I’m going to issue a warning right off the bat – this is not going to be pretty. First I need you to reread the title of this post. Okay, now I need you to really think about if you’re ready to hear what I’ve got to say about the subject mentioned. If you think you can handle it, great. If you’ve already got this weekend’s “eat like an @sshole day” planned out, you may want to reconsider proceeding. In the event you choose to keep reading – consider yourself warned. All right, now let’s do this.
My motivation for throwing down on the topic of ‘cheat days’ was fueled by a comment left on my last blog post. So, you can thank Kristen for this one. Here’s the comment to give you some background:
“As long as you have a cheat day every week, who cares about baking stuff with coconut flour … just be a good Paleo dieter the rest of the week and gorge yourself on Saturday!” –Kristen
To be honest, when I read this for the first time, I cried inside a little bit. Just WHAT?!?!? I think the word gorge is what put me over the edge. I mean, really?? First off, food is meant to be ENJOYED. It is NOT meant to be GORGED on – that is NOT healthy for your body or your mind. This is exactly the reason I HATE 30-day challenges and “Carb Night” plans. It sets up a cycle of deprivation and then complete debauchery follows. In the ‘cheat day’ scenario, food is being used as a ‘reward’ for good behavior. Um, are we dogs? Have we not learned that eating MINDFULLY and enjoying our food is the goal of all of this? Is it okay to eat pizza, ice cream or a cookie? Hell yes! BUT eating them in mass quantities all at the same time is bat-shit crazy.
Why? Because sure, if you start your ‘cheat day’ with a pile of pancakes or French toast drenched in syrup it’s highly likely you enjoyed the shit out of it. But if you followed that up with a mid-morning snack of a Cinnabon, lunch at your favorite burger joint (and yes, you did “like fries with that” and a milkshake too) and then polished off a medium pizza and a pint of ice cream at dinner – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that at some point you stopped enjoying your food and kept eating for no other reason than that you ‘could’ or felt you had to get it all in because, well, it was your ‘cheat day’. Go big or go home, am I right?? Reality check: if you ‘do it up’ big on that “cheat day” you really CAN undo all or most of the good you did during the week, especially if weight or fat loss is your goal. These ‘gorge fests’ add up FAST – so if you’re not seeing the results you want, think long and hard about Hoovering that package of OREOs or Paleo cookies. And during this shovel it in session, are you ‘eating on auto-pilot’ or are you eating mindfully – tasting and enjoying EVERY SINGLE BITE? If you’re not truly tasting and enjoying your food – that’s a problem. Your goal shouldn’t be to feel miserable at the end of the day – it should be to feel satisfied and know that tomorrow you’re going to feel good. Food hangovers need not apply.
Now let’s talk about the name itself – “Cheat Day”. It just feels dirty and wrong. Is eating miserable on days that aren’t a glutton-fest? Do you dread your breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week? Are you choking down foods you hate just because some website told you it was healthy? Well, here’s the deal – you should be enjoying every meal that you eat and that includes less than perfect meals. There should be no feeling bad or guilt associated with eating. So, you had a cookie on Tuesday. Does that make you a bad person because your ‘cheat day’ isn’t until Sunday? Um, no. And is ONE cookie going to make you grow a third butt cheek? Magic 8-Ball says, “All signs point to NO.” Now, eating an entire package of Chips Ahoy with a pint of ice cream, a large deep-dish pizza and chugging a 2-liter bottle of Coke on Sunday – every week and that third butt cheek thing might be more of a possibility. These ‘gorge-fests’ have a MAJOR impact on your blood sugar and insulin levels and not in a good way… Even more importantly – it’s HIGHLY likely you didn’t enjoy all of that food. Sure, it tastes good BUT when you reach a point of being satisfied it’s okay to be done. If you feel like you’re going to explode, you’ve crossed into binge territory and that’s not good for your body or your mind. Seriously, a cookie on Tuesday and a couple slices of pizza and a beer on Saturday will do a LOT LESS damage than an all-out food-a-palooza on Sunday and you’ll feel a hell of a lot better on Monday too.
