diet advice: cheat days; good or bad?

DIETARY ADVICE
WHAT ABOUT CHEAT DAYS?

It used to be that for the average person, sweets, treats, or eating until one was stuffed to the brim, were things reserved for “special” days.   However, for the majority of Americans, every day is now special.  But once people realize the importance of their diet as it relates to their health, this “binge-o-matic” thought process will sometimes begin to change.  In fact, if a person is changing their eating habits based on ADDICTIONS, AUTOIMMUNITY, CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES, or even for WEIGHT LOSS, their diet often changes radically.  People who were eating a steady diet of junk or reactive foods such as GLUTEN, often become quite strict with their diet as they see the amazing difference that it makes.  But when, if ever, is it OK to “cheat”?

Tim Ferris, along with numerous others, tells people that they need to follow their diet strictly for 6 days and reserve the 7th day as a cheat day.  Others will tell you that it is OK to have one “cheat meal” per week.  Some will even say that this “cheating” can be an all out binge —- just as long as you go back to your healthy way of eating the next meal or the next day —- which ever way you personally choose to cheat.  While this might appear to work OK for some people, there are some inherent problems with regular cheat days.

  • THE FOODS PEOPLE DECIDE TO CHEAT WITH ARE USUALLY TERRIBLE:  I have been eating LOW CARB for the better part of the past two decades.  It is the only way of eating that I can maintain my weight and energy on; not to mention it helps keep MY CHRONIC PAIN LEVEL to almost zero.  But I would be lying to you if I told you that I never cheated.  Although I stay on the wagon far better than I used to, I still fall off at times.   However, I believe that the foods you chose to cheat with are critical to your health and the success of your ability to permanently follow a healthy way of eating.  One of the foods that I recommend people go out of their way to avoid on cheat days is Trans Fats.  For instance, TRANS FATS have a half-life of around 2 months.  This means that the box of Oreos that you wolfed down yesterday, will be staying with you (your cell membranes, hopefully not in the form of TYPE II DIABETES) for much longer than your next couple of trips to the bathroom.  Be smart about what you cheat with.

 

  • THEY CAUSE SETBACKS IN THE FORM OF NEUROLOGICAL REACTIONS:  Let’s say for a moment, that you are eating a PALEO-TYPE DIET because you figured out you are sensitive to Gluten and / or Dairy.  Although you may not have debilitating symptoms like some do, you know that when you eat these foods, you feel terrible.  Just remember, that for the truly sensitive, it takes as little as 20 parts per billion to set off a reaction.  Furthermore, with many potentially-reactive foods (including Gluten), the majority of the symptoms (at least 60%) are NEUROLOGICAL IN NATURE.  In other words, many people do not associate things like NEUROPATHY or PARKINSON’S, with Gluten, even though there is a strong relationship to both. To see why cheating can totally undermine certain people’s ability to get healthy or lose weight, just GO HERE.

 

  • ADDICTIONS:   Not only are lots of people addicted to sugar and high glycemic index starches (HERE), they are often addicted to foods they are sensitive to.  Much of this has to do with the “rush” they get from their Adrenal Glands.  Although there are many consequences to this, one of the most common is FIBROMYALGIA / ADRENAL FATIGUE.  The SUGAR ADDICTIONS, which subsided once you started eating properly, will come raging back every time you break down and choose to fuel them.  As a ‘dry’ sugar / carb addict myself, if you are going to cheat, you have to be very careful to stay on the wagon, because when you do fall off it can get ugly.  You have to ask yourself if eating a package of Pop Tarts is worth the several days of intense cravings it is going to ignite.  I realize that some of you can eat one bite of mom’s chocolate cake and be done with it.  But for most people (self included), this would be the equivalent of said alcoholic telling himself he is just going to have one tiny sip of bourbon.

 

  • INFLAMMATION:  Everything (all sickness, CHRONIC PAIN, and disease) is INFLAMMATION.  In other words, all health problems and disease processes boil down to the amount of Inflammation you have coursing through your body.  Is a regular “cheat day” (binge) worth driving Inflammation  — especially when you are doing so well with both your weight and your health?  I know from personal experience that many (if not most) of the foods that people tend to cheat with are highly inflammatory.  With some people, this inflammation triggers Autoimmune Reactions and other crazy symptoms.  Although it is undoubtedly delicious, Autoimmunity is probably not worth that piece of mom’s chocolate cake — no matter how good it tastes.

 

  • YOU BECOME ADDICTED TO CHEAT DAY:  I have seen people who literally revolve their lives around their cheat day.  Honestly, this is no way to live.  You should control what you eat,  not the other way around.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO CHEAT (SOONER OR LATER WE
ALL DO) CHEAT ON YOUR OWN TERMS

If you are going to cheat, make sure you cheat on your own terms —- terms that you have already agreed to with yourself beforehand.  If you have a plan for all occasions, you are less likely to fall off the wagon with an unplanned binge.  I would highly recommend that if you are eating a certain way to avoid food sensitivities, you do not cheat with those particular foods.  Although I personally love dessert, I rarely eat it.  The two things, however, that I am most willing to cheat with periodically are homemade ice cream and Flan / Custard.  

Falling off the wagon is something that is going to happen from time to time, and for most of us, it’s not the end of the world.  But if you are going to purposely cheat, plan how, where, and why.   Or better yet; treat yourself to something besides food.  How about a massage or CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT? There are numerous things that can be done to treat yourself that do not involve overeating or junking out.   And if you’ve never done it before, make sure to do an ELIMINATION DIET.

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