3 Reasons Why a “Cheat Diet” is NOT a Good Idea
Pay attention. You’re about to cheat on your diet.
1) A cheat diet works within the principles of limitations instead of flow. We hate limits, and here is why you should too: When you bring awareness to your body’s natural rhythms and allow yourself to flow in harmony with Mother Nature, you allow yourself to eat what your body needs for its authentic physical, mental and spiritual health. Setting an intention to resist your natural flow with a restrictive diet, then giving yourself permission to “cheat” on that diet X amount of times per week defeats the whole purpose of attempting to thrive in life through conscious living.
2) You’ve just applied a dogma to your nutritional habits. Establishing a system of rules for your nutrition is creating your own personal diet dogma – and that’s bad. “I am a health nut all week, but I allow myself pizza and cupcakes on the weekend.” When you establish this type of pattern of behavior, despite your good intentions, you inadvertently establish poor nutritional habits. Your body usually desires nutrient-rich food; it’s your emotions that crave something else. If you force pizza and cupcakes down your throat every weekend “because you can,” you’re likely resisting your body’s natural instincts and overriding them with your own dogmatic pattern. Your body will pay you back.
3) It takes the “awareness” out of eating. Let’s take a look at the allegorical example of the pizza and cupcake weekend. Our minds (not necessarily our bodies) love patterns of behavior; They provide feelings of comfort and stability. As much as you might think that your awareness of your body’s needs is going to override any patterns of behavior you have established, that’s not generally how the mind works. Even if you believe that you are generally eating with nutritional awareness of what your body truly needs, you just overrode all that when you established a dogmatic approach to eating. Bottom line is – your body may be screaming for optimum healthy choices, but your mind is hard-set in favor of junk food.
So why does someone want a Cheat Diet to begin with? And how can you thrive with vitality while maintaining flexibility? That’s what flow is all about, right?
The “Cheat Diet” came about as a means of addressing highly restrictive and often nutritionally imbalanced depravation diets where little awareness was brought to authentic nutritional needs. All protein, no-carb, high-carb, no fat, very low-calorie, pure raw, etc. – The Diet Dogmas. At the end of the week, your mind, body and spirit are crying out! The answer? Give yourself a cheat day or two just so you can “survive” the forthcoming agonizing week. The better solution?
Apply the “80/20” rule. Ensure you are eating for optimum nutritional health 80 percent of the time. That does NOT mean plan to work in 20 percent of garbage throughout your week. What it does mean is that while you are bringing your awareness to your authentic physical, mental and emotional nutritional needs, if one spontaneous night you have the desire to kick back with a pizza, or an ice cream on a warm spring day sounds amazing – ask yourself – have I eaten optimally 80% of my week? Yes? Good. Then your 20% is your free pass. No guilt. No remorse. Go for it. Life is good. Have fun. Enjoy! Thrive! If, on the other hand, your awareness of your eating patterns tells you that you are consistently desiring or getting over that 20% cap, it’s time to sit down and address that. And we’ll talk about how to do that in a future blog.
If you’re interested in learning how to practice the 80/20 rule and apply principles of intuitive eating check out our Nutrition Coaching.