We hear this a good bit in reference to diet. “I was doing well but I’ve been cheating a lot lately.” I get it…we all feel a twinge of remorse when we make a choice that we know isn’t the greatest…it’s only human. I have a feeling a lot of those reading this are “A type” personalities who have taken their health into their own hands and challenged conventional wisdom in pursuit of optimum nutrition…you are even more prone to feeling like you’ve let yourself down. I just feel that this notion of “cheating” really puts the wrong connotation on what we’re doing when it comes to diet/nutrition. After all, this isn’t meant to be a fad diet…you know that. Going off of your plan for a 1 week juice fast (help!!!) would seem like more of a failure than eating something less-than-optimal in a LIFE LONG commitment you have made to eating well. Saying that not eating perfectly is “cheating” is setting yourself up for certain failure if you think of it this way. You have what’s called “a life”…it’s a life that does not exist inside a bubble. Where everyone does not know about the paleo diet. Hell, it’s a world full of tasty innovations and special occasions…and everyone KNOWS it is not realistic (and probably not necessary) to abstain 100% from these situations (read: it is next to IMPOSSIBLE).
Cheating as we say it implies an unforgivable sin. Are we really comparing eating an (insert your favorite “non-paleo” food here) to adultery? Should we be emblazoned with a scarlet letter for doing such? Come on…we all know that it’s not that serious.
In a way I feel that the guilt is brought on by those in positions of influence…the bloggers and writers and media authorities that put on airs about their compliance to their method. You know the holier-than-though attitude I am talking about. They would lead you to believe that they are always perfect and if they do show a sliver of being mortal…they will chide themselves and make atonement to show that they are really “above” that. (I hope we are not so guilty of this here, though we don’t go out of our way to show you pictures similar to those below.) They have something to gain from this pretense and it may be a lack of security as well, but I think it’s adding to the paranoia. And I would guarantee that behind closed doors they are living at least a slightly different life than they present. Let me be clear…I don’t mean everyone, there are those that seem very transparent in a good way.
I can illustrate this with the thought of politicians and other celebrities that show a storybook life until the headline breaks. And even more easily with a comparison to another type of relationship, a marriage (or committed pair).
So many married couples present a perfect relationship on the surface. It might leave you wondering how everyone else’s marriage seems problem free when you have disagreements with your spouse. Well, guess what…they do have disagreements and they just don’t want you to know about it. It probably stems from pride and lack of security…sound familiar? Saying that a marriage is a failure because you have an argument is like saying you “cheated” on your diet because you did not eat perfectly.
So can I propose that eating imperfectly now be called “having a disagreement” with your diet? I know it’s more of a mouthful but bear with me. Your marriage or committed relationship is very much like your commitment to your nutrition ideals.
1. It changes and evolves
2. When you are committed, a disagreement is tiny bump in the road not a burning of the bridge
3. It does not adversely affect the outcome
At Health-Bent…we feel like we need to relax a bit about not eating perfectly all the time. I’ve written some about the 80/20 rule in the past. Of course, if you use this to justify eating poorly all the time then it’s counterintuitive. What I’m saying is that if you are committed to your relationship with food, you wouldn’t let it be anything more than a relative rarity.
I am not perfect. I eat bullcrap sometimes and can be mean to my wife on occasion. But I am committed to a great relationship with my wife and with food. I know that the amount of time not making both happy better be slim. I recognize that having self diagnosed imperfections doesn’t make me the only one. Everyone does. And as such…it’s just part of the norm…it doesn’t mean anything is wrong. It also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to be the best you can. Just don’t beat yourself up over it so much. It’s just my opinion but I think that is the healthiest way to be. If you’re shooting for perfection you’ll land at excellence…so don’t cry over spilt coconut milk.
I wouldn’t know what a perfect marriage or a perfect diet would look like anyway. In my next post I plan to write about how “cheating” would be hard to define even if we were calling it that because every single thing you eat falls within a scale of values you have set (based on what you can know so far). Since we are learning more and more every day those values change some and any food choice is not a full on perfect or not perfect choice…almost all fall somewhere in between. (another reason you can’t really say conclusively what food would be a deal breaker or a “cheat”) I’ll introduce a way we subconsciously evaluate our food choices as “good”, “better”, “best” using our umbrella parameters.
I hope this helps. If you feel like you’re eating very well the majority of the time…you should be proud of it and own it. That’s all I feel anyone can do…no matter what they’ll have you believe. At the end of the day, Megan and I fundamentally believe that —