There's no such thing as cheating
There's No Such Thing as
By Chad Tackett, President of Global Health and
There's no right or wrong way to eat. Healthy
eating is all about motivation, balance, and flexibility. There will be
times when you eat a high-fat meal or eat beyond fullness, or when your
schedule gets so busy that you miss a work- out. This happens. It's normal.
But it's very important that you don't get down on yourself and abandon your
new healthy lifestyle when this happens.
If you're like most people, your reaction to these
diet/ fitness obstacles is guilt. You feel as if all your hard work has been
for nothing. "I blew it; I was doing so well. Oh well, I might as well enjoy
this weekend and start over on Monday." Or even worse: "I just don't have
the motivation or will power to start over and be successful. I quit."
Feeling defeated, many people discontinue the healthy living and return to
their old routine until some mythical time in the future: "Maybe this spring
will be a better time to start over again." This kind of scenario is a
perfect example of the diet mentality at work.
An all-or-nothing attitude is why so many people
have so little success; we choose structured programs because they relieve
us from making choices for ourselves. A properly designed program makes
sense, but expecting to stick to a structured eating and exercise plan for
an extended period of time without ever deviating makes no sense at all. In
fact, this is so unrealistic as to be a set-up for failure. If you begin to
change your habits with the assumption that any deviation from your plan
will ruin it, you might as well not even begin. Life is full of unplanned
obstacles, distractions, and temptations. Your best approach is to prepare
for them, keeping an open mind and maintaining a positive attitude.
It's very important that you begin your healthier
lifestyle with an understanding that there will be days when you will stray
from healthy eating and exercising. Before you begin, tell yourself that no
matter what happens, rather than abandoning your new lifestyle, you'll
resume your healthy habits as soon as you can; it is equally important that
you feel confident, not guilty, about doing so. What- ever the temptation or
obstacle is, keep in mind that it's not wrong or bad to eat fattening foods
once in a while or to miss a workout. Just remember to resume your healthy
lifestyle. If you keep moving forward and you don't let guilt and
discouragement stop your program all together, you'll eventually have
improved eating and exercise habits.
With this approach, there is no such thing as
cheating. When we feel we are cheating, we often punish ourselves; we make
ourselves feel guilty, frustrated and defeated. Replacing the negative
concept of "cheating" with the idea of "straying from healthy habits" takes
away the all-or- nothing emphasis on right and wrong. If you treat every
deviation from your plan as a failure, you won't get very far
Substituting the idea of a brief straying away from
your plan instead of feeling guilty, and learning to return more and more
quickly to healthier habits, is more realistic. It's also easier and more
In the non-diet approach, all foods are legal.
There are no "good" foods or "bad" foods. You must believe this. Sudden
changes and/or drastic restrictions of high fat foods when you have a
preference or craving for fat will result in feelings of deprivation. No one
can or should go through life depriving themselves of foods they really
enjoy. You must learn how to make gradual healthy changes to the foods you
love while experimenting with and learning to appreciate new flavors and
A recent survey showed that more than 75 percent of
people feel guilty about eating so-called "bad" foods. The greatest obstacle
to adopting healthy eating habits is guilt. Attaching a value to foods only
makes you feel bad for eating them. When you do decide to eat a high-fat
food, enjoy it. Don't beat your- self up over it. Just make a special effort
to eat low-fat the rest of the day. Remember, there is nothing wrong with
splurging now and then. It can even be good for you if the satisfaction of a
higher-fat meal that you've been craving helps you stick with a low-fat
lifestyle the rest of the time.
If you're having a special diet meal that's
different from what the rest of your family or friends are eating, you'll
feel as though you're being punished. In order to be successful in changing
your eating habits, you must look forward to and enjoy each meal you eat.
This doesn't mean that you have to learn to like rice cakes and celery. It
means you must learn how to make simple changes in the foods you love.
Perhaps one of your favorite meals is fried
chicken, a baked potato, and salad. Small changes in how the food is
prepared can turn this traditionally high-fat meal into a low-fat well-
balanced one. Simply marinating a skinless chicken breast in sweet and sour
sauce, rolling it in bread crumbs, and baking it makes the chicken a lot
less fattening than if it's fried. Instead of butter or regular sour cream
on your potato, try low fat or non fat sour cream or a reduced fat ranch
dressing. Try using a non fat or low fat salad dressing rather than a
regular dressing and adding as many vegetables to your salad as possible for
their additional flavor, texture and nutrients. Any or all of these changes
drastically reduce the amount of fat in the meal without sacrificing flavor
or feelings of satisfaction.
Healthy eating patterns can only occur when you're
enjoying all the foods you eat. If you're eating low-fat foods just to be
healthy but without enjoying the flavors and textures or how they make you
feel, this most likely won't be a permanent change. However, if you begin
enjoying healthy foods, you're far more likely to stick with healthy eating
Many people also enjoy eating out but associate
this with being "bad" or eating "illegal" foods. Fortunately, it is very
possible to eat a healthy, low-fat meal in a restaurant. You don't need to
forego your favorite foods or eat before you go out with friends or family.
The same decision-making process occurs whether you eat at home or go out to
a restaurant. Many people think that they have two options when eating:
eating for taste and pleasure or eating for health. As you learn and
practice healthy eating techniques, these two options will become one and
the same. Good luck and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a healthy,
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