The problem with cheating on diets is that there’s typically no-one there to call you on it. It’s not like you’re taking a quiz or a test and have a teacher or professor in the room with you watching to make sure everyone looks on their own work. As an adult, we are responsible for ourselves, and unfortunately, many people don’t hold themselves accountable to their actions when it comes to eating.
The funny thing about cheating on diets is the more you do it, the easier it gets to do. That’s why I avoided any sabotage meals or cheats as much as I could when I was doing my Whole30’s or when I was in weight loss mode. Now that I’m in maintenance, I’m allowed a little more leeway, but even so, I don’t stray off the beaten path often. I don’t want to make it too easy for me to eat anything and everything.
Cheating is like a snowball that is rolled down a mountainside. At first, it’s not a big deal, but the more it rolls, the more it picks up more snow, gets larger, and it gets harder to stop. That’s why I find it’s best to not start that snowball rolling at all.
What are some real penalties for cheating on a diet? Aside from the loss of forward momentum or further progress, there’s the aforementioned ease with which one can cheat again. Add to this the fact that when people go off a diet, they tend to gain more weight than they originally lost. For me, there’s another penalty that is worse than all of the above, and I go through it every single time I eat anything that’s not Keto or Paleo: guilt.
I experience guilt as soon as I finish eating whatever it was that I wasn’t supposed to be eating, and it’s frankly more uncomfortable and disappointing than anything else. I feel disgust with myself for not having the strength to just say no, and to skip eating whatever it was that is bad for me. Sometimes it’s irrational, like when I decide to go ahead and eat some birthday cake or a roll before a fancy dinner. Other times, it’s well-deserved: I totally just ate something I am not supposed to for no other reason than because it was there (this usually happens if I drink alcohol, which is another topic entirely).
Since I hate feeling disappointed and disgusted with myself more than anything, I find that an amazing motivator is keeping myself from experiencing that immense guilt by avoiding foods I’m not supposed to eat. It’s how I keep myself accountable, and how I keep myself from experiencing the penalties for cheating.