I’m guilty of it too…I eat a little piece of chocolate or sleep in instead of going to the gym and I tell my husband that I “cheated.”
But is it really cheating?
Cheating involves a dishonest act in order to win a game or save money (as in cheating on taxes) or having a secret love affair. Cheating connotes some sort of victimization of another person or a company and it is usually a secret. Are you really going to tell your friend that you are cheating her at monopoly? When I eat that piece of chocolate I’m not hiding it from anyone and I’m not hurting another person.
I think we love this term because it absolves us of wrongdoing…BUT it also is super demoralizing
It’s like that old trope of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. When we call eating off our diet protocol “cheating” we blame our bad nature and that helps us distance ourselves from the act. And, since cheating involves keeping a secret, I think we like to pretend that we are getting away with something.
The term cheating also has a kind of moralistic tone to it. I’ve heard many clients refer to sticking to their diet as good as in “I’ve been good this week” or “I was bad this week” as if there is something inherently morally superior to sticking to diet. Thinking in this fashion can be demoralizing.
Instead…take control and OWN your choices
When it comes to a diet or any lifestyle choice, you are either consistent or not consistent with your plan and your results (or lack there of) will show accordingly. Instead of saying “I cheated” or “I was bad” consider saying “I chose to have a treat” or “I made a mistake and I’m going to move on and get back on plan” or “I’m on a journey and I am bound to make mistakes.” Isn’t that so much more empowering and less demoralizing?
And, when do you go of course, learn from it
If you keep referring to this act as “cheating” you are much less likely to take responsibility and less likely to benefit from the experience.
- why did I go off plan (was I bored, tired, anxious etc.)?
- Did that ___ (cookie, muffin, potato chip) solve my problem ? Remember, the ONLY problem that food actually solves is the problem of hunger.
- If not…what can I do to help with my problem? For more on this topic check out my blog post here.
- What happened to me physically when I ate that _____ (pizza, popcorn, ice cream, etc.). Was it totally AMAZING? Did I feel like a million bucks?
And, if you do have the occasional treat for goodness’ sake, drop the the guilt and ENJOY IT!!
You are a human in a human body and it is natural to enjoy life’s pleasures!