The term “cheating” implies that you have consciously made a decision to break the rules of your diet and are willing to accept the consequences. Cheating on diets is common, and in fact, falling off the wagon and getting back on is a natural expectation when following a self-imposed diet. It’s an inherent part of the process as you transition into a different phase of eating, whether it’s a shortor long-term goal you’re aiming for and whatever your reasons for the diet, be they losing weight or getting healthier. But for those who must follow a gluten-free diet for life to avoid severe physical implications, there is no lenience for cheating.
If you have celiac disease, any gluten you ingest will shift your body into attack mode to fight the evil invader (gluten), and in the process cause some level of damage your body will need some time to reverse. Even if you’re gluten intolerant but not celiac, cheating on the diet will also have its symptomatic implications that will take time to reverse.
The psychology of cheating takes on new meaning with a gluten-free diet. The mind-body association with gluten becomes so strong that the memory of feeling sick will often be incentive enough to avoid gluten at all costs, and conscious cheating will not be an enticing nor acceptable option for you. If you don’t feel the pain associated with ingesting gluten because it is “silent” damage for you, your incentive to cheat needs to be stopped in its tracks. One way to help stop any thoughts of cheating involves vivid visualization. While you may not feel uncomfortable symptoms as a result of ingesting gluten, you must visualize the damage taking place within you. It’s not a pleasant thought to envision how new, healthy villi in your intestine can become inflamed and flattened as a result of your noncompliance to the diet.