There's a word that is turning up lately in regards to food that I find puzzling. That word is Cheating, as in, "I cheated and had a piece of chocolate cake." Or, "I'm on a cheat day, so I can meet you at Olive Garden!" The literal definition of cheating means defrauding or breaking a rule to gain an unfair advantage at something. How did we come to apply this word to an act of eating?
When we classify some foods as BAD and some as GOOD, we assign moral values to the eating of those foods. Chocolate cake is BAD and if I'm only supposed to eat foods in the GOOD category, I'm also BAD for eating it and therefore cheating. There are also many diet plans that specifically call out the dieter to have cheat meals or cheat days. There's an implication that the dieter has permission to be BAD during those times. All this assignment of moral value to the choosing of a piece of chocolate over a plate of green beans...it makes me squirm a little.
Rather than thinking of food in terms of GOOD and BAD, and acts of eating as either following the rules or cheating, how about we think of eating food that is less nutritious or more nutritious? And how about considering whether foods support our overall wellness--which may include the benefits of enjoying a piece of home made chocolate cake with family and friends on a special occation--or don't?
Let's take the concept of "cheating" out of eating!
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