Normally, when people talk about food, cheating is associated with eating something that is supposed to be off the menu (or not eating something that is supposed to be included as a healthy option). So, what if we take a moment to turn the notion of cheating upside down? Here’s a perspective about food I hadn’t considered until I sat down to write this article.

We’re just ending the holiday season when food is everywhere in abundance. Although the following tips are great for the season just past, it makes good sense during the rest of the year during other festive times.

If, during normal times of the year, you’re supposed to eat healthy food and avoid junk food, but you don’t… well, then you’re cheating on your diet. However, during the holidays, all those suppositions seem to get inverted. Family, friends, and co-workers will pressure you to eat horrible foods in gargantuan portions, and they may even scold you if you don’t partake. Peer pressure is a form of manipulation that nearly always goes badly. Crazy, but true.


Hear me out: If you sneak in the chocolate and doughnuts during regular days, why not sneak in the good stuff during the holidays? Would the notion of being subversive help you preserve your fitness and wellness gains? You know you’re “supposed” to be eating a nine-pound slab of bacon at gramma’s place, but what if you were to break your “diet” and sneak in eating something more sensible? Perhaps this psychology can help you remain balanced during the season of overindulgence?

I’ve always been prone to being contrary, so that alone would be enough for me. Well, that and sheer vanity. I never said I was perfect.

Perhaps you would like some insider information on how I have cheated the system? How I have cheated on cheat days? Alright, here we go. But don’t tell your momma. I don’t want any hate mail from her claiming that I starved you at her house. This is just between you and me.

Before you go somewhere that will be doling out treats, drink 16 ounces of water and eat a handful of raw, unsalted almonds along with one ounce of the hard cheese of your choice (e.g. Romano, Cheddar, etc.). Fill your belly with something healthful, so that when you arrive your appetite is already partially slaked. You’ll be able to nibble and munch at everything for show, so no one will be able to say you’re being a party pooper. You’ll be participating, but you’ll also need to eat less to get full.

Another tactic I have used to avoid thousands of calories without looking like a humbug, is to fill a little plate with treats to walk around with. I then walk around with it all night. Most people won’t notice that you are nursing the plate slowly, so they won’t criticize you for not sharing in the fun.

To accomplish the same for mitigating alcohol: Get a glass of mineral water with ice and a shot of grenadine. You’ll be holding some bubbly liquid with color, and no one will bother pressuring you to drink and drive or undermine your fat loss regimen.

Cheating while cheating can save you all sorts of problems during the year after, especially after the holidays, as well as other celebratory occasions. You won’t have anywhere near as much fat to lose, you won’t have to recondition yourself to eating properly, and you won’t have to contend with sugar withdrawal symptoms. Your immune system will stay stronger during cold and flu season, and you won’t have to work so hard for so long to get ready for spring and summer beach visits. This is one of the few instances where I will encourage you to cheat!

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at and He is also a former staff writer for qnotes.