Yeah, you heard me, it’s okay to have a treat (it’s not cheating – cheating only happens in Vegas and the bedroom…) and to ENJOY your food. This doesn’t mean eating only lettuce and dry chicken breasts all week so that you can ‘earn’ the right to gorge yourself on the weekend. What it means is that, if you want a damn cookie – it’s OKAY to have a cookie. Not a box of cookies, a quart of ice cream and a can of Redi-whip – but a cookie (maybe even two). A cookie is what you are craving and cookie may be all it takes to scratch that itch. And guess what? If you want another cookie tomorrow – you can have one! You don’t have to eat them all within an allotted day or time period. And this might sound crazy but I’m guessing that letting yourself enjoy (that means ZERO guilt) the occasional cookie, slice of pizza, cupcake, etc. is going to go a lot further in satisfying those cravings than is one day of eating insanity. On top of that, in the long run, partaking in what many consider ‘off-limits’ foods on special occasions or when you are truly craving something will do LESS damage to your body and definitely to your mind. It’s HEALTHY to ENJOY food – and that means ALL food – broccoli and brownies!
Eating mindfully and stopping when you are satisfied – not completely miserable – is the key. Sit down when you eat. Turn off the TV, computer, phone, etc. and have a ‘moment’ – focus on the food. How does it taste? Smell? Feel and make you feel? Does it taste absolutely awesome or is just, meh? Would you rather be having something else or is this the shit with a chocolate covered cherry on top? If whatever you’re eating is just okay and you’re not really enjoying it (think stale potato chips, the last few bites of the dessert your kids didn’t finish, warm beer, etc.) then stop eating it – it’s not worth it and it will leave you unsatisfied and wanting more. That is not the goal. Also, remember that food will not fix your problems. When you are craving something, check in to see if it’s a true craving and not stress, boredom, anger, etc. that’s fueling your need to nosh. And for the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – you don’t have to eat the whole thing if you’re satisfied with two bites AND it is highly likely you will live to enjoy another cookie or whatever your ‘poison’ is. This is not your last rodeo, cowboy.
So, morale of the story: Don’t be an idiot. There’s no reason to jump on the restrict/binge “cheat day” or “carb night” train to justify eating foods that you truly enjoy. Eating like an @sshole only accomplishes a couple of things: 1.) It makes you miserable and often there’s a food hangover the next day too – BONUS!! (picture me rolling my eyes…). 2.) It sets up the idea that certain foods are good and others are bad (NOT TRUE) and creates feelings of deprivation and guilt (NOT OKAY). 3.) It messes with your body and your mind – and not in positive ways.
Maybe, instead of being a ‘good Paleo dieter’ during the week and ‘gorging’ yourself on Saturday it would be a better idea to listen to your body, eat food that nourishes it and makes you feel your best. ENJOY everything you eat – everyday. If you can’t picture yourself eating the way you are right now 5 years from now – you’re doing it wrong. If you’re truly listening to your body – it will not let you down. The crumbs on the bottom on your third bag of Doritos on gorge-fest Saturday on the other hand…
The try to do strict Paleo and then lose control and go overboard thing is why I’m now allowing nearly everything but still trying to emphasize animal proteins & vegetables. The rules were causing too much anxiety. Main problem is trying to not overdo the sugar. Sigh.
Amy Kubal says
SO glad to hear it!!!!!! Your body AND your mind need to be healthy and this needs to be sustainable. Thanks for inspiring my post though! 😉
I am thinking of trying this diet. It seems to allow me to eat the foods I love. I am a carnivore and the thought of not eating meat kills me. But with this diet I know I can have it. I love bread but can leave it before i could ever leave meat. Lol. I am ready to try this
Love, love, love this! Food is meant to be enjoyed! I totally enjoyed my sardines and cabbage drizzled with avocado oil. And I will enjoy a few squares of chocolate later. I love food. I follow a Paleo lifestyle but hate to even label it that because labels are so restrictive. I just eat good food. Some days more, some days less. Depends on how I feel. I enjoy a glass of wine or two on the weekends. I never feel like I am cheating. Just published a post on my little blog last night that is totally along these lines…it’s all about balance.
