Use of the word "cheating" if we occasionally choose to eat something not on our regular food list

(AJ) #1

First of all, this is NOT intended to be a critical post but one which I hope will open a discussion. I wonder if I am not alone with my thoughts about this.

Every time I read the word “cheating” I feel sad. Other similar words in my thesaurus include “dishonesty” and “deception”. Is there a better word or phrase to describe the act of eating something that (a) may not be in our usual shopping list (b) may potentially awaken in us an addictive response or © may spike us?

To me “cheating” has negative connotations < like when I used to diet :cry: > and I wonder if it is unhelpful to use it because I feel that this Way Of Eating is NOT a diet and that we are all creating very personal changes to our whole lifestyles which, by their very nature, must allow for flexibility from time to time.

Since switching to the LCHF/Keto WOE I have been learning about what foods I need to be careful of. Now I am out of the insane carby-fugg (just made that up :wink: ) I am becoming more adept at recognising my responses to certain foods.

For example, I very occasionally drink a small glass of red wine. Is that cheating? I am fully aware that it is an exception to my usual drink choices and that it will be a special occasion when I drink it.

The beauty of being in ketosis is that it is very black and white; the line is easier to see (and feel) if you step over it. The consequences can be unpleasant but each error is a learning opportunity.

What do people think? Perhaps my response is in reaction of my own personal negative dieting experences of the past.

(L. Amber O'Hearn) #2

My suspicion is that most people who use this word are either doing it tongue-in-cheek or not really thinking of it this way, but that said, because I am a language fanatic, I don’t do it myself. Words are powerful. I personally feel that ‘cheating’ is a self-deprecating way to speak. Cheating means deliberately and deceptively breaking the rules to your own advantage and to the disadvantage of another. If it’s part of your plan to eat foods you know aren’t optimal, it’s not cheating! If it’s a mistake or you let yourself down, it’s not cheating!


I feel very much the same way. I will choose to have a drink from time to time and it is a choice I make and for which I also understand the potential consequence. I don’t look at it as cheating. It is as much a part of my WOE as heavy cream, something else I found I can’t have without certain side effects so I choose to only have infrequently. While some may look at the wording as simply semantics, I personally find it more empowering when I look at something as a choice and not a form of an excuse or a punishment.


I don’t like “cheating” as a term either in the same way as I don’t like labelling foods “good” and “bad” or that awful Paltrowesque term “clean eating”. Going off keto is a choice, your choice. Only you know what the consequences of that choice will be and only you can decide whether it is worth it. For some, it means little more than feeling a bit hungover from carbs but, for others, the consequences can be more extreme.

For me, it goes straight to my head, literally! I am likely to get migraines again and my depression can come back in a wave. I will get intestinal discomfort, acid reflux and feel terribly bloated. Do I still do it? Sometimes. Unfortunately, the emotional issues that are wrapped so tightly with my addictions around food take over. However, the rehab is faster and easier.

We are going to be tucking these kind of posts away somewhat on the forum because they are not something best seeing the mainstream. Having said that, I think this is an area where compassion is needed so I will be doing my best to help out. Think of me more as someone to give you a hug and a gentle kick than a good whipping!

(Retta Stephenson) #5

Agree 100%. Well said.
How about something like this:
Temporarily off plan.
Or, better yet: a choice, then back to keto.

In the last several years, I have rarely gone off plan. But I understand others have different needs/goals. So no problem with it at all. To each their own. I just don’t care for the negatives that come with the word “cheating”. I prefer the empowerment of words like “choice”. :smiley:

(G. Andrew Duthie) #6

Moving to Winners and Losers > Fell off the Horse

(L. Amber O'Hearn) #7

What do you mean tucking it away? I understand it’s not up to me, but I’m curious about the reasoning behind this.


I actually don’t consider a well chosen drink outside keto at all. I wouldn’t drink beer because it is generally loaded but the drier wines are fine in my book, as well as spirits. Drinking alcohol can hold you up very briefly but there is no reason not to include it in this woe. We are in this for the long haul aren’t we? So we have to make it sustainable. The only thing I have to be careful of is not drinking too much - because I feel awful but also because I get the munchies! I must say though that my appetite for alcohol has naturally diminished the longer I am keto. Fine by me!


There is a category for going off keto called “Fell off the horse”. Posts (of all kinds) will get moved to their natural category after a while. At least that is my understanding at the moment but it could change.

(suzanna) #10

I prefer the term “slip” over “cheat”. Slipping isn’t falling after all. (Although one can certainly slip AND fall!) Slipping means you can catch yourself and prevent a fall. I slip up now and then but only with keto friendly foods so far. The important thing is to go forward in a positive direction immediately when you catch yourself slipping…

(Karen Parrott) #11

Thanks for "bucketing " topics right away. It will make easier reading as the forum fills up with topics. :slight_smile:

(AJ) #12

Some great responses here. I’ve been musing while making the tea and think that “going off piste” is a good alternative; off the normal route, potentially risky, temporarily exhilarating, and a sense of relief when its all over.

(Rick Lawson) #13

How about occasionally indulging instead of “cheating?” Seems like we can all indulge from time to time!


We want posts to be in the appropriate categories so later they can be looked up. We’re creating a reference library for future ketonians!


No! I think indulgence is for something wonderful and decadent.

(Kathy Swanson) #16

Truthfully, I began thinking that through the Holidays I would stay off this forum and FB because of so many people with the need to inform us all that they were going to go off this woe or had gone off, which for me would trigger illness (vomitting, diarrhea, depression, anxiety, inflammation and brain fog, actual brain confusion). I literally saved my life (suicidal) by fighting my way off sugar and grains through Keto.

