‘Everything in Moderation......’
1.What does moderation mean to you?
Moderation is about making the best possible food choices at all times at any moment. If 6 out of 7 days you eat as clean as possible then on the 7th day your body will be able to cope with the occasional not so clean food .
Once in a while to have something that you enjoy has great psychological benefits. It avoids the feeling of restriction and deprivation that can really interfere with reaching your health goals.
Unfortunately i’ve seen time and time again a cheat day become a cheat week and then a relapse to old unhealthy habits. A lot of the cheat foods people consume can be highly addictive like sugar, chocolate, alcohol and coffee. The brain associates these with pleasure and as foods are they serve feeling of instant gratification which become hard to deny.
The idea of Moderation to me is difficult where culture is involved. There are certain cultural foods that we are brought up with that are impossible to give up and enjoyable to have from time to time. Foods that mum always cooked for us bring us feelings of comfort and happiness.
Food is so much more than calories, it encompasses culture, celebration. tradition, social gatherings.
2. Are ‘cheat foods’ okay?
(I’m using ‘cheat foods’ as a synonym for treats or discretionary foods.)
If you are talking about cheat foods being sweets, there are so many delicious raw food sweet treat alternatives that taste amazing and are full of nourishment. They are also now so easily accessible. These would be considered cheat foods once a week or mums cooking once a fortnight.
Some people consider a cheat food potato, rice, corn, pasta, bread..this depends on what diet they are following I guess .
Cheat foods once in a while are ok as long as you don’t go back to old eating habits and give up on your goals.
Sometimes it take a good 3 months to form habits so for the majority of the population, having too many cheat days can just take you back to where you were and sabotage your health goals.
3. Are there any dangers of prohibiting ‘cheat foods’
(e.g. can restriction eventually lead to overindulgence?)
I don’t perceive that eating healthy is a restriction. It is about choice. If you know in your own mind and adult body , living in a country where foods are easily assessable, that you can really eat whatever you like it doesn’t feel as important to overindulge. Its there whenever you want it.
I always use the example of wanting a hand bag. Telling yourself that you can buy it whenever you like softens the urgency to get it straight away.
Some people don’t call them cheat foods but rather free foods or reward foods. The whole idea of deprivation does nothing for the subconscious mind where our habits are formed. I think there has to be a real change in mindset around this whole topic . We are not deprived. We choose. By understanding that you can have whatever you want whenever you want takes away the urgency to want to eat cheat foods. In reality we can eat these if we like but we choose not to.
Its like telling a child he can’t have something. When a child cannot have something they will cry and want it more than anything.
4. What are your cheat foods? If they are homemade, can you please share the recipe/s?
My cheat foods are mainly at parties foods that my family cook. But I actually don’t see them as cheat foods because when I eat something there never is guilt attached to my choices. I enjoy it and move on. So I may eat some homemade bread or pasta if there is nothing else to choose. I’ve never been a dessert person so dessert really hasn’t been an issue for me. I will drink a glass of wine usually on my birthday or homemade ouzo in Greece when I visit my fiancé. I also indulge in raw food treats from the organic shop and a coffee once every three months. Others may see this as cheating. I see it as choice.
5. When/how often do you allow yourself your cheat food?
Usually birthdays and dinners with the family when somebody else has cooked something traditional. Also when I travel overseas I indulge in cultural foods.
6. Any cautionary words?
I would suggest that if you cannot eat cheat meals in moderation then don’t incorporate them at all . To ensure good healthy habits are formed, I would recommend that you eat clean the majority of the time and allow yourself ‘cheat ‘ foods on special occasions. Always be in the mindset that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want so its really all about choice. This will ensure that you don’t feel deprived and can successfully stick to your health food goals.