Weight Loss Support - Use of The Word "Cheat"

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07-02-2010, 01:00 PM
I've seen the word "cheat" used alot here lately and I wanted to comment.

It took a long time (I'm 48 and have tried this many times), but I finally realized that to be healthy, lose weight and remain at a reasonable size that I had to change my way of eating. For the most part I loosely count calories, reduce fat, make sure I get plenty of fiber and water and exercise. This is working for me and I know it is now a lifestyle that I need to maintain to reach my goals and be healthy for the rest of my life.

Included in this lifestyle change are some of the foods I've enjoyed during my life, even before I decided to make changes. I don't include them daily or even weekly, but when they do come up, I have (so far) been able to work them in reasonably by reducing amounts, cooking in a more healthy manner or simply planning for them.

So I don't "cheat" on my "diet". I am not on a diet. I've changed my lifestyle for the better and those changes include an occasional food that may or may not be healthy for me. I know there are some out there that can't allow themselves this type of plan, due to bingeing, etc. But it works for me and so far, so good.

Any other thoughts on "cheat"ing?

07-02-2010, 01:06 PM
I always like to think I plan to eat off plan :) So, technically, it's still on plan. Because I planned it. Heh :)

When describing these planned off plan meals (which is so wordy), I tend to use the word "treat" on the boards. These types of meals are very different than how I eat day to day and do need to be called out in some easy to understand verbiage.

On this board, cheat/treat conveys what I am trying to say.

winning the war
07-02-2010, 01:08 PM
I agree totally. Using the word "cheat" puts food in an ugly light and almost gives it a life of its own. I do not do well on restrictive diets simply because I'm a grown woman, and feel that I should be able to eat whatever I want, which leads to bingeing. So, instead of telling myself I'm "not allowed" to have things, I can choose between eating a healthy and realistic portion of said food, or to binge and not have any control at all. Also, I can't cheat on myself, as there's no way to hide the fact of whatever I've done from myself.

07-02-2010, 01:19 PM
I think "cheat" is a bad term because it implies someone believes in what I think of as "The Dieting Gods"

The "Dieting Gods" religion believes in the following things:

Fat is a punishment for being "bad".
"Bad" is eating things that taste good.
Being "bad" is a constant temptation.
You lose weight by being "good"--only eating things you don't enjoy.
If you are "good", you make the Dieting Gods happy, and they will reward you by taking fat away.
If you are "bad" (enjoy eating) you anger the dieting Gods, and they they will make you fat.
You can "pay" for eating bad by confessing your sins, making yourself feel bad, or starving yourself/over exercising the next day/week. The point is not to increase the calorie deficit: it's to experience suffering equal to the pleasure the food gave you.

People who worship the dieting gods (and I used to be one) get really angry when they are on plan and don't lose weight--after all, they earned it and the gods are not holding up their part of the bargain! They also tend to overeat when they feel like they "deserve" it or when the dieting gods will understand--like during crises, or after getting really bad news, or when they "have to"--because if they "had to", they weren't being "bad" and so the dieting gods can't punish them.

Anyway, the term "cheat", to me, means "slip one past the dieting gods". This is not a game, it's science, and your body doesn't care if you are good or bad--it's just trying to keep the lights on the best it can. Figuring that out really, really helped me.

motivated chickie
07-02-2010, 01:21 PM
I have the same philosophy as you do. I think of certain foods (eg., alcohol or desserts) as occasional choices rather than cheats.

I can understand why people call them cheat meals though. It is very well possible to eat a higher calorie meal now and then and still lose weight. It can feel like cheating to eat a high calorie meal and three days later, see a weight loss or maintenance. It feels like I got away with something.

I have a problem with binges, so I have to be careful about not triggering an episode. For a long time, I refused to eat any sugar or flour at all. But I have noticed that when I plan my eating ahead of time, I am capable of eating a dessert and not going into a binge spiral.

On the flip side, restricting foods too much can be a form of cheating because it's a crash diet. We don't talk too much about undereating on 3FC, but I think it happens a lot. I confess I've been guilty of eating very low calorie to get the scale moving faster. I am trying to eliminate that habit.

07-02-2010, 01:22 PM
I think this is yet another example of how things are so different for different members here.

For me, "cheat" is a semi-destructive word - I may eat things that are less healthy, but I don't berate myself for a "cheat". If I feel like I "cheated", I feel badly about myself in a way that isn't conducive to acheiving my goals long-term.

For others, saying "treat" is similarly emotionally loaded...like the extra food was deserved or OK. Some people have to take a very hard line on off-plan foods to prevent binges and cravings, so for those folks, "cheat" language is more appropriate...it implies the breaking of the contract with themselves not to eat specific foods.

The language change seems pretty trivial, but can have a big impact on how people feel about themselves and their plan, and different things work for different folks.

07-02-2010, 01:23 PM
Oh thank goodness, I thought it was only me whose blood pressure goes up a couple of points at the word "cheat". "Planned cheat" is worse.

If I make a mistake, it's a mistake.
If I choose to go off plan, it's my choice.
If I choose to have a plan that allows a food once in a while but not everyday and on a planned basis, that's my plan, no cheat involved.

There are enough negative connotations about being fat, without telling ourselves we're cheats, or "trying to slip one past the dieting gods" - love it.

07-02-2010, 01:26 PM
Great input, friends! Love how diverse we are here.

Mandalinn said, "...different things work for different folks."

I like that.

07-02-2010, 01:50 PM
Gosh, I wanted to hit the QUOTE button on so many of your posts because they describe so well how I feel about folks using the "cheat" term.

07-02-2010, 01:54 PM
Yeah, the word "cheat" in the context of healthy eating rally bothers me, too.

