“So….do you….umm cheat?”

Cheating. Saying the word instantly evokes thoughts of doing something wrong. Yet, it is simply something that everyone who is dieting wants to know. Can you cheat on a particular diet and still have success?

People cheat on their diets in different ways. Some do a cheat meal once a week, some cheat every time it’s a special occasion or birthday, and some cheat when no one is looking.

But I my friends do not cheat.

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Yes, that is me.

Yes that is a cupcake. A full sugar cupcake.

Yes, I will once again repeat myself….I don’t cheat.

I lost all credibility the moment you saw me with that cupcake didn’t I?

Allow me to explain. For the first time in my life, I have lost a substantial amount of weight without being on what I would deem to be a diet. Diet to me is a four letter word…literally and figuratively. It has a negative connotation. A punishment. It means giving something up, depriving your body of something so that you can lose weight.

I can see how people who know that I’m low carb/low sugar would think that I’m on a diet. I mean after all, I am depriving myself carbs and sugar. But here’s the deal, the reason I am finding success is that I really don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I’m doing things on this “diet” that are in complete opposition of a diet.

I eat a lot of food. I don’t portion control. My body tells me when its full.

I eat a lot of fat…I mean an insane amount of fat. I eat real butter.  Have you ever looked to see how much fat is in butter? REAL cheese. Heavy cream (don’t even look at the fat on that label). The fat in the food I eat, makes the food feel decadent to my body, and I by nature eat less. Most importantly, I leave a meal not feeling like I was a rabbit stuck only with eating lettuce and carrots.  I guarantee you I probably eat double the fat now that I ate when I was 100 pounds heavier…and I’m losing weight.

I don’t count calories…at all. I simply don’t care how many calories are in my food.

I eat when I want to. I don’t care if I just ate lunch 20 minutes ago, if I’m hungry, I eat. There are days when maybe I eat breakfast and then don’t eat until a late lunch. And there are times when I feel I am eating every hour.

So what I’m doing is not a diet, what I’m doing is creating a new lifestyle.  I’m creating a new relationship with food.  I’m seeing food as fuel, not comfort.  Sure this new relationship tells me that when I eat less carbs and less sugar, I feel better, and lose weight, but I simply don’t feel deprived.

Now the beauty of removing the D-word from your life and calling it a lifestyle is that it removes cheating from the equation.

You don’t cheat on a lifestyle…you cheat on a diet.

I think cheat meals notoriously play with your mind when you are eating healthy. For example, say you are going to cheat every Friday night. Well, what happens when Friday comes around and you are actually feeling pretty satisfied that day and want a salad? If it’s a cheat day you may feel obligated to cheat and so you ignore your body’s message to eat a salad and order a greasy cheeseburger and fries. Can’t miss that cheat day right?

Or what about if your cheat day was Friday, and its Saturday and you REALLY want some chocolate. Now you feel like you are dieting because you can’t have chocolate and you feel like this is something that you will never be able to maintain. (Sigh!)

So people, the answer is simple….STOP CHEATING!

Now does that mean you can’t have carbs or sugar? Oh please…remember that cupcake picture? You are human. This is life, and now that you are eating healthy this is a LONG life. You are going to have days that you eat good, and you are going to have days where you eat cookie dough straight from the package. It’s okay to give in from time to time. But the key is to not look at this as cheating.

The problem with telling yourself that you are cheating every time you indulge is that you naturally think you are doing something wrong, which admit it…makes it somewhat more appealing. If you allow yourself the ability to eat what you want periodically, then it loses its “sexiness”.  It’s not cool to do anymore, and you simply don’t want to do it as much.

So let me rephrase the typical question that people want to know and change it to: How do you deal with cravings?

I’ll tell you for the first few months I took a hard stance with my cravings. I didn’t give into them. I didn’t want to fall off the wagon and wanted to allow my body time to detox off the sugar and carbs that I had lived on before. I encourage you if you are just starting this journey to be a little more strict on what you allow yourself to have. Don’t give in right away, let your body get strong without the junk first.

But once you get past that hurdle…you can start to trust the cues coming from your body and indulge in some periodic cravings.

So here’s how I handle those nasty cravings. Let’s say I have a craving for chocolate. I first question the craving. Am I really craving it?  Can I meet that craving by drinking a chocolate Muscle Milk or do I seriously have to have a cupcake? Yes, I analyze my craving and feel it out to see how serious it is.

Next, I try and trick my craving. Can I get around it?  For me a perfect example is pizza. I crave pizza a lot. So when the craving hits I try and find a way to meet the craving and still say somewhat good. So, I’ll order a thin gluten free healthier crust and satisfy the craving. It works for me 99% of the time.

Cravings aren’t as smart as you think they are. Trust me.

Ice Cream craving? Go for Halo Ice Cream which is lower in carbs.

Sweet cravings can be satisfied a lot of times by eating fruit. If I have a sweet tooth I go for a handful of blueberries or strawberries. You can even top it with Cool Whip or Redi Whip which is surprising not that horrible in carbs (2 carbs a serving for Cool Whip and 1 for Redi Whip). Yes, you read that right…you can still lose weight and eat Redi-Whip from the can like you used to as a kid.  Sugar Free Jello has 0 carbs and may just meet a sweet tooth craving. You have choices.

Of course there are those times you have a legitimate craving that you just have to meet. Go ahead and indulge from time to time. You will feel better and most importantly, you will not feel like you are a diet.

So stop thinking you are cheating every time you have a slice of bread or a piece of chocolate. Trust me it’s okay. Remind yourself you are not cheating, this is a lifestyle and like everything in life it has its ups and downs. It’s not perfect.

You’re going to run out and get the Redi-Whip can after you read this…aren’t you?

Happy “Cheating” everyone!

R.C.

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