You and your diet were on a break!!!
First off if you get the reference from my post title then I love you. Second, this is me explaining why calling it a cheat meal/cheat day kinda makes me roll my eyes. Before I get started I just want to say that I’m still working on removing that phrase from my own lexicon, so I indeed roll my eyes at myself and I don’t want you people to think I am attacking you all and being holier-than-thou. Now with that disclaimer out of the way let me explain.
The more people in the field of nutrition that I meet and learn from, the more I become aware of the effect language has on mindset and people’s relationship with food. The word cheat has a very negative connotation that is associated with some hefty consequences. In school, especially colleges, if you are caught cheating you can get expelled. In relationships if someone is found to be cheating trust is lost and the relationship may even come to an end. When we refer to cheating on one’s diet we immediately think of eating ‘bad’ food. This thought process and phraseology can lead to individuals having unhealthy relationships with food. Everyone is different, no one is the same, and thus no one should eat the exact same foods and in the exact same way. Someone’s diet should be individualized and made to meet the needs of the individual, and so if someone wants to eat a burger or have some cookies for a meal than that’s cool. This person is meeting a specific need or desire. Having a burger every single meal or eating 5 cookies every time you walk into the kitchen is not the best nutritional decision one can make(But this is a whole other post topic in itself). Lets say someone has 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables with every meal they eat throughout the week along with lean meats, hearty-whole grains, and essential fats, and little to no processed foods and refined sugars; and Saturday this individual just wants to enjoy time with friends and they go out to dinner at the best burger place in their area and finish at their local creamery for dessert. Most people in that situation would say, sounds like a great cheat meal/cheat day, but there will always be that negative connotation that is pinned to the word cheat, and that could lead to some feel bad about making those food choices.
The phrase cheat day/cheat meal has to go. I am personally working on not using that phrase myself. You aren’t doing something bad or something wrong when you eat something that might not align with your normal dietary choices, you are merely living. So instead of calling it a cheat meal/cheat day, why not try calling it a free meal/free day, or a no-strings-attached meal/day, or a break meal/break day, or even…wait for it… a day/a meal. It is okay, like I said, to eat something that doesn’t align with your whole-food, non-processed, organic, little to no refined sugar, or whatever nutritional/dietary food choice plan you ‘follow’. Just remember the next time you stray, and your diet tries to make you feel bad for that, remind it you guys were on a break and you did nothing wrong. You were and are free to make your own choices independent of it when you decide you need a break. If you don’t believe me just ask Ross 😉