitioning to making it a lifestyle is all about the quality of food vs. the calories consumed. You wont eat as much when you eat nutrient dense foods, your body will be satisfied and weight will normalize on its own.The key to maintaining a healthy weight and consistently feel good is not about a short term diet but making healthy decisions for life.
Find a way of eating that supports your lifestyle. Make food and movement fun.
I am now at a place in my life where regardless of any movement at all that day, if I want a few glasses of wine and a gluten free pizza, I am having it. Guess what, SHOCKER, I don’t gain weight or feel crappy after eating it. You know why? Because eating healthy is a lifestyle for me, I know damn well that I will go right back to my normal eating the following day or the following week or whenever I friggen feel like it.
Occasionally I choose to eat “unhealthy” foods like gluten free treats or pizza and there is nothing wrong with that. It is normal. There is no guilt, no binging or feeling like I am cheating or doing something bad because I am so satisfied and love the foods I eat on a daily basis.
With my nutritional therapy practice I hope to help people figure out what works for them so there is no more “cheat meals”, “dieting” and “restricting.” Because when I realized I don’t need to earn my food, it was the most absolute, freeing feeling of my life. I was no longer a slave to the diet culture surrounded by the concept of calories in, calories out.