Okay. OKAY, I cheated! It’s been a year, I know, I’m awful. A year. A year?!
Das right folks. I don’t do cheat days or meals. I live by a 99.9% rule of healthy eating and try my best to stick to complete abstinence of processed sugars and white carbs and such. But once in a while when I’m in a certain environment, I have no choice. Unfortunately in this case, I did. But then I really didn’t.
Today is my sister’s birthday. At exactly 11:10 A.M. she turned 15 years-old. When she came home for dinner, she and my mother unraveled the most beautiful box of Susiecakes cupcakes. Peanut butter, vanilla cake batter, red velvet, mocha, and lastly for me specifically….flourless chocolate cake.
WHAT. UP. SON.
To me, cupcakes or baked goods don’t look physically attractive. All the negativity in my overweight years are too overbearing for me to ever go back. Sometimes I do make exceptions and this was definitely one of them. The sister who has grown into such a beautiful woman, and a strong athlete and student, the person who I look up to but also mentally compete against–our laughs, our fights, our tears–how could I let my semi-orthorexic habits get in the way of our relationship after all we’ve been through?
So I took the flourless cake, disposed the frosting (which was perfectly fine because I never liked it even before my junk food rehab) and took a bite. Moist, pungent with chocolate, soft with a hint of sweetness. It was one of the tastiest gluten free pastries I’ve ever had in my life. I didn’t think about how much sugar, calories, carbs or saturated fat was in that fist-sized cupcake. All I thought about was the deliciousness.
I didn’t end up finishing the cake because my sister ate the rest, but that was more than fine. How does it feel to cheat after years of hard work and tolerance void of what society craves for? Personally to be honest, it was both the best and the worst moment. The present was heaven, and the after-feeling was bliss but then a crash of guilt and remorse. That’s when I started to mentally count the macros. How much butter was in that cake? I don’t even want to know how many calories and sugar I ate. I am disgusting.
But I stopped overthinking as soon as possible. I asked myself instead of counting calories, I should count the amount of times my family shook their heads when I refused a small morsel of ice cream during the holidays, how many times they lectured me when I punched myself in the face for thinking garlic naan was whole-grain and ate it (Many Indian restaurants have dim lighting!), and lastly all of the fights my sister and I got into concerning my lifestyle that was supposedly uptight. I could not isolate myself anymore than the times I was, despite the fact that my healthy eating habits were already somewhat accepted.
Look, I don’t feel like I gained six pounds just from eating that cake. But if I picture myself eating something unhealthy, I worry that that just might happen! You’re probably shaking your head at this right now but I’m being completely honest. It’s been too long that I view junk food as poison. Sugar, white carbs, anything overly sweet and fast-digesting—-they’re all addictive! I do not have the gift of self-control. Trust me. With almond butter, it’s very dangerous. (see here for the evidence)
There is an exception. If cheating makes you feel so guilty that you cry and want to crawl in a hole to die, then it’s probably not a good idea. That was how I reacted before. When I ate that naan I was on the verge of tears. It only became worse when my parents started yelling at me for being so inflexible! At the time, I thought I could never have a yolo meal. But now I guess that because I’ve learned to control my emotions and widen my comfort bubble to fit in a little more flexibility, then I’m okay. For now, it’ll be a fairly long time when I cheat again.
The moral of the story is that sometimes you do have to step out of your comfort zone in order to save your relationships. I’m not saying that it’s necessary to cheat. It is only necessary if you know that if you don’t, someone will end up hurt and unhappy. How would your grandmother feel if you turned down her homemade Christmas cookies….for the fifteenth time in a row? As much as most of us wish that it be so, healthy eating is fairly new to society. It’s only been last year since the whole dieting hype started and the majority of people still enjoy their McBurgers and fries. Be willing to make small sacrifices once in a blue moon to assure that you’re flexible, so as long as your loved ones accept your healthy eating and don’t see it as a bad or weird thing.
P.S. This is probably the 300th time you’ve heard this but one unhealthy meal or dessert will not hinder your progress and especially won’t kill you (with the exception of food allergies or frequent binges). It’s true! But if it still doesn’t make you feel better, just drink water and do some squats. Ready, set, GO!