This is one of the best articles I have read! And I love, love, love the sense of humor!
Beautifully put! “hate to even label it that because labels are so restrictive. I just eat good food.” I don’t believe in the word diet and you’ve given me a way to avoid any label completely! Labels have always been a turn off for me because either I’m mentally restricting myself too much, or others around me pick up on my choices and label them for me or restrict me. No more labels of any kind – “I just eat good food”.
oops…spelled my name wrong on first comment:)
I totally agree with this. A planned “cheat day” is nonsense. It sets you up for failure because for most people the cheating doesn’t really end. I really don’t understand this way of thinking.
I’m fairly new to this type of eating, but I don’t want anything to derail me. The food I’m eating tastes great, wild salmon and avocado for lunch.
I feel stronger than I have in a long time. Eventually, I will have a treat now and then, but I want to incorporate it into my daily life, not regular binge fests.
Great post, Amy.
Haha so awesome!
Guillermo Ruiz says
Funny enough, I was having a conversation with one of the docs at my school. He told me that a big problem with this paleo mindset is that we “live to eat”, he chooses to “eat to live”. Orthorexia anyone? Eating is so personal, and I would not like to live on the other side of the spectrum either, I enjoy to eat, and if my food tastes good and is good for me, WHY NOT BOTH? There is a balance, where we can eat healthy nourishing food that tastes good! No need to cheat folks. 🙂
Dean Mitchell says
What Amy said. 🙂
Jen Atkinson says
This! I just finished up a Whole30 (that ended up being more like a Whole41 because we did it during our Lent) and the idea of binge eating a bunch of food just because I can, or I haven’t had it in a month, kinda makes me queasy. Heck, I tried a bit of chocolate cake after church last Sunday- evidently the “OMG THIS IS SO SWEET!” faces were pretty funny.
Galina Davidson says
Robb, you are owesome!!!!!
Robyn Wood says
I am enjoying the Paleo lifestyle and have just found out that I am allergic to dairy (NOT lactose intolerant). I also suffer from Acid Reflux when I eat foods not recommended by Palio. I love meat of all kind. Don’t like fish and HATE most cooked vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, greens, you get where I am going… all the good ones), unless they are smothered in some sort of dangerous sauce. I can tolerate raw spinach in a salad or wilted under some meat, but not every meal or every day. So you say to eat mindfully and enjoy what you eat, but I don’t and I feel really guilty about it. I seriously would rather not eat, than eat cooked vegetables. I’ve tried raw, but without the ranch dip, I don’t eat them that way either. Any suggestions for a really picky vegetable eater trying to eat Paleo where 2/3rds of the plate should be veggies?
Amy Kubal says
You gotta buck-up and try things – new ways of preparation, new veggies and if you may find that if you start eating things you ‘don’t like’, that in time, you start enjoying them.
For Robyn: Amy is right….try roasting your vegees! We do ours in the toaster oven broiler thing. Easy. Asparagus is amazing wrapped in some bacon?? Even the humble zucchini gets caramelized in a yummy way???? Good health to you!
If you’ve tried different ways of eating veggies, and still none appeal, perhaps you can stick to just eating meat without feeling guilty about it. It blew my mind that this was even possible and that there are people thriving on an all-meat diet!
I’m not saying that this way of eating is for everyone, but it sure seems to agree with some people, at least — and maybe it will suit you, too.
A couple of places to start that I found very helpful:
Apologies in advance to any paleo folks who are outraged at the idea of excluding veggies… I wish to inform, not offend.
Hey this scared me big time:
“I’m going to issue a warning right off the bat – this is not going to be pretty.”
But this is really good and pretty and well said 🙂
Amy Kubal says
Scare tactics are the key to my success… 😉
AMEN! What you said is the difference between a “dieter” and a “person who eats”. Yes, we should be eating mostly nutrient dense whole foods. Yes, we should enjoy eating those food items by cooking them in such a way that makes them delicious and enjoyable.
BUT, if I want ice-cream, an alcoholic beverage, or a cookie….I eat it and move on. Sometimes I do intake too many or too much ice-cream, an alcoholic beverage, or a cookie.
