What comes to mind when you think of the word “cheat”. How do you feel? Do certain feelings arise? And there do arise in your body. Take a deep breath and really focus in on this for a minute.
For me, the word “cheat” brings up anxiety and stress and I feel it in my heart and stomach. My heart beats just a little faster. It a word that is negative in my mind, and I know it is wrong to do. I’m sure most of us grew up being told that cheating was bad. We’re told not to cheat on tests, not to cheat to get ahead, or cheat people out of money, etc. You get the drift. Cheating is bad.
Now, let’s think about when we use the word “cheat” when it comes to eating. Have you used this word before when you’ve decided to eat something that you were told you shouldn’t? Maybe you’re on a diet trying to lose weight, you’re counting your points, calories, macros, etc. “I’m going to an event today, so this is my cheat-day.” “I’m cheating with this glass of wine.” If I asked people to raise their hand if they’ve ever used this term, my hand would be raised too. I’m right there with you.
When we use “cheat” to describe how we are eating it sends our minds and hearts a message…”you are doing something bad, wrong, shame on you, you are being naughty!” We need to release that and get rid of that term when it comes to eating. What we eat is a choice. Food itself is just food. It’s not good or bad. You are not good or bad for eating these foods. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a bowl of ice cream loaded with caramel, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and candy toppings is something you should eat every day. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pay attention to the nutritional value of foods. Foods do have a cause and effect on our bodies. Certain foods will give you life and help you thrive and others will end up causing disease. Cause and effect, not good and bad.
If you catch yourself saying it, notice how it makes you feel. We are so hard on ourselves. So much harder than we would be a someone we loved. I want you to show yourself a little grace. Don’t beat yourself up over saying it either. Just notice and be aware; that the first step in making change. Then instead of saying “I’m cheating today and eating fried chicken and French fries”, change that to “I’m choosing to eat fried chicken and French fries today.” This change in mindset is a game a changer! I hope you try it.
If any of this resonates with you and you want to learn more about mindful eating, check out my calendar of workshops and retreats.