I’ve been putting off writing this post, to be honest. The idea to type down my thoughts on dieting came to me after seeing a string of retweets that were arguing that “cheat days” are stupid and that dieting is essentially wrong.
Sigh. When will people learn to let others live their lives?
To put across my point from the perspective of someone that has changed their diet for the better, and does occasionally have “cheat days”, I thought it would be good to give some context on my relationship with food.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a warped relationship with food. As a teen, I wasn’t really a fan of eating – it felt like a waste of time and I never really ate that much. I also hated eating in front of people, an issue that definitely doesn’t affect me any more!
As I got older, I started to get more of an appetite and eventually piled on the pounds. I’ve never been “fat”, but food became a much bigger part of my life – I would eat when I was sad, but equally to award myself with it for being happy. Chocolate was (and still is) my ultimate vice, but the unhappiness that crept in about my body was beginning to effect my life on a greater level.
I’d never really given much thought to diets in the traditional sense, and I’ve never tried a “fad” diet that cuts out any type of food completely, because I would cave in after about a day. Maybe less. Probably less. Plus, I don’t think they’re healthy, to be honest. But hey, that’s my opinion!
I later begun weighing up the possibility of joining Weight Watchers or Slimming World in late 2014. I ended up joining SW but had to leave after getting a bout of vertigo that had me out of work for a while. Of course, the comfort eating returned in full force.
To skip ahead to now, I am back on SW and one of the primary reasons I like it so much is that I have complete control. I’m a control freak, I won’t lie. I like to be able to have that level of power, and organisation that comes from being on SW.
Now, SW isn’t so much a diet as a lifestyle change. You can read about how it all works here, but for me the key message is everything in moderation. Good things like fruit and veg are “free” (so I can eat as much as I like), and other foods are measured. Recording my food intake every day might seem psychotic, but it means I know what I’ve eaten and how many “treats” I can allow myself without overindulging.
“Oh but you only live once!” I hear you cry – yes, you do. I want to know that in my lifetime I am looking after myself, am happy with my body and health in general. I have noticed that since I started SW, I have:
– Lost weight at a healthy speed
– Improved my immune system
– Felt less run down and stressed
– Had more energy
– Spent more time looking after my body at the gym
What’s more, after finding out that I am prone to vestibular migraines, I can now better manage the “triggers” by reducing my intake of foods such as chocolate, and better monitoring those triggers should the vertigo return.
So that’s really an overview of why I follow the “diet” that I follow – so what about those controversial “cheat days”?
When I have a cheat day, it isn’t because I “want time off” of “torturing myself”. I never feel like my healthy eating is torture – I’ve certainly loved finding short cuts to enjoy some more indulgent things using less sugar and fat.
My “cheat days” are few and far between, but when I do have them, it’s because I’m human. I want a day off of counting my “syns” or measuring food, but the best part is that I still don’t overindulge because I know how awful it feels when you binge, and how good it feels to stay on track. I usually “cheat” when having a meal out, and on special occasions. It actually helps to keep me on track by having the odd day of more indulgent cuisine ;).
I like moderating what I eat, and I equally like having some time off of that. However, I don’t judge people who don’t think the same way, I only judge those who keep their minds closed.
I’d love to know you thoughts on dieting and cheat days, so feel free to comment below!