BUT, I move on….live and learn. The mindset around food is the major issue. Don’t “diet”! Just EAT!
Scott Simmonds says
Saw the comedian Ron White a few weeks ago. Best line of the show: “My doctor put me on a diet with a cheat day every week. Now on Wednesdays I screw my sister in law.”
Justin Berrington says
Well… Now I want a cookie.
Amy Kubal says
You can have a cookie!! (Just not a whole package of cookies…) 😉
I love that you addressed the dreaded “cheat day” idea. However I think you left out the importance of and for some, the primary teason one may be on the paleo diet; kryptonite foods.
A cookie is not okay if you have a wheat allergy. Even just one can trigger an allergic reaction, resulting in inflammation and other not so fun stuff.
If you have some grey area foods like dairy, these would be the only foods I would consider if you really want to “cheat”. Just my opinion.
Thank you for saying this. I came apon this diet for health reasons and call me weak but I have a major sugar addiction, one cookie or spoon full of ice cream has always ended up in disaster within a week of my “little treat” I am not overweight but come from a long line of type 2 diabetes. I check my blood sugar regularly and I do notice the morning after eating sugar – not binging just eating a bowl of ice cream, it’s always over 100. I have a gluten intolerance complete with multiple symptoms if I eat any… So no I don’t think having a little is ok for everyone. I really struggle with this, because I can’t stand the fact that I feel like my health problems my entire adult life (42F) and multiple food allergies have really distorted my relationship with food.. I really hate what it’s done to my mind having to restrict so much but I do have health problems when I eat those foods, but then I also have the emotional or mental problems surrounding food now because of all these items I’m not allowed to eat or I can’t eat without bad symptoms..
The Petey says
Cheers! The “cheat” thing has never worked for me. A cheat meal turns into a cheat day, turns into a cheat weekend, turns into “I’ll start again next week”; the binging just builds. If I were to have anything that is close to a ‘cheat’ these days it’s going out to dinner with friends and it’s really more just not worrying about it. I look at the menu and weight what is good for me and what looks mouthwateringly good and pick the winner. As I clean up my act and pay attention the two more and more often become the same thing.
Yes – this is totally me!
Raina Singh says
THANK YOU! Seriously, I was nodding along vigorously with every sentence and then raised my arms to the sky in adulation after finishing it – this post is too awesome for words.
Amy, you are fabulous.
MIke Madrid says
Amy, that was a great article. I think my up bringing was always if you take it, you need to eat it all. Forget that, I’m a grown up and if I want a bite of a cookie or most of a slice of pizza I shouldn’t feel guilty about throwing the rest in the garbage. Moderation and balance.
I still can’t stand waste. It makes me ill how much food is thrown out when people are starving am over the world. I guess I’m if the mindset that if I’m lucky enough to have it I have to finish it. But I try to balance this by making sure I get smaller portion sizes. So far is working out for me.
Taking smaller portion sizes is a good technique to deal with the “mustn’t waste” sentiment.
When that isn’t possible, you can always think of this this way: The food you pile on your plate but don’t eat isn’t going to make it to the starving people anyway. Eating it won’t help them — but it will harm you.
And then there’s the “wasting money” sentiment that tends to afflict me: I paid $20 for this pizza, so I should eat that last slice… But no. The $20 is out of my pocket regardless of whether I damage my health by consuming all of it instead of a moderate portion.
Jared Plemon says
Great article and entertaining to boot. I think you hit the nail right on the head. If you want to kick your heels up and eat some pizza, kick your heels up, but you don’t have to treat your mouth like a garbage disposal one day a week. Eat the pizza because you want to eat the pizza, not because you “earned it” or just need to reward yourself for the self-flagellation your eating plan requires the rest of the week. If your eating plan is so miserable that the only way you can stay on board is to participate in a 24 hour junk food orgy once a week, you are doing it wrong!
Karin B says
I love your honesty and frankness in your blogs. Keep it up!
Great article. I cut out cheat days when I decided to get serious about my health and was able to finally break through my weight loss plateau. I’ve never looked back! The best part is, I never feel awful on Sunday or Monday!
