Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When to cheat on your diet and why

I am on an aeroplane (afuckinggain) without the benefit of a bar crawl to smooth out my pathetically rough edges and therefore have unfortunately entered the thoughtful crazytime zone that I encounter whenever I am left to my own devices away from home for hours at a time and usually only at an airport or other travel-related place.

In today's edition of deeply inside my head, we consider when and why to cheat on a diet.

First, and this is important: I reject the idea of "diets" and "cheating" for the most part. Maybe this is because I am a rebel type of person but the word "diet" implies rules and conformity and (thus) "cheating" implies some kind of bullshit "I am breaking the rules and therefore 'bad'" sort of thing. For this I apologize but I presume you are still picking up what I'm putting down because I am using the commonly used "cheating on a diet" frame.

All of the above is kind of funny because, dudes, seriously? I have been on something that could only be considered the world's most serious diet for nearly one year. So I guess I'm a dieter, right? But I am not really all that experienced of a dieter. And, truly, I have no idea how to *really* do this in the long run. Hey, I am figuring it out.

However. I am a cheater. An EXPERT cheater.

Today I cheated on said diet and am perfectly satisfied with my behavior because it conformed with my notion of when, what, where, how, and why to cheat on a diet. Here are my rules. Wait, no. Here are my guidelines:

1. Geezus gawd, never cheat with shitty food. Maybe this should be the ONLY guideline y'know? This entire post was prompted by the fact that I was accidentally but awesomely upgraded on a flight and the food and drink are not only free but rather terrific. I have enjoyed (and I am quoting the menu here): Tapas of balsamic fig-marinated yellow beets tossed with caraway and grapefruit; grilled portobellos and roasted tomatoes with toasted garlic naan and feta; seared salmon and pork belly with baby spinach and broccolini; served with lentils and andouille sausage. Also chocolate and raspberry macarons. So yeah. WORTH CHEATING. But, and this is the important part: no bread. Because I LOOKED at the bread with my EYEBALLS and saw that it was NOT good bread (plus, having been on ten million flights during which I was offered bread I know for a fact that bread on an aeroplanes is almost never ever good). You know what? This meal was not only delicious for an aeroplane, but also delicious for cheating on a diet and being able to say, "yay! good! happy!"

2. Geezus gawd, never cheat with shitty food. I know I already said this, but Guideline Number Two is a different take on the same theme. Sort of. This post was also prompted by the fact that a really great organization called Center for Science in the Public Interest put out a report today about the crappiest of crappy food - they name names - and it was all just so crappy that it reminded me of another reason not to cheat with shitty food. Which is that shitty food is shitty. They point to things like a sandwich at Denny's that is comprised of fried mozzarella sticks put between two slices of bread and grilled. Like a grilled cheese sandwich but entirely kookier. So I realize that some people might say "yum" secretly to this and I get that but...and this is the guideline part of this...no. No. Cheating with that is just dumb. If you must cheat with cheese (and, really, I only cheat with cheese when it comes right down to it), I can highly recommend cheating with beautiful blue cheese from Pt. Reyes. Or some handmade goat cheese from the neighbor down the road. Y'know?

3. Cheating for liquor is almost always acceptable. Except if you're an alcoholic in which case, don't cheat with the liquor. Before I started this diet, not one day went by that I didn't consume three pints of delicious, cold beer. And I remember holding that beer in my hand and thinking, "if only I could give up beer, I could diet." Well, I did give up beer and despite the fact that I thought this was entirely totally and completely impossible, I have survived and as it turns out I never cheat with beer. It confounds me. However, I do drink white wine now. Schooners of it. And I like it. Sometimes I have the gin with the diet grapefruit soda. And every so often I splash some malibu rum into my diet root beer. These are Good Cheats. So, the moral of this story is that cheating with liquor is fine when cheating with decent not-so-bad (white-ish in color) (as if there is another kind of white-ish) (like white-ish in personality but not color) liquor. Also, cheating with liquor is sometimes necessary so one might as well learn to do it better than cheating with a sixpack of cold beer and/or seven-and-sevens.

4. Never beat yourself up. No really. When you cheat, it is quite common to then emotionally self-flagellate yourself into a sad and stupid place. Don't. It's silly and a waste of time. Eat your delicious goat cheese, thank the goats that gave it to you, and then move along. Haven't you (we) spent enough time in our lives beating ourselves up? Let's not.

5. Cake, really good cake, is so delicious. I never ate dessert before, when I was not dieting. A bite here or there. But nope, no dessert for me for the most part. Now? I crave sweet things! I do not fucking know why but it's a dumb curse. I mean, I never wanted sweets until I couldn't have them? Wait. That's not a curse. It's a fucking cliche. Oh.

Anyway, now I want sweets. But still, I refuse to waste my sweet tooth on crappy processed sweets though (see guideline number 1). Yesterday I mistakenly wasted a cheat on a coconut ball brought all the way from Hawaii and you know what? Yuck. However today's beautiful and delicious chocolate and raspberry macarons? Yum. Worth/It.

I should be landing from the aeroplane at some point in the near future. I hope you have enjoyed today's visit to the inside of my head. And I can't leave without sharing with you this sweet picture: the salt and pepper shaker (which I have pilfered) on my flight is a little teeny aeroplane. This picture is from a web site called www.mightysweet.com and hopefully I haven't violated the laws of the internet by linking to their excellent photo.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with these guidelines.

    I remember those cupcakes we bought on a rainy night in NYC when we were drunktimes from schooners of wine (always OK) and riding in a cab with your cute/cool/fun/nice/gay homosexual friend whose name escapes me. Those cupcakes were so worth cheating with. The epitome of a good cheat.

  2. Also, that salt shaker is incredibly darling.