If there is one thing I’ve repeatedly tried to iterate on this website it’s that moderation is a key to health living. Too much of anything is bad and too little of something beneficial is also no bueno.
First, lets define diet. Our culture has given this word many meanings. It is a verb, adjective and noun. Lets boil down diet to a simple meaning; what one habitually puts into their mouth. That’s not the official dictionary definition, but it is simple, direct and clear.
For one then to say they are on a diet is akin to saying, “I’m breathing today as opposed to not breathing tomorrow for fear of inhaling something bad, but only tomorrow, since I’ll likely be crashing my breathing again the following day. I just can’t help myself. Breathing is so good!”
Doesn’t that sound a bit silly?
So diet is what one habitually puts into their mouth and actually swallows. And saying that you’re on a diet is like saying that you also breathe. So the next question is this; do you ever eat pie? Or cookies? Or cake? Or some Hot Cheetos? Or a Coke?
Sorry, that was 5 questions. If you answered yes to any of those or anything else in your mind that would count as a junk food, then yes, it is a part of your diet. So if someone offers you a piece of pie or cake and you tell them you’re on a diet so you can’t, then you’re straight up lying. Maybe the frequency is once in a blue moon. Maybe just at Thanksgiving or Christmas or some other major event (I just ordered 3 desserts at a nice restaurant because it was my anniversary).
The truth is, “junk” is a part of most people’s diets, just in small amounts for some, and large amounts for others. Frequency, as mentioned above also plays a role. So the question of when is it ok to cheat on my diet becomes moot because the reality is, if you eat it, it’s already part of your diet.
Let’s take a look at an example. My life and my diet.
Here’s a sample of one of my days and things I might eat during that day. In no way should this be a template for you since you aren’t me. Remember this is just an example of one pharmacist in rural America.
5:10 AM Wake up
5:20-5:30AM Protein shake
7AM Protein shake
7-8AM Make breakfast for kids, shower and get cleaned up for work
8-8:30 Eat chicken, beef, pork, eggs or some other protein source, usually with some oatmeal or quinoa.
9AM Start work at the pharmacy
1PM Lunch: Eat chicken, beef, pork or tuna with some rice or oatmeal or quinoa and some veggie (usually broccoli)
2PM Resume work
6PM Go home, make dinner for wife and kids. My dinner is usually weighed out if I’m calorie counting, and if I’m not then I just TRY to eyeball it (usually fails and revert back to weighing)
Dinner may be anything from some sort of pasta (we love angel hair) to rice to potatoes(not often) accompanied by pork roast, beef roast, chicken and some fruit (usually melon because right now it’s melon season).
If the kids eat all of their food, including their veggies, we’ll sometimes have some dessert. Ice cream, jello, a little cake or pie (depending on availability from my wife).
8:30 Bedtime for kids. Teeth brushed before hand.
10:30 I try to get to bed by this time, doesn’t always work.
I don’t always have dessert. Sometimes I do. Most nights I don’t. The weekend, when I’m home and have more ready access to food, is usually when I partake of something wonderful. Last Friday I made blueberry scones for dessert which we had with some ice cream on the side. Oh man was that good! But do I have blueberry scones every night? My mouth and brain say “ABSOLUTELY!” My will and my waistline say otherwise.
I’m not saying I’m fat. I’m just saying I know better than to have dessert every night. If pie is involved I can’t stop till it’s gone. The desirability of dessert is also proportional to my stress level during the day and the amount of carbs I had. Low carbs and high stress = recipe for disaster if I’m not careful. Moderate carbs with low stress and dessert just isn’t as appetizing.
I wrote about eating intentionally a while ago. You can look at the links here:
Rather than ask when can I cheat, the better question to ask might be, how often do I include junk into my diet? Remember that diet is something that you put into your mouth habitually. I would consider every weekend or even every month habitual. It really depends on you. If you were to deny yourself and good hamburger for the rest of your life and truly eliminate it from your diet, then yes if offered, you could then say, “sorry I’m on a diet that includes no hamburgers. Ever!”
But I ask you…Why? If you have a gluten allergy, then obviously you wouldn’t be eating scones, at least with wheat flour. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan then you’d avoid meat at all costs, which you are free to do. But why? These are wonderful foods and indulging from time to time is ok. Just make sure indulgence doesn’t become overindulgence and that includes one too many ounces of steak.
Sit down and enjoy your food. Even if you only have 5 minutes, sit down, put your phone away, and enjoy your food. Savor the flavor. Enjoy the texture. Let it be an experience.