BRAVO! This is exactly how I feel.
When I’m with friends or family who are eating friends and family food, I simply ask myself whether I want to partake then and there and if so, how much? I try to be aware and, as you said, “mindful”, of my body and the context. Too much carbing or beer/wine and I’m achy and tossing and turning that night. So, the consequences are immediate. Sometimes I partake and sometimes not. It’s up to me, IN THE MOMENT! And if I’m being very aware and mindful then I can make modest choices and not have it throw me off my long-distance plan.
Here’s something that helps me. I learned that there is ALWAYS going to be pizza and ALWAYS going to be ice-cream and ALWAYS going to be beer. Unlike my paleolithic ancestors, I actually CAN pass up that food and I won’t miss out because there’s going to me more VERY SOON! 🙂
Terrt Simpson says
What do you mean a can of RediWhip is bad? OMG now you tell me.
Thank you Amy for writing this. What you’ve said means this to me: Being healthy doesn’t mean eating a “healthy food”; rather, it means having a healthy relationship with food.
When I’m 80 yrs old, I want to say I enjoyed the apple pie and ice cream of life, and not the bloated binges on whatever day someone arbitrarily said I should.
Fill my belly with pleasure, not with pain.
Amy – wonderful that you are who you are and share with others. Thank you!
A real eye-opener! Thanks for that post!
I vouch to re-name Cheat Day to Miserable Eating Day — that puts in perspective 🙂
YES! This is it right here!!! Well said, Amy!
Bullshittery is now in my lexicon, thank you very much! I can even use it in a sentence about eating inappropriately.
Amy Kubal says
Hey, I’m good for something! 😉
Awesome post!! Thanks.
I like the emphasis on enjoying food, although when I was 60 pounds heavier, I was enjoying it, even the feeling of being stuffed. Now, though, after trying elimination of different categories (gluten, soy, added sugar, etc.), when I have large amounts of food with those categories in it, I don’t enjoy the feeling – the pain… hurts. My “cheat days” have turned into a treat meal here and there. The longer I eat mainly Paleo (about 5-6 years now, and I was eating Zone before that), the less I can go off. The best part is that my cravings have become less over time, and more specific – any old chocolate won’t do (I like increasingly darker chocolate, and I don’t need much). This post also really makes me think of the Hartwigs’ recommendations of considering your “relationship” with food. It took me a while not to finish the whole pizza out of sheer pride, since I’ve long been a “big eater.” Finally, I love the emphasis on not gritting your teeth through chicken breast and lettuce throughout the week – it’ll only last if you like the food you eat every day!
You are hilarious. Black and white thinking is what made me fat in the first place. If I can’t eat perfectly healthy I’ll eat it all, has been the way I’ve lived in the past. All or nothing has, in my experience, given me nothing.
Thanks for the incredibly funny, but pointed, reminder.
Tracy Morgan says
This is SO right on for any form of eating, whether you’re paleo, vegan or any other clean eating. Food is for nourishment and should be enjoyed and binge days always seem to lead to binge weekends then binge weeks…..it’s pretty sad. THIS article is great and I’m sharing the hell out of it!
I’m sorry, but I fail to grasp the logic behind the
‘Cheat days”. Why should I poison my body with everything that I stopped eating at some point? After I saw how much better I feel and live without hig processed food. Just because people around me eat it? Or I used to eat it? Or I feel embarrassed that instead of “cheese” (not even close to cheese) drenched pizza I opt for a salad with chicken strips? Because OTHERS will judge me? Oh c’mon people grow up. If you cheat your body now it will pay you back when you least expect it. It’s like in a relationship. Don’t cheat your loved one. Revenge is a bitch!
craig kelly says
Real success is all about amazing relationships with all things food, exercise and self!
WHY would you punish yourself with “food like stuffs” in a feeding frenzy.
When all is said and dusted don’t let the fork be the weapon that digs your grave!
Great article and awesome to see so many agree on this topic that food is fuel to both the physical and the mental! GOLD 🙂
Kasey Lynch says
Love Craig Kelly’s quote! “Don’t let the fork be the weapon that digs your grave”…profound.
