Cheating. It implies you have done something wrong, that you messed up or screwed up, that you were bad.

Why do we use this kind of language when we talk about food?

Did you really do something wrong if you ate some pizza on Friday night? If you have a piece of cake, are you a bad person?

It’s actually pretty silly if you think about it.

Sometimes we even plan these “cheat days” ahead of time: Friday nights, I’m allowed to be a cheater!

And then, because you cheated, you feel guilty, ashamed even. Sometimes these emotions even spiral into a whole week of “cheating.”

It’s nonsense.

Two Foods for Thoughts

The Toothbrush analogy

Have you ever forgotten to brush your teeth? Chances are you probably have. And when you did, did you beat yourself up about it? Did you feel like a bad person? Did it lead to a whole week of forgetting to brush your teeth? (I hope not).

Regardless, eating one less-than-ideal meal, or having an off day, or even a full weekend of not-the-best food choices should be treated the same way: With an “oh well, move on and get back to it the next day.”

Approach Versus Avoid Thinking

Don’t think about an apple. Don’t picture an apple!

There you are, picturing an apple. 

The point is when we think about all the things we shouldn't eat, we end up thinking about all the things we don’t want to eat and then wanting them more.

What if we flipped the script and started focusing on what we want more of, not what we want less of. We want to eat more vegetables. We want to eat protein with every meal. We want to drink more water.

Focusing and setting approach goals, such as “start every morning with a glass of water” or “put vegetables on my plate before anything else,” can go a long way in getting us out of our old habits.


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