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Use of The Word "Cheat"

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Old 07-02-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
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Default Use of The Word "Cheat"

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?
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:06 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:08 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:19 PM   #4
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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.

Last edited by Shmead : 07-02-2010 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:21 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:22 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:23 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:26 PM   #8
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Great input, friends! Love how diverse we are here.

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

I like that.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:50 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:54 PM   #10
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Yeah, the word "cheat" in the context of healthy eating rally bothers me, too.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:59 PM   #11
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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).
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:06 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:12 PM   #13
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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. . .
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:25 PM   #14
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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
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:29 PM   #15
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Same here, I feel the same as many of you!

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