Thank you for such an insightful post!! As someone mentioned earlier, I have seen many well meaning athletes fall to orthorexia without even realizing it. Although they are physically healthy, they are obsessed with righteous eating and then feel so guilty for bingeing on something “bad” that they try to make up for it for berate themselves.
This article is exactly what is needed to show folks that living should be balanced, mindful, and enjoyable!
I live this article. Being a nutritionist for the Air Force, I hear “everything in moderation” batted around so much. The unholy cheat day should only occur twice a year (a big bowl of candied yams for thanksgiving, anyone) but the everything in moderation thing really sinks people. Well, I only had one coke, and one ice cream scoop, and one slice of pizza today, so I’m doing good. I usually give my patients one cheat meal a week. Be it pizza, or an ice cream cone, or whatever. Also, your cheat meal doesn’t have to be that much of a cheat. It could be going to a restaraunt and getting a nice steak, with a fully loaded baked potato, and some broccoli.
Amy, what about the “metabolic reset” or “thyroid slowing” or whatever physiological benefit that is ascribed to the cheat? An example is Tim Ferriss’ book that talks about it.
Is there any science behind this? is it more bullshittery?
Joe A says
Really spot on….I enjoy Paleo Foods….because I CAN COOK…..And I feel so good eating Paleo…I don’t really have cravings for crap foods very often.
And yes…the concept of Cheat Foods…make them a naughty indulgence that makes them even more desirable.
I will eat a home made pizza (Real Stuff, not the cauliflower variant) when I want too…just not every week….
That being Said…the same can be said of “Paleo Treats”…If you think Paleo Doughnuts, Bread, Cookies and Waffles are going to give you a green light to gormandize…guess again….You will get into the same trouble overeating these things and often…the Paleo variant is 2-300% higher in Calories because of the nut flours, and oils. Again once in a while why not…
Amy Kubal says
Right on! And we already went there!! http://robbwolf.com/2015/03/05/paleofication-just-because-the-label-says-paleo-doesnt-mean-its-healthy/
Sheri Smith says
Love it !
At first I thought Robb Wolf wrote this article 🙂
So STRAIGHT Forward ! Fantastic ! it was Robb Wolf’s articles & book ! That got me back to health…Okay…okay…But I did the ‘work’ … I used to say that I eat “Paleo way of eating” now, I just say, I eat Clean…No Processed CRAP ! I buy all single ingredients….and cook. Nothing from a can, bag or box !!! since 2012 !!! My health has never been better, and I just turned 54. Whoop !
Eliz H says
Who needs “cheat day” when plantains exist?
Thanks Robb! This so needed to be addressed. Right before Thanksgiving 2014 I spent 5 days in the cardiac ward of the local hospital. I was aware of and had flirted with paleo / primal off and on (mostly off) for a few years, but I committed to the lifestyle full on. I lost 62 lbs., got off 2 high blood pressure meds I had just been put on, the reflux med I had been on for 25 years, the allergy meds I have taken most of my life and never had to start the diabetes meds my doc told me I might have to start. I have more energy and am in better shape at 60 than I was at 30. I had NO TROUBLE transitioning to a paleo way of eating, without any form of cheat meal, ever, period. I avoid most grains and sugars, but don’t freak out if I occasionally ingest a non-paleo item. I just don’t get the whole cheat concept. Why wreck a week of healthy living and have to start over. Your body will never make the full recovery from a lifetime of eating crap if you regularly hammer it with the same old shit. Oh, and the whole “paleo treat” thing is just stupid too. It can lead you right down the cheat hole. If you just gotta have a cookie then have a damn cookie, just make sure it’s a very rare occurrence. After the results I’ve had you couldn’t force me to start some cheat day habit. I’d only be cheating myself.