But, I realized it didn’t make me want to “fall off the wagon” but it made me deeply sad for those who have found a wonderful thing like this way of eating and to chuck it with the hopes that they will be able to come back easily. From so many posts that I have read from those who previously “fell off the wagon”, it hasn’t been that easy for them to do. Learning the hard way is a way of learning but I would rather not learn that way any longer, if possible.

I also realized that not everyone is as disordered as I have been from the SAD and my addiction to sugar. And, I realize too that for some it is so socially ackward and even painful to not eat traditional foods at this time of year. I also realize that I cannot know what it is that they are “falling off the wagon” for and beside all that it is really none of my business, even if they post it for all to see.

I am really so thankful for the added catorgory of “Fell of the Wagon” and know that I will never have to visit it unless I can have the compassion to encourage someone to hang in there and really make this way of eating a complete life style not a weight loss plan etc. I am so grateful for the 2 Keto Dudes and the wonderful admins and how hard they defend our group and make it a positive experience to the best of their ability. I believe this forum will make that easier for us all. Much love and Merry Christmas!

(LongHaulKeto) #17

I love that you posted this. I get that same - wish there were another way to describe it - thought when someone talks about cheating. Like you, this is now a way of life, way of eating for me. I do it 24/7 and don’t give much thought to it. Even when I have folks over (like this weekend) who don’t follow a keto WOE I still prepare a keto menu. Most now know that I don’t do the SAD and have no problem eating what I prepare. They see that they are still getting delicious meals and not being deprived. And if we do choose to have a glass of wine, a piece of dark chocolate, we have learned what we can have and how much. And as you said ‘its a treat’, not an every day part of our eating and I don’t think of that a cheating in the sense the word is normally used. Our lunch today includes a meat and cheese tray, keto spinach dip & cheese crisps.

Dinner will be baked oysters, grilled garlic shrimp, salad and for dessert a pumpkin roll made with almond flour . The filling is made with heavy whipping cream & a little SF pudding (I KNOW I KNOW…someone will say thats not keto but it works in my world).

Christmas day we will have ham, cauliflower stuffing (made it last night and OMG!!! Its soooo delicious), roasted brussel sprouts. a cranberry mold (made with fresh cranberries, sour cream, heavy whipping cream, SF jello) and for the hubby & guests some sweet potatoes. Dessert is a keto peppermint cheesecake - crust made with almond flour)

Gee…kinda got off track but its been an exciting time here, cooking our 1st keto Christmas meal. For gifts I made rosemary infused ghee, macadamia butter, butter roasted walnuts and pecans…now THEY could be addictive. Holy cow are they ever delicious!

Merry Christmas to everyone!

(Meeping up the Science!) #18

We all follow a different path. However, it is also easy to overlook behavior. We aren’t just obese because of what we eat - we are obese because of what we do and think. Biochemistry doesn’t mean crap if you ignore your behavior.

Instead of cheating I call it “choosing consequences.” There are consequences for all actions and choices. Positive consequences are still consequences, after all. I think planned indulgence can be a part of life, too. I am a hedonist at heart. Cake and crap tastes good. It gives us a high. I get it.

I have gone in and out of ketosis multiple times since I started my low carb journey in the 90’s. Why? Because I have a severe eating disorder and a food addiction. None of these times were ever beneficial. The food and temporary pleasure never outweighed the damage done to my health.

I will say it up front: I am an addict. There is no other way to put it. I think if someone has an addiction issue with food, which is extremely common by the by, it is dangerous to do this frequently. If you don’t, that is spiffy! I personally don’t advocate it, however, I will not condemn it either unless it becomes an excuse, a habit, a common occurrence, etc. Much as I would never tell an alcoholic that they can drink “once in a while” if sober, the same applies to me.

You don’t lose 450 pounds by indulging, sadly. Moderation is not possible for me. I have not made bad mistakes for several years. I surrounded myself with like-minded individuals a few years ago, @Brenda being one of them.

(jketoscribe) #19

Dana Carpender termed the phrase “planned indulgence” which I really like. I have several planned indulgences throughout a year, but they are rare and thoroughly enjoyed. A planned indulgence is not a day or a meal. It might be a single food or a course (e.g. Eating a keto dinner but enjoying a sweet dessert). I’m careful to eat keto before so I’m not eating the indulgence out of hunger (which can trigger a binge), I make sure to enjoy it thoroughly (or not if it doesn’t taste as good as I thought it would) and move right back in to keto. Remember that the very next bite you take can be keto again.

I find it really tiresome that some groups I’m part of in the LCHF/keto world devolve into
Nothing but confessionals where people post their “cheats” in detail. I’m glad such posts will be moved to a section I don’t have to read.

It’s very possible to have the occasional planned indulgence without the self-flagellation. Plan to succeed!

(bulkbiker) #20

I kind of get the feeling that people who talk about “cheating” are looking for permission to do it. There seem to be quite a few who are happy to facilitate this with the “oh a little won’t do you any harm” way of thinking. of course it will. The “little” was what got a lot of us here in the first place. I find it quite sad when people say they will eat crap for 3 days because it is a particular date in the year. I really don’t understand why. They have probably walked past pounds of cakes and sweets and not eaten them so why does a specific date make them quit being sensible. That’s just my thoughts on the subject. On another forum I am a member of someone who is Type 2 and diet controlled was wondering whether to take metformin over Christmas so they could eat carbs…