Cheating on Your Gluten-Free Diet is Cheating on Your Health

Cheating on Your Gluten-Free Diet is Cheating on Your Health

Cheating on Your Gluten-Free Diet is Cheating on Your Health

Are you ever tempted to cheat?

Does walking past a bakery filled with gluten-full foods leave you feeling frustrated and deprived?

How about in restaurants or at parties… ever feel like you’re the only one unable to enjoy breads, cakes, and other gluten-filled dishes?

If you answered yes, to any or all of those questions, you are certainly not alone.

In fact, I’ve recently come across more than a handful of faithful members of the Gluten Free Gigi Family who have emailed or reached out on Facebook or Twitter to say they have cheated on their gluten-free diet. Uh oh.

My Reaction When I Hear that You Cheat

Oh, my gluten-free goodness, it pains me so to hear that happened. It doesn’t disappoint me, I do not judge you and I certainly do not suggest you lack willpower. 

In fact, I tend to look within when I receive notes from you revealing that you slipped a bit… What could I do to help inspire you to stay the course? What words of motivation and inspiration can I share to prevent this from happening in the future? How can I help you overcome the feeling of needing to cheat?

No, I’m not a martyr, and I am not delusional, thinking I can save you from yourself. But I do care for each and every one of you. When I tell you it’s the Gluten Free Gigi family, I’m serious. Whether you want me as part of your extended family or not, I consider you part of mine.

Asking myself those questions about what more I can do to provide some encouragement and help to those of you who do struggle from time to time with gluten temptation (or really, any temptation) prompts me to share some tips and strategies with you.

3 Tactics for Dealing with Temptation to Cheat on Your Gluten-Free Diet

Cheating on Your Gluten-Free Diet is Cheating on Your Health

This photo is one I took on my recent foodie/fitness adventure where I did take time to relax.

1. Relax.

I know, it sounds so simple, but there is more to it than “just chill out”. Let me share some provocative research on the topic of temptation.

According to research from the University of Illinois, individuals who are actively motivated to change undesirable habits (i. e., those who focus on not cheating on their gluten-free diet) may actually be sabotaging their own efforts.

It may sound counter-intuitive; however, in this study on self-control and pursuit of a goal, researchers found a relaxed state is best to squelch temptation.

Specifically, instead of trying to avoid temptation, which is shown to lead to impulsive decisions (like grabbing that gluten-filled cupcake), relax your thought stream and adjust your focus to a more positive aspect (perhaps on healthy living, clean eating, etc.).

Eliminate thoughts of overcoming gluten and controlling yourself and instead, increase thoughts of embracing your gluten-free lifestyle, exploring all the naturally gluten-free edibles out there and healing your body with foods that nourish you.


2. Choose your words wisely.

Cheating on Your Gluten-Free Diet is Cheating on Your Health

Before I became a neuroscience researcher specializing in chronic inflammatory pain, I conducted human research. Some of my work involved developing a novel approach to helping individuals exposed to domestic violence regain their confidence and self-esteem using language.

It turns out (evidenced by my research published in the journal, Family Therapy, and from that of a long line of much-better-known linguistics researchers before and since), the words we use to convey our intentions are powerful.

Words create a strong feedback loop in our brain and that influences our behavior.

For example, each time you tell yourself you “can’t” do something, the feedback loop created is one that implieslimitations. Applied to the idea of resisting the temptation to eat gluten-filled foods (and ultimately cheating on your gluten-free diet), this language of “can’t” sends a message of being forced to do something and having no choice in the matter – an unpleasant and negative thought indeed.

On the other hand, telling yourself (or others) you “don’t” do something (I don’t eat gluten-containing foods anymore) creates a feedback loop that reinforces your positive power over your own behavior. With the simple change in language – from “can’t” to “don’t” – you suddenly empower yourself to resist the temptation because you are telling yourself this is your choice.

Over time, these subtle, yet powerful messages we send ourselves play a vital role in helping us remain true to our plan for optimal health and avoid the pitfalls along the way.


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