Great article! I have a question though… I am like a total crack addict with sugary foods. The minute I have that cookie, it’s like I can’t help but have more (and more). You may say it’s not hard and I should have more self control, but it is a huge problem for me. I will not even want any sugary stuff sometimes, but it’s like I am possessed and before I can stop myself, there I am scoffing down shit anyway. And the whole time I am eating that crap I am hating myself and not really wanting it. Much like an addict, which I would know because I used to smoke. Except they don’t have a patch for sugar. So…. my question is, do I give up sugary addictive stuff completely, or do I keep it in my diet? I can cope with cutting it out, for a few weeks, but it always finds me again, and when it does all hell breaks loose as you describe in this article. If I should be keeping in in my diet the please can you let me know any strategies that would help me gain some control?
Robb Wolf says
Here’s my thoughts on this: There is not a one size fits all approach to this. Amy has worked through eating disorder issues in the past and her trigger for that process appears to be (in part) too many (possibly any) rules. For her, she needs this to be totally open ended lest she fall into some bad patterns. For 99% of people however the problem is hyper-palatable food hijacking the neroregulation of appetite leading to excessive eating. This is where the noting of “everything in moderation” is an abject failure.
You seem to have a good sense of where you are on this spectrum, it seems like avoidance is the smart move for you.
Thank you for your insight and for shedding light on the background in which Amy has approached this article. Deep down I do know that this is an individual thing, I think that when you read an article like this, from an addictive mind set you can give yourself a false hope that you too can be just the same! I still think this is a great article and I just need to face the reality that I will have to get my kicks from the beautifully nutritious clean food that I can eat. As Amy said, eating needs to be a mindful process and that is something I really take away from this post.
Robb Wolf says
Keep us posted!
I have the same issue Tash, and for me setting boundaries is the only way to keep myself from spiraling out of control. I had the same thoughts about this article, I will never be someone that can just have a cookie and walk away. I think there would be benefit in at least acknowledging readers like us in these articles.
Chris Arwood says
I relate to your comments, Amy. I am not on any specific diet, but have gravitated between starvation and gluttony. I too am unable to have anything and walk away. I either have to really restrict myself and be miserable, or I eat everything. It’s very frustrating.
I am considering the Paleo diet, or clean eating, but I’m not sure which will suit my needs.
Kimmi G says
This is the truth! Love it, tell us like it is!
Addison Johnson says
This article will indeed, open some minds to the realization that one of the cause of obesity and other health issues due to too much eating is false hunger. Amy is right that instead of eating a handful of every cravings (if they are really cravings), try to think twice or even thrice if it is really hunger or you’re just eating out of boredom, stress or other personal problems you are experiencing in life. I also agree that the key to a successful guilt-free diet is taking time to savour the food you are eating, even identifying or naming which ingredients were used. Eating while doing something will only push you to ignore the amount of food you have already consumed. I have been there and I’m sure everyone too. You know, craving for that sweet little cookie or chocolate. Treating yourself once in awhile will not hurt your diet. There are even types of chocolates that are helpful in a healthy diet. A few minutes of reading this article is worth it.
Irasema Garcia says
Complete agree! LOVE this post! With so many articles out there saying what’s “wrong/bad” to eat, it’s very easy to lose sight of the real goal and to start fearing food and developing unhealthy habits. If “being healthy” it’s causing you stress and making you deprive yourself then… hello, ain’t healthy!
Emily St Julian says
This is really well stated. I think it gets at the heart of what is making most of us crazy about food – black and white thinking. A recent discussion with my husband revealed he still thinks of Paleo as my “diet” (as in something you do for a certain amount of time or until you lost a certain amount of weight). One thing I have learned is that using a primarily Paleo template is the opposite of a diet. It is sustainable. Completely agree with the comment about being able to see yourself eating this way for the next several years. Thank you!
Patti Smith says
I just happened in on this blog while I was looking for Robb’s book The Paleo Solution website. Well, I couldn’t find the website but I have questions that need to be answered. Where can I get a list of all foods that contain Vitamin K. I am on a blood thinner because my last PT/Inr came back as a 5.7. It should be between 2 and 3. I thought I knew all the foods I shouldn’t eat but I guess not. Can you help me? Patti
I cannot remember the last time I actually “enjoyed” what I ate. I’m 48 years old, 300 lbs and miserable as hell in this body. I ache all the time, I don’t sleep without taking Ambien every single night, and even then, I feel like crap when I wake up because the Ambien gives me such a hellacious “hang-over.” I’m committing to making a change in my life to eat healthier so that I can lose about 125 libs. Thank you for the swift kick in the butt to open my eyes to what I’m missing.
