I love getting together with friends. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s so nice to go out to eat and enjoy everyone’s company. On a recent night out, one of my friends was so excited about it being her “cheat” night. It took me a moment to realize that she was talking about her diet and the fact that she was able to eat whatever she wanted that night. Like most of my friends, I’m on a weight loss journey. I’ve been working on it for over 15 years. I have dieted, counted calories, worked out, taken medications, etc. It will be an ongoing struggle for the rest of my life and I am okay with that. What I am not okay with is the word “cheat” when it comes to dieting or making a lifestyle change.
When you hear the word cheat, what comes to mind? A child looking at another classmate’s paper, a person being intimate with someone other than his or her partner, or someone having an unfair advantage in a game or contest? When I looked up the definition of cheat, I saw that it means to act dishonestly or unfairly or avoid something by luck. Why is it that we use such a negative word when it comes to dieting and having a day (or night) of indulgence? We aren’t being dishonest or unfair and we definitely aren’t avoiding food!
Indulging once a week isn’t something to be ashamed about. It’s a time to enjoy a meal a little bit more. Dieting should be about moderation. I like the 80/20 rule—eat good, healthy foods 80% of the time and then 20% of the time indulge on what you want. Following this plan makes dieting sustainable. It also doesn’t make your indulgence feel like a reward for your lifestyle change.
We should feel proud when we achieve our health and wellness goals, and there’s no need to feel shame over the occasional indulgence. You are making and achieving goals toward health and wellness. You don’t have to feel like a cheater when you eat a brownie or have a cocktail if you’re following the 80/20 rule. That’s not going to undo all of your hard work over the past week. For example, last week I shared a dessert with five friends. We all enjoyed that indulgence and went back to our diet plans the next day.
I have found that I can eat my favorite things if I only have a couple bites. Food doesn’t always have to be healthy, just remember to enjoy in moderation and keep hitting those goals. What tips or rules do you follow for healthy weight loss? Head over to Facebook and let us know. We are all in this journey together.