A Wild Idea: Treats, Not Cheats

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So next week, I (Emily) will break down how to spot the new eating disorder on the block, Orthorexia -- which isn't that new anyway except for it's name. This is something close to my heart, as you can read over onThere's Beauty in Recovery, a recovery blog that I contribute to regularly. But this week, I wanted to tackle society's concept of cheat meals or cheat times and how devastating they are to the psyche, the body, and ultimately, your life.

I was visiting The Balanced Blonde the other day and came across her piece 'Why I Don't Agree with Cheat Meals'. Before I even read it, I was ready to stand on my chair with both hands in the air and say, 'yes! me toooooooo!'. If you aren't familiar with the definition of a cheat meal or time, it is an allotted time of the day, week, year, or what have you, that gives 'permission' from the diet gods to eat whatever suits your fancy with the idea of no guilt during that time. An imaginary force has told us that outside of this cheat period, we must eat a fictitiously perfect diet where straying from it's plan equals uncontrollable gluttony and a need for resentment, guilt, and shame. Sound familiar? Have you told yourself that stuffing your face with that last piece of cake was delicious, but how could you, because you just threw your diet straight to hell? How great did that make you feel? I'm guessing not so hot.

Consider the once a week cheat meal. Instead of enjoying the approximate 30 meals a week (sometimes more, sometimes less; no right or wrong; only what works for your body) we convince ourselves that only one of those meals can taste amazing. The other 29 or so are meant to be gross, bland, boring, and a means to an imagined body. Whaaaaattttt?! Poor tastebuds, poor body, and most importantly, poor you!

Life is meant to be enjoyed with an unabashed pleasure from your very core. Life includes food. If it revolves around food, that's not enjoyment, that's torture. But it does include it. And the society we live in loves food. There's a reason we go on dates to restaurants or think its warm and cozy to wake up to pancakes and music on the radio. It's intimate and social and lovely when treated right. Now when you tell yourself its a cheat or a bad thing to have pleasure around something as innocent as food, you tell your brain that you aren't worthy. You tell yourself that in order to be desired, loved, enjoyed, or amazing, you must be perfect in your eating habits, and anything removed from that perfection is something to hold pain over. That, ladies and gents, is the start to an eating disorder. It's a disordered way of thinking about your eating habits. Every meal can taste great, feel good in your body, and make you want to dance. Bet your thinking, yeeeeeah okay Emily, sure. Listen, I'm not saying every meal is going to be a plate of pancakes stacked higher than Jack's beanstalk. Those are delicious treats -- treats, yes! Not cheats. Maybe your other breakfasts are smoothies or frittatas or huge bowls of fruit, but they too are delicious. They don't taste like cardboard, and they aren't measured out into perfectly calorie counted portions.


I don't call them cheats, because I'm not cheating on my life, I'm enjoying it.


We must escape this idea of what food is to our lives. I love food. Really. It's a huge part of my life, because I write about it on my blog, I love to read and create recipes, and I truly have healed from my disorder by falling back in love with how good food can be for the body and brain and spirit. Rich, decadent food is a treat in my eyes. It's a shared experience with those I love; it's a trip to the bakery and getting to look at all the goodies without longing or doubt; it's a freeing feeling to eat it when I want it and know that because of that, I'm never operating at a deficiency or a lack. I don't call them cheats, because I'm not cheating on my life, I'm enjoying it. And by doing that, I've found a more ideal weight for my body, a nicer train of thought in my mind, and relationships with others that aren't restricted or cut off, because their times to indulge are different than mine.

It's a treat, not a cheat. You aren't a bad person for wanting yummy food. You're amazing and incredible and deserve every meal to taste astoundingly, butt-wigglingly delicious.

+ I'm interested! Do you believe in cheat meals? What's your foodie lifestyle like? Comment below or on Facebook! xx

Forgood-for-the-body-and-soul foods or support around changing your mindset from cheat to treat, I invite you to get in touch with me.