I love this so much. It really hit home. I notice that when my husband and I sit at the table. I fill up faster than when we sit in front of the TV to eat dinner
And you are so right about just eating the cookie. Cheat days are psychological and do more harm than good.
Thank you so much for this article. It has made me feel better already. I like it when people are blunt and to the point.
i watch my portions and eat lean, and felt guilty for having two scoops of ice cream later that evening. This has made me fell better. Again Thank you.
Unfortunately I am not the type who can eat just one cookie or one slice of pizza. It is all or nothing for me. I align more with the more recent post ” The Failureof Moderation” written by Diana Rodgers. If mindful eating works for you that’s great. For myself, abstaining is the key.
This article ran deep for me. I really needed to hear this. I wanted to be like everyone else and use “cheat days” but secretly they made me feel awful physically and emotionally. I was too embarrassed to admit all of the mind f***s that went on when I had cheat days. Isn’t it silly that I actually hated cheat days and all of the guilt and anxiety they created but I kept doing them??? Thank you!
Makki K says
Firstly, let me say what a well written article. and I am happy to see that Kristen has piped up in the comments here and learned a valuable lesson.
I agree with you in that the all out binge-athon that people call a cheat is a terrible idea and of no use to anyone. During my earlier attempts to get healthy I did not know why I wasn’t losing weight! I was exercising every weekday and took the whole weekend off. I know better now.
Ultimately, we want to reach the stage where “cheating” is not needed. A stage where you would eat a balanced diet that includes veggies and “bad” foods (there are no such thing as bad foods). but In order to get there you have to employ some form of cheat meal. It took me many attempts to get healthy but the one I found that works the best for me is a planned “cheat meal” every 2 weeks. and it is by no means an all out binge. It can be something I am craving( or just enough of it to feed the craving and become satisfied but never to overindulgence) . Over the years my cravings have changed because of the small changes I’ve been maintaining for my diet. From a pizza craving to a gourmet lettuce burger. So it can be a useful tool in weaning your body off processed/sugar/high carb and switching your palate to enjoy more balanced types of food.
I myself have written an article about cheating, but I mostly look into the physiological benefits and the strategies to employ when designing /planning your cheat meal. (For anyone that is interested the physiological benefits only happen when you’ve been on an extended caloric/carb deficit or have plateaued in some form or another. If you don’t fit these criteria then it’s purely psychological and it helps keep you going)
P.S. Like many have said before, you’re a great writer 🙂
P.S.S I now have an image of a third buttcheek. You referenced it twice so now it’s kind stuck in my head. I both adore you and hate you for that.
P.S.S Is it a third buttcheek in the sense that there are three lined up side by side or as an extra one at the top to make a triangle like structure with the other two?
The best part about this is it’s almost guaranteed that people of the Paleolithic were good starving martyrs for stretches and then gorged themselves on whatever foodstuffs they happened upon. But I’m sure you imagine they had ziploc bags of preportioned calf liver, organic carrots and grass fed butter with them at all times! Only on Saturdays would they gingerly indulge in one almond flour cookie (maybe two?) after drinking a full gallon of bone broth.
This one really hit home for me. I’ve always done the “cheat on the weekends” thing, but have recently found that 1) it screws up all the “good” I did during the week (and I use the quotes because like you said it shouldn’t be good vs. bad, just FOOD), and 2) I just don’t feel good after I do it, and it seems to make Mondays even harder! And the food hangover thing is REAL y’all!!! It is worse than an alcohol hangover! I just suffered through it this past weekend, and it was truly hell! It kind of makes me feel good, because I think that means I’m on the right track and making better food choices for my body the majority of the time, but it still sucks!
Anyway, moderation is sometimes hard to measure, but it seems like the more real food I eat, the more real food I crave, and at some point the two become one making those 1 or 2 cookies more doable than before (i.e. I couldn’t stop at 1 or 2 I would have to eat 1/2 the package, or more, to feel satