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Clients will often ask me, “Do you ever cheat”?
What comes to mind when I hear that word is cheating on your spouse, cheating at sports, cheating on tests and my answer is absolutely not. I despise cheating and people that do; it seems they have no honor or integrity.
On the other hand, when it comes to food, I do “indulge” from time to time. Occasional indulgences enable me to maintain a healthy nutritional lifestyle year round without feeling deprived. It’s realistic.
Unless you make your living in fitness and sport, maintaining a 24/7 “perfect” nutritional lifestyle 365 days a year is neither fun nor healthy. Even fitness competitors/athletes indulge at certain times. I find the 80/20 rule to work beautifully.
Let’s take a quick glance at the difference between cheating and indulging to further clarify.
- To “cheat is to deceive somebody or break rules for personal advantage, to be unfaithful or trick, con or swindle, defraud.
- To “indulge” is to have or permit or allow yourself a treat, to experience something enjoyable. To yield to desires in an excessive degree, to give free rein, take unrestrained pleasure.
To me “indulge” is a much better descriptive term of what straying from my typical nutritional intake means than the negative connotations implied by the word “cheating”. But an even more relevant question remains. . . is “indulging” right for everyone?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you healthy?
- Are you at a healthy weight and one that you are comfortable with?
- Are you free of autoimmune disease and metabolic syndrome?
- Are you free of hormonal and adrenal issues?
If the answers to all these questions are yes we can look at incorporating “indulging” into our maintenance program–later.
If the answers to any of those questions are no, then I would not recommend “indulging”.
I will have clients on medications (for diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol) that are 50+ lbs overweight eat decently for 5 days and then ask me “when do I get a cheat day”?
Wise up–how do you think you got where you are in the first place. Call it what you want–“lack of compassion or self-promoting” but I call it tough love.
People come to me to get in shape and become healthy. This is not romper room, you need to take a good hard look at reality and realize what these negative nutritional habits are doing to your health. I’m not going to do anyone a favor by sugar-coating it (no pun intended).
Folks who are in bad shape health-wise need to follow a strict nutritional program until they have resolved their health and weight issues and then we can take a look at a maintenance program.
There is no “cheating” or “indulging” until you are well!
You will need to refrain from certain foods that other healthy people do not. Get with it, get well, and then we go from there.
Healthy Indulgences 101
Many of you reading this blog are not sick and overweight so how do you incorporate normal and healthy indulging into your nutritional lifestyle? It is not black and white; there is a lot of grey. Fifty shades perhaps, but lots of grey nonetheless.
You can structure this in any manner but most of us have weekends off and those would be our preferred days to indulge. It’s the 80/20 rule or 70/30, 90/10–we’re all different and at different places. I’m personally at 85/15–it works for me.
During the week I am in a set routine, set workout structure and my eating is pretty spot on. I enjoy my food during the week but rarely feel deprived. Come Friday evening I’m ready for a little bit of decadence.
Pick your “pleasure”, for some it is alcohol, others sweets and for some bread, pasta and other grains. Choose one and splurge but not to the point of gluttony. And not a weekend-long binge, pick one or 2 meals. Come Sunday evening you are back on track with a healthy dinner and a good night’s sleep to start the week.
My “pleasure” is usually a homemade dessert, grits, biscuits, or Southern cornbread. But never all of them in a short period of time.
Do I enjoy these things every day or even multiple times a week? Of course not. That would be overdoing it for me and undoubtedly make me fat.
When Indulgence Becomes Harmful
What should you not indulge in–ever?
By garbage foods, I mean processed junk such as anything that comes in a bag or box. Man has screwed it up, period. No chips, Doritos, Fritos, or other stuff (even vegetables) fried at high temperatures in rancid oils.
No fast food, artificial sweeteners, or store-bought desserts that along with the flour and sugar have chemicals and bad fats added. If you’re going to splurge make it yourself or purchase it at a healthier alternative store.