07-02-2010, 01:59 PM
Yep, I agree with you guys. I've been highly annoyed by the use of the word "cheat" myself, but of course everyone feels differently about it and that's fine.

If you've read any of my posts before, you probably already know that I'm all about eating whatever you want and controlling portions, though I know that doesn't work for everyone. It doesn't work for ME to eliminate anything, because that just makes me crave it more. So when I'm eating something someone might consider a "treat" (I don't use that word either, because if I want broccoli at dinner, that's a treat too, you know?), I'm not "cheating." I guess if I'm cheating, it just means I've gone over the number of calories I've allowed myself. But I still don't call it cheating. I'll never call any specific food "cheating," though. Just gets me in a whole heap of trouble to think that way. We all do what works for us, but for me that's just an unhealthy way to think (I'm thinking about psychological health here more than physical, I guess).

07-02-2010, 02:06 PM
I don't do "cheats" either. I do "treats" every day, because I work hard at every aspect of my life, and I deserve all kinds of "treats." Some of these are food treats...some are having-fun treats...occasionally it's a purchase of something like new clothing.

But, why would I ever want to "cheat" on myself? The diet I eat isn't being imposed from outside, it's a change I've wholeheartedly embraced, and a lifestyle which makes me healthy and fit and full of energy and feel awesome. I'm not interested in cheating on my commitment to me.

07-02-2010, 02:12 PM
I treat myself to good-for-me, filling, wholesome foods most of the time.

If I choose to ingest something with little to no nutritional value, I don't consider it "cheating" on my "diet" because that brings so many negative connotations.

I might "splurge" on an iced coffee one day, or "enjoy" a dessert at the end of a wonderful meal. These little mind games mean the difference between guilt and pleasure. At this stage in the game, I'm trying to only eat things that bring me pleasure. . .

07-02-2010, 02:25 PM
Funny how words get so loaded for all of us - for me, 'cheat' and 'treat' both have connotations I don't particularly like. But 'planned off-plan', as Glory mentioned, is a heck of a mouthful. Unfortunately, occasionally, 'unplanned offplan' still happens in my world from time to time. I'm working on it though ;)

07-02-2010, 02:29 PM
Same here, I feel the same as many of you!

Don't even get me STARTED in the erroneous use of the word "BINGE"!!! :mad:

07-02-2010, 02:32 PM
I'm not on a restrictive diet. Everything is allowed and I decide which foods give me my calories. I don't cheat because there's no rule to break.

07-02-2010, 04:00 PM
I don't like the word "cheat" because in my head, I hear a female voice saying it, and she's using the "little-ole-me" babytalk voice when she says it. As in, "Oooh, I was so bad. I cheated." And what she's really looking for, glancing up sideways flirtatiously & waiting to hear, is some kind of playful slap, a smiley emoticon, and someone saying that she's not bad & it's okay, everyone does it, and thus she gets validated in some way.

Also anytime I read a post where someone "cheated" & say their scale has gone up, as a result, I hear a vengeful Carrie Underwood singing: "Maybe next time [s]he'll think before [s]he cheats."

Yeah, I guess I believe in Shmead's idea of the Dieting Gods, only it's a Dieting Goddess, and she's got Carrie Underwood's p*&%ssed-off voice.

07-02-2010, 04:44 PM
A "cheat" to me sort of has to be hidden. Like if I gobble a peanut butter cup when no one is looking and think "it is small it won't really count". So more of a mindset than an actual food. Basically I'm either on plan (and I have pretty lose guidelines) or off plan. In my plan it is perfectly okay to have 1/2c of ice cream or a turkey hero every once and a while...extra rich food that needs to be compensated for, but not a cheat. But that is just me.

07-02-2010, 11:31 PM
I don't have a problem with saying I "cheat"... It's just a word. What else would I call it? I have better things to do than think up new terms for the times I eat not as well as I should. I also don't like giving words that much power.

07-03-2010, 02:54 AM
The way someone describes an off-plan food item may have a lot to do with the type of diet that they are following. Some diets are so restrictive that a whole lot of foods fall into the "cheat" category and unfortunately for that dieter, they are going to feel that they have cheated and/or treated on their eating.
For those of us who count calories, nothing is really off plan, so all foods are allowable if their calories are counted. Food to me is just food, nothing good or bad about eating it. It's a choice, not a cheat or treat and since I bear (or wear) the results of my choices, I try to eat lower calorie healthy foods most of the time. This has become my permanent way of looking at food since last year and I really like it that way. No self imposed guilt trips!

07-03-2010, 03:49 AM
Yeah, count me as another one who isn't crazy about "cheat." I tend to think of my rare excursions off plan as being "indulgences," which may be just as problematic in its own way, but I like the framing better.

07-03-2010, 07:12 AM
Every time I read the word cheat I wonder, "cheat who". I would not "cheat" anyone out of anything. Least of all me.

07-03-2010, 09:17 AM
I agree - and don't like the word cheat at all, ever.

This is my life - one day at a time. I want to live in a healthy and sane manner with food.

If I do eat off my plan, have extra, a binge or a planned/unplanned treat - it is never called or thought of as a cheat.

It's not about eating something bad or cheating - it is more like unhelpful behavior - when the extra food isn't planned.

I guess, really it's just a word...meaning different things to different folks. But - just not one I choose to use.

07-03-2010, 11:18 AM
Cheating isn't really something that can happen on my plan, so not a word that I use. There are things that I never intend to eat again. The intention is so strong that if, for some reason, I found myself eating them, I'd be questioning my sanity, not my ethics! And, there are lots of things that could be considered a diet cheat that I will eat. Homemade desserts, say. But, I plan for them and eat them in small portions, so that's not a cheat, either.