There is something wrong in the world of Nutrition. Something that in my opinion is severely impeding the progress of many. That something is not the lack of information, the “correct” macronutrient ratios, the proper template, supplements, or even the terrible mass media marketing of “healthful” foods. This situation is, in my humble opinion, the worst of them all. It goes against the fundamental psychology of success breeding success. It does not edify people it makes them feel terrible. This something takes individuals who are doing so well in an area and halts the progress almost immediately. So what is it? The word or term Cheat or Cheat Meal.
You might be saying right now how can a word or term impede the progress of Healthful nutrition. You may be someone who has used this term throughout their nutritional life and had success. Good for you. I am not saying here that you cannot be successful and include this in your vocabulary at all. I am saying that for the vast majority out there the term itself is killing their relationship with food. Think about it. How good does a relationship do when you cheat on your partner. The cheat could have been a one time thing and you may never tell a sole. It may be something that your consistently doing. It may have been a binge over one weekend that you are justifying as ok. After all you went 5 years without ever Cheating or thinking of cheating right? Need another example? How about the time that you cheated on that workout and every time you look at the board and see your name at the top you know it’s a lie. The time that you cheated on the test to pass the class. The term CHEAT is negative period. It is surrounded by feelings of guilt, failure, wrong doing or simply being BAD.
The funny thing is we like to set up nutrition plans that have planned cheat meals, cheat days and days that you get to let go of all personal accountability. I feel that when I have done this in the past I have set my clients up for failure. I have positioned them to believe that any meal outside the “recommended list” is wrong. That you have to EARN your enjoyment. Are we really training our clients with the same reward system we used with our children when they were 5. Put a star on the board overtime you do good and get 7 stars and I will let you have any piece of candy out of the basket you would like. Maybe that works for some but I say there is a better way and it is easy. Instead of creating a system that says this is good and this is bad and you can earn bad. We can empower our clients to learn who to have a healthy relationship with food. Help them to discover through assessments and objective measures how food make them feel, how they perform and overall quality of life. We can help them create for themselves a set of practices that best help them meet their goals. Our coaching does not have to change from the science we have help them implement before. We simply have to change one term. We simply have to eliminate the word CHEAT!
It’s almost too simple to believe. By changing the word CHEAT to CHOICE we empower our clients to make decisions. We teach our clients and help them through our coaching to learn how a CHOICE of ice cream on the weekends affects their performance, body com and mood. Once they understand the result of that choice they can then say I am choosing to have this Ice Cream today with the family and be done with it. The following meal can be right back in line with their goals. When they wake up in the morning sluggish they know why, they expected it and they move forward. NO GUILT ATTACHED. No statements like “I know that I am not supposed to be doing this” or “this is so bad” or “I deserve this since I have been so good.” It’s the guilt, the restriction, the ignoring the cravings of the body that are the bad part. A Cheat is not always a bad meal either. You may have said that you do not eat “Grains” but happen to be craving some rice. Unless rice makes you feel terrible a cup of rice is not going to set you back in your goal accomplishment. In fact, it could propel you forward. More on that in another article.
Honestly, I could go on all day about this but I won’t. I will be writing more on the topic again. I will be making it my personal mission to help others realize that this simple terminology is stalling our progress. It’s not a CHEAT it’s a CHOICE. Lets stop restricting and start educating and empowering. Lets remove the negativity from food exploration and increase the ability for people to discover. Let’s start a revolution of a different way of thinking. Let’s get people thinking about their food instead of following. Lets be within the pack instead of standing in from of the pack dictating. Let’s guide and learn together. A healthy relationship starts with appropriate COMMUNICATION! Let’s start Communicating!!!!!