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Do You Nutritionally Cheat?

Exams or during a board game with a high level of friendly competitiveness, I hardly tried out new means to outmanoeuvre the law. Using my creative ways to circumvent authority or my best friend through sneaky tactics.

But when I did it, it was extremely well thought through. In close collaboration with a fellow conspirator, we had found a way to share answers during multiple-choice tests by using hand signals and various movements of our bodies.

It was one of these brilliant ways to get my grades up without getting caught. Sadly, the multiple-choice exams slowly faded away when reaching the end of my academic years. It was studying hard and long, and getting all the stuff crammed in my head was the only solution. Hard times but honest play prevailed. 

Cheating is a thing of the past. An innocent yet fun-filled aim to lighten up the mood dabbles here and there in my daily life. But not on the level that I have to come up with hocus pocus methods to make my message heard and goal achieved without any bystanders getting a whiff of it. Time to catch the cheater is no longer the name of my game.

The funny thing about cheating is doing something that does not belong in a specific field of play. It boosts the favours in the direction of one camp in getting that much-headed advantage to win the game or tackle the problem easier. We do something that is against the law, not aligned with the written rules. And when caught, the consequences are pretty much not in one’s favour. 

All the above sketches something we all have done and tried, or thought about one day in our lives. Using clever ways to manipulate actions in our direction. What we can do to change the odds in our favour. Is there a shortcut or a card up our sleeves we can pull when needed? 

If you take the above into account, cheat meals give the reader the idea that one has devoured something that should not be on the menu. Call it a reward, a moment of losing control and succulently dig in the “forbidden” before heading back on the road to thrive-dom. Capturing the definition of “cheating” in a time you want to lose some weight, I cannot see the alignment with what cheating actually refers to. Do you break the Law of Nutritional Values and will be punished for deeds of unlawful behaviour?

I don’t think so.

A couple of moons ago, I was a firm believer to confess my nutritional sins. Call it a lack of discipline, or a true sense of guilt; it was unclear why health goals faded away in favour of those two rum-raisin ice creams. I felt I let my coach down because his instructions were clear. Keep your protein intake high, drop your overall carb intake, inhale your dietary fats and load up on your veggies. Like a drill sergeant, I followed orders. My goal was clear. My tasks and habits were laid out in front of me. Abiding by his ‘commands’, I slipped here and there with a sense of guilt. 

Those were my moments of weakness, and adding them under the chapter ‘cheat meals’.

When going in-depth in the fascinating art of nutrition coaching, there were some supplementary chapters about how cheat meals – in any form, be it shape, size, or snackable volume they come in – can heavily impact one’s views on eating healthy. And by healthy, I do mean healthy. Throwing all overboard like fishing trawlers throwing under-aged crab back into the deep to bloom further into adulthood, it is not a healthy thing when one erases such indulgences out of one’s life.

And it does make a lot of sense to cast away the word cheat meal out of your vocabulary. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding cheat meals.

It all revolves around balance. Perfection does not exist. We have a life to live that includes enjoying food and drinks that make us connect with our friends, family and cultural heritage. It may not fall any longer under your daily intake when aiming to shrink your midsection. But there is always a place and time for these delectable moments.

The nutrition industry, and especially those partitioning strict diet plans, does exactly this. These clean strategies enforce you to almost kick out all that is deemed a cheat meal. This has resulted in not only the well-known yo-yo dieting but also mindfully ignoring those things you like to eat or drink. 

There are no bad or good foods. There are less-favourable or more-preferable types of food out there that align with your end goal. And your cold brew and favourite ice cream fit in this context. If you can rise above the feeling of a cheat day and the misconceptions around meals with this label, you’re on the right path.

Again, it is all about balance. 

Eradicating the words cheat meal has been part of my coaching strategy. There is no need to blame your weakness for Gummy Bears or that / those gin-tonic(s) on a Saturday evening and feel all guilty about it.

For me, there are no misconceptions around cheat meals. Just include our mutually defined principles, and you slip and slide you off the path to thrive.

Eating good food is, to me, one of life’s greatest joys, and I will never punish myself for it | Miriam Shor

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