Maintain a comfortable weight–not a stage-ready weight; one that you feel comfortable with and look good in your summer gear yet don’t feel deprived of the pleasures of food. It’s a “happy place” and one that takes experimenting and time to find what works for you.
None of us are perfect nor should we strive for perfection. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and food and drink are a big part of our socializing. Be smart, choose wisely, and enjoy!
Raw cheese from a grass fed cow. I wouldn’t consider that indulging unless I had a large portion, I eat that on a regular basis. Now an organic chocolate bar–that’s an indulgence. I try opt for quality even when indulging.
Interesting Paula. I guess I like to call it cheating because I found it easier to say than indulging. It is the third syllable “ging” I have difficulty with. English is not my first language, and I have problem pronouncing some other sounds as well. From one thing to an other. What in your mind is the least unhealthy indulgence; a commercial, non organic, chocolate bar or a piece of cheese? Both having the same amount of calories. I lean towards the cheese, because it contains no sugar, although the saturated fat in cheese is probably more unhealthy than the kind of saturated cheese in chocolate. What is your opinion?
“saturated fat in chocolate” it should read.
Foods safer to “cheat”: GMO Fresh Tomatoes, Home Cooked Grains that you forgot to soak/sprout, Raw Cruciferous Vegetables
Foods a bit less safer to cheat: Farmed Fish, Conventional Meat, Pasteurized Milk, etc.
Foods RISKY to “cheat”: MSG Soups, Vegetable Oils, Margarine. Ultra Pasteurized Homogenized Milk, etc.
Perhaps someone can post an article on something like this……
Ummm I dont think there are GM tomatoes but if so…why would that be an ok cheat? Just asking.
I’m pretty sure somehow they have crack added in there… because they are SO addicting and SO delicious.
I used melted butter instead of grapeseed oil, raw organic honey instead of agave, and enjoy life chocolate chips.
Your welcome, and I’m sorry. I’m not sure which! Cuz they’re so good it’s bad!
My mother made zucchini bread with chocolate chips in it all while we were growing up. My brother was such a picky eater and he would DESTROY zucchini bread. Those muffins sound divine!
I say simple indulgence! Being off the wagon would be your choice or not. If healthy living has been a part of your life then you can always get out of, something like fastfood diet. The question now is, would it be hard or no sweat at all?
I agree and follow a practice that does not make indulging a regular practice, but just every once in awhile when it’s appropriate, I’ll have the cheesecake or whatever.
Especially when I’m at someone’s home for dinner. It’d have to be some pretty awful stuff for me not to eat it from a simple perspective of manners. That, and I’m seen as the fitness nut in my social circle so people are kind of waiting for me to be overly picky sometimes.
Years and years ago when I worked as a trainer however, I would try to get my clients to not set a regular indulgence or cheating schedule, and instead play it by ear. It seemed to me that setting a regular time for it kind of made the dessert or whatever a fixed part of their diet psychology. For instance, the idea of me drinking soda is just so completely alien that it just never occurs to me to do so, no matter what. But a piece of pie after dinner at a friend’s house? Sure, why not. The difference is in the mentality behind it. Leaving the sugary treat as part of one’s regular schedule seems a roadblock for some to truly changing their overall lifestyle. That’s my opinion though, and not something I would argue necessarily, but just something to consider.
I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment!
Far be it from me to contradict anybody with abs as beautiful as Paula’s on a matter of healthy eating, but when my husband and I did Weight Watchers we would save our bonus points and have a good restaurant dinner on Saturday nights. WW does not advocate a free for all with one’s bonus points, but if you count your bonus points as carefully as you do your daily allowance, and if you don’t exceed your overall budget, you CAN have a small occasional indulgence. That saag paneer at the Indian restaurant was next to heaven after the week of dieting.
While on WW my husband lost 35 pounds, and I lost about 25. Then I got pregnant. 🙂