During the school year, I had the opportunity to speak with a community member who had been eating gluten-free for just over a year. As we talked, she confessed that she found it a daily challenge to not “cheat” and eat gluten. After we met, I did a lot of thinking about our conversation and realized that I have that same daily struggle.
On my “About Me” page it says that I have been eating gluten-free for four years. It really should say “on and off for four years” because I still occasionally consume glutinous things. Last summer, I “cheated” all summer long. I ate all kinds of sugar, bread and dairy, especially in the last two weeks. There was birthday cake, goodbye donuts, goodbye cake, social snacks and I ate it ALL. Should I have eaten any of it? Nope. I knew how my body reacted to gluten, dairy and sugar but I ate it anyways. Why? Because it tasted SO DARN GOOD. Was the taste of an entire summer’s cheating worth it for the seven pounds I gained and the two week’s recovery from freaking out innards? Absolutely NOT.
As I write this, I am currently recovering from yet another round of cheating. In the past two weeks I have had birthday cake, hot cross buns, pizza, eggs benedict on an English muffin and probably one or two other things I can’t think of at the moment. Why did I eat all of that? Taste, taste, TASTE! Bready things are just far too tasty to eat gluten-free. It is SO hard to resist!!! BUT…the way they make me feel afterwards is absolutely a good reason to eat gluten-free. I think sometimes my body just needs to be reminded of why I choose to give up scrumptious things like pizza and cake. It is just not worth it for the way I feel after. (That was a very hard sentence to write!!)
There are people who will say “you only live once” so eat whatever you want, or others who say, “we are only human”, meaning it is in our nature to want to eat these things. It is in our nature to want to eat these things. We can eat these things. We can absolutely eat whatever we want…WITH repercussions.
The key to “beating the cheating” is honesty…honesty with yourself. Remember why you chose to avoid that food in the first place. Trying to convince yourself that “just one won’t hurt” is not the way to go. You can stuff your face with chocolates behind your family’s back all you want, but you aren’t hiding anything from your body. You live in your body. It is always there, and it knows what you put into it. You can tell yourself that you can cheat on it all you want, but the reality is, you can’t.
Try and recognize them as CHOICES and not CHEATS. Choose whether to eat that pizza or not. Choose to say no to that slice of boxed cheesecake at your work Christmas party. Feeling great at the end of the day instead of sick will make you feel good about your choice.
Now, it is in our human nature to crave things like chips, chocolate and ice cream. It happens to all of us. Try and replace these “cheats” with healthier options:
- If you’re craving crunchy things like chips, try an apple, raw veggies, unsalted popcorn or nuts instead.
- If you’re craving sweet things, reach for some fresh fruit (slice a banana up, sprinkle with honey and cinnamon!), a Black Bean Brownie, a bowl of Avocado Chocolate Pudding or a Pumpkin Goody Two-Chew Bite!
- If you’re craving salt, pop open a bag of 100-calorie popcorn, dip an apple in some peanut butter, or enjoy a handful of nuts and seeds.
Or if you really feel the need to “cheat” with a treat, cheat with something that is actually worth it!
Things that ARE worth cheating for:
- A special homemade dessert your family has once a year
- A Black Bean Brownie
- A slice of Crustless Pumpkin Pie
- A bowl of Avocado Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Rice Pudding or Chia Pudding
- A slice of Coconut Flour Banana Bread
- A Pumpkin Goody Two-Chew Bite
- A Sweet Potato Oatmeal Bar
- Coconut Flour Brownies – recipe coming soon!
So what is NOT worth cheating for?
- Store-bought baked goods (nothing ever compares to homemade!)
- Candy (try Nature’s Skittles instead!)
- A bowl of wheat and sodium-filled party mix at a social gathering
- Pre-packaged desserts you know are just mediocre
- That boxed pizza I ate
- Anything you eat just to feel included (i.e. dessert at a restaurant because all your friends are getting dessert)
- Anything that I do not make myself!
Do you ever feel tempted to “cheat” on your diet?