Playing off of theme I've been talking about lately (calories, rants, etc) comes today's topic - cheat meals.
I used to have a coworker that asked me every time he saw me if I ever have cheat meals. It made me smile, but in all honesty, the answer was always no. I don't have cheat meals.
I don't have cheat meals because I believe in eating what I want, when I want of the foods that make me feel good. Over the past few years, I've determined which foods do and don't work for me (chocolate being one of the latter foods...it's so sad).
Therefore, when faced with the decision to eat or not eat a food, it's always been quite simple. If a food doesn't work with my body, I won't eat it. If it does work okay with my body, I will eat it.
The term "cheat meal" implies that the foods that you typically eat during a cheat meal are "bad" and the foods you eat on a regular basis are "good."
While yes it may be true that some foods are better than others, we all have the ability to make conscious decisions each day withOUT guilt or shame associated with those choices.
If you want to eat something, eat it and ACCEPT the consequences (or lack thereof) that come with it. Creating a false pretense of guilt and shame and the idea that you somehow need to punish or "work off" the foods you just ate is utter nonsense. It doesn't work that way.
The guilt and shame cycle only perpetuates the dieting culture and mindset that is so prevalent in society. And like I talked about on Monday, that is getting us nowhere fast.
Instead, I encourage you to listen to what your body really wants and needs, especially when you fuel it with real, whole foods. The only reason we have cravings and the need for cheat meals is because we try and restrict ourselves too tightly (1200 calories, no fat, etc) and fill our plates with processed, refined, seemingly "healthy" foods.
I'll be the first to admit most people would take one look at my diet currently and say that it is so restricting, but honestly, I don't view it that way. Yes, I can't eat a lot of foods, but that's my conscious decision. I don't enjoy appearing pregnant, dealing with headaches, and not sleeping at night. It's not fun, so the foods that cause those symptoms in my life are foods that I choose not to eat.
Instead, I look at all the foods I CAN eat - meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and lots and lots of avocados. These foods fuel me. They make me feel good.
The reality behind cheat meals forces us to confront our own relationship with food. Do you see food as a daily struggle or something that "makes you fat?" Or do you see food as FUEL for your body - what it truly needs to thrive and feel its healthiest?
Once you make that mindset shift and cut out the guilt and shame BS, you'll find that you don't need cheat meals. You'll find you don't need to justify yourself for choosing to eat or not eat certain foods.
Instead, hopefully what you'll find is balance.