It's Time To Stop Eating "Cheat Meals"

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One of the first steps to food freedom is learning that you are making choices with your food, not “cheating,” eating a cheat meal, or being “bad” with your food. When you change the language you use around food, your relationship with food changes.

Cheating should be reserved for the actions it is rightly associated with like cheating on a test or cheating on a significant other….NOT food. But a large majority of our culture has this mindset. Google “cheat meals” and over 43 million results come up.

You are not making a terrible choice with your food, you are making a choice to enjoy “treats,” “soul foods,” “play foods,” or whatever positive word you want to choose for less nutritious food choices. They are NOT “bad” choices or cheat meals.

Honoring your health should absolutely be a part of your choices around food this upcoming Labor Day weekend. For example, if gluten makes you sick, skip it and bring gluten-free treats you can enjoy. But skipping something that you WANT to eat because you are AFRAID of the food and there is no health reason to avoid it, is an important distinction.

Don’t get lost in diet culture that claims you can never enjoy food (I’m looking at you carbs and sugar) or you will have a body you hate, poor health, and a sugar addiction.

In fact, the exact opposite is true.

When food doesn’t own you and is not just rules you blindly follow, you can in fact make intentional choices that not only honor your health but also honor your soul and celebrate community and life.

Eating dessert this weekend is not being “so bad” or “cheating” or “wrecking” your diet. In fact, as long as you own your choices, eat what you REALLY want (don’t eat something out of guilt), and you stay present while you eat it and savor the food, it will, in fact, enhance your health, not decrease it.

Studies show that people who label dessert as a “celebration” stay at a healthier weight as opposed to people who labeled dessert as “bad.”

Even cooler yet, studies have been done to see what would happen to food intake if dessert was eaten first instead of last and the results were very surprising! In this study, participants traveled through a cafeteria line that either had an indulgent dessert—cheesecake—or a healthy dessert—fresh fruit—at the beginning of the line or at the end of it. What happened?

Researchers found that when participants chose an indulgent dessert before their main meal, they ended up picking healthier foods than those who chose the healthier dessert first and those who chose either dessert last.

Those who chose the cheesecake before picking their main entrée also consumed an average of 30% fewer calories than those who picked the fruit dessert first—and that’s including the calories from the dessert!

What’s more, compared to those who selected cheesecake at the end of the line, those who chose the cheesecake first were also twice as likely to order a meal like grilled chicken fajitas and a side salad meal over the fried fish and french fries.

We naturally know how to balance ourselves if we allow it, but more importantly, when we allow ourselves to indulge without labeling it “bad,” it removes the black and white thinking that makes us label it a “failure” decision, and instead creates a sustainable lifestyle that you enjoy.

You have my full permission to eat dessert first this weekend.