This week I want to take a look at the way we talk about eating sugary, overly processed food, or any food that we know isn’t supportive for our health. Usually, after a particularly low quality meal, people immediately say they “cheated” or had a “cheat day.” But I wonder….how do phrases such as these affect us on our journey to an overall healthy lifestyle?
Why We Have Cravings
Certainly when your biology is not on your side, your body sends endless hunger and craving signals that get harder and harder to ignore. Temptation is something that is next to impossible to overcome. As Dr. Ludwig explains in the science sections of Always Hungry? and Always Delicious: in the battle between mind and metabolism, you are destined to lose the battle with your body. However, once your body starts working for you and you are no longer “always hungry”, you have an opportunity to create a life with conscious choice front and center.
The science supports our understanding, and the food reframes our biology so that we, as the subtitle of Always Hungry? indicates, “conquer cravings, retrain our fat cells, and lose weight permanently”. Most important, we do it without our bodies kicking and screaming. This leaves us with a supportive body and an opportunity to shift our thoughts and feelings around old patterns that no longer serve our health. Then, the power of choice comes in full force.
Reframing “Cheat Days”
I believe we should switch up the entire concept of cheat days, including the language we use to describe them. Instead of berating both yourself and your usual routine by saying you “cheated,” try simply acknowledging that you made a choice to eat something sugary. Then tell yourself that your next choice will be a better one for your health.
It’s part of what we call our Rule #1: Be gentle on yourself and others. Focus on learning rather than judgment and leave the guilt, shame, and blame at the door.
The Power of Choice
You have the power to make a new choice in every new moment. If you have a sugary breakfast, there’s no reason to consider the whole day lost. Just know that in the next moment, you can choose to do or eat something that works in favor of your body. We want to eat foods that are on our side, not foods that will make us feel sick, bloated, or tired.
We have found over and over again that when we eat well and hit the ratios established in Always Hungry?, cravings considerably lessen. For many of our readers, cravings completely go away. At that point, choice is no longer about white-knuckle will power, but rather about letting your body work in its own favor. We are always free to make choices and no matter what we’ve chosen in the past, each new moment presents an opportunity for a better choice.