Friday, 13 January 2017

Why I Don't Agree With 'Cheat Meals/Days'

Hello my lil chickpeas. I have a slightly ranty/negative post today. It's also quite a long one... but bare with me, okay, haha. It's something many of you might not agree with however I hope it can give you a lil bit of a different insight and maybe just maybe I can change your mind.

So, let talk 'Cheat Meals' or 'Cheat Days' something you're probably quite familiar with, especially in the fitness industry amongst many athletes, fitness experts or personal trainers. AHHHH even hearing the word makes me want to scream and cringe! It's basically a case where you eat 'good' or 'clean' all of the week only to then splurge out on typically junk food such as biscuits, chocolate, sweets, cake, burgers, fatty foods packed with god knows what because you feel like you deserved it. Only to feel miserable and sick after and go back to the 'clean' eating you view as such a chore. 

I've been down the route believe me. I had a typical 'clean eating' chicken and broccoli diet only to then binge out massively on things with no nutritional value, which I probably didn't even really want. Supposedly these 'Cheat Meals/Days' are there to allow you to feel less deprived however I couldn't disagree more. I feel like it implicates a completely unhealthy relationship with food and actually increases the idea of feeling deprived. 

When wanting to change your lifestyle, maybe become a little healthier and fitter, one thing you want is something you enjoy. Something that is sustainable, that is going to leave you feeling energised, happy and never ever restricted. This whole process is a lifestyle, not a 'diet' or something you feel you 'have' to do, otherwise I feel you're setting yourself up for failure. Food shouldn't be viewed as 'good' and 'bad' or something you feel like you're punishing or rewarding yourself with. It isn't the enemy. It's fuel. These 'cheat meals/days' I feel are actually taking you away from a healthy and balanced lifestyle which you're after. 

Let's look at the word 'cheat'. The word 'cheat' actually claims that you have done something wrong. For example when you 'cheat' on a test or 'cheat' on your partner, so when you have these 'cheat' meals are you basically 'cheating' your diet? When your diet's one purpose is there to help you and fuel your body. The body keeping you alive. You aren't a 'bad' person because you wanted a few cookies or a few of your favourite sweets.  You aren't a 'good' person because you ate one Kale salad or a green juice. The only difference is the nutritional benefit they give to your body. Again I love a good Green juice but I also have a weakness for Raw brownies. But I should never feel guilty for loving both. And hey, whats so wrong with actually enjoying food that nourishes your body?? Why ON EARTH have we developed this stigma that healthy food is boring, it's never has to be!

'It's finding and doing what works for you. There is no right or wrong'

Now let's look at the idea of 'healthy'. I believe being healthy is multiple factors brought into one. It involves a healthy body and a healthy mind. It's the food you place into your body, making sure you're doing and eating things you enjoy, eating things that make you feel good and taking time for yourself, family, friends, work etc. The whole idea is balancing these in order to help your create a happier and enjoyable life. Whether this means fuelling your body with plenty of nutrients one day and eating a little too much chocolate the next or working out 5 days a week one week and just 2 the next. Again it's all that balancing act. But that shouldn't be limited to 'forcing yourself' or restricting to one day. You shouldn't feel the need to be 'good' all week to then 'eat what you want' at the weekend. What kind of lifestyle is that? One that is giving your and your mind rules. Rules we aren't meant to have. That's where the mindset comes in. Which many of us have completely wrong. 

Like I stated, being truly healthy means a healthy body and a healthy mind. So the psychological view you have toward your diet and food is really important. Does it sound 'healthy' to you if you're eating well to fuel and support your body yet are filled with guilty, restricted thoughts towards the food you eat for pleasure or with less nutritional value? Well classing these foods you're claiming to be a 'cheat' is basically that. Believe it or not this classification now is actually recognised as an eating disorder 'orthorexia' something I have badly battled with. It's more common that you think in many women and men. It all comes down to that unhealthy relationship you've developed with food.

Really when it comes down to it like I said above food is fuel. You should enjoy it and cherish it. Our bodies weren't programmed to follow such 'rules'. It should't be classed or viewed as a punishment or something you feel you have to 'burn off'. And I don't believe you should ever stop yourself having a cheeky piece of chocolate with a glass of wine or a burger out with your best friend on a Tuesday night or in my case lots of peanut butter because I god damn feel like it. Why should the food you place into your body ever feel like a 'cheat'? It's not wrong! If you chuck these rules out the window, you probably won't even feel the urge to 'cheat.'

You shouldn't be waking up in the morning thinking 'I have to do this' and 'I have to do that'. Food isn't good and it isn't bad, it isn't naughty and nice, just some has more nutritional value than others. If you're fuelling yourself with wholesome, energising food... you'll come to see how amazing it makes your feel, along with your chocolate and your cake. You know what your body needs and when it needs it. Think of it like being in love. It's easy, nutritious, exciting, colourful, delicious, you're going to want to commit to it. When you commit to someone you love you don't involve a 'cheat' day.

I think it's so important we stop this bizarre classification between food. Let's stop the guilt and focus on the wonderful things it allows us to do and feel.  Have your veggies to give your body the vital things it needs but have your chocolate too because it's good for the soul. BUT, have them when YOU want them. That's my motto anyway. 

What are your thoughts on 'cheat meals/days?' I'd like to know.