A couple of months ago I overheard a conversation between two women in the gym’s locker room. One of them was explaining how she had not had any chocolate since the beginning of the year — it was September. However, she was going to cheat and have some chocolate on her birthday and on Thanksgiving. Yay!!
Do you know what I felt hearing that? I felt sad. I don’t even remember what this woman looked like. All I could think was how sad it is to limit eating your favorite foods to only a couple of days of the year. And even sadder is the idea of making holidays cheat days.
Don’t you deserve better than cheat days? Don’t you deserve to let your birthday, your loved ones’ birthdays, holidays, and other special days be about celebrations, and love, and freedom instead of cheating?
Definition of cheat
1 :to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
2 :to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice
When is cheating a positive thing? Based on the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, cheating has usually something to do with deceit, fraud, lack or breaking of trust, and tricks. Have you ever heard of someone cheating within a happy, fulfilling relationship? Has anyone ever cheated money without breaking trust? Then why do we keep thinking that cheat days are a good thing?
For one very simple reason: it’s a way to break free and go back to what you really want. Cheat days are the one time when you can find relief and breathing space — that’s why they seem so wonderful and positive, why you cannot wait to have one or more. But they come at a price…
I used to have cheating days. Birthdays, holidays, passing a test — these were all occasions when I would temporarily break free of my heavily guarded and rigid eating and eat whatever I wanted, with utter abandon. I counted down the days to cheat days. I obsessed about it. And once they were done, I wished I could have another one right away.
Those days were always accompanied by a single feeling: guilt.
Even though I was breaking no laws, I was defrauding nobody, and no one else was affected by my breaking the rules, I still felt guilty. Relentlessly guilty. I kept thinking that if I could be just a little stronger and more disciplined, then I could go without cheat days altogether.
Imagine if instead of trying to control my eating I wanted to control my peeing — yeah, I went there 😉 Imagine if I only allowed myself to pee on cheat days and I felt guilty for peeing too often during that day. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Yet, I expected to control my eating in much the same fashion! And that was because deep down I did not trust myself.
Cheating is the opposite of trusting. When you trust, you don’t cheat. If you trust your partner to be the one who can fulfill your needs in the relationship, you won’t need to cheat. If you trust yourself to manage money enough to live comfortably, you won’t have to cheat others out of their money. And if you trust yourself enough to give yourself permission to eat whatever you like, as much as you want, you won’t need cheat days ever again.
Cheating on a diet of any kind is obviously easier than trusting yourself. It’s also not less scary. And less risky. Yeah, trust is a hell of a lot more work than dieting and cheating and bingeing. But it’s worth it!
This holidays, embrace the one mindset shift that can change your life: recognize that you have to trust myself. Have to. No ifs, buts, or whens.
Trusting yourself means allowing yourself to make mistakes, to feel everything you feel, to eat what you like every day. Trusting yourself means looking inside yourself for the answers and trusting that those answers are right for you. What better gift could you give yourself this holidays? 🙂
Do you have cheat days? How do they affect your holidays and your life the rest of the year? I’d love to know all about it! Share in the comments below or email me at email@example.com
I was thinking yesterday about my journey from undiagnosed eating disorder, to Post Traumatic Stress…25 December 2017