"Do allow yourself a cheat day?"

I often receive the question, “Do you allow yourself a cheat day?” and my answer is No, and No.

This question has two of my very least favorite words in it: Allow and Cheat.

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To say I “allow” myself to eat something is to imply I must be under restriction and require permission to eat certain foods, which is not how I choose to live, and certainly not how I want my health coaching clients to live.

And to “cheat?” Shudder, shudder. There’s a moral implication around the word cheat that just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t believe that there’s a morality attached to my food choices—I’m “good” if I eat vegetables, and “bad” or “cheating” if I eat cookies. The concept of cheat meals and cheat days again implies that most of the time I’m white knuckling it, living in deprivation…and likely counting down the seconds till my cheat.

I understand that this kind of thinking works for some folks and even allows them to manage their weight in some cases. I also regularly see how this kind of thinking can be miserable and oppressive, and easily spirals out of control. 

Instead, I choose to eat to support my health: Eating real, fresh food feels good! And sometimes eating a giant cookie made with love by and with loaded with huge melty chocolate chunks is good for my health, too. I don’t eat it with guilt or shame or regret. I savor every special bite because well-made indulgent food truly is a treat—not a cheat.

Credit to the baker: Little Fig Bakeshop, available at Stall 11 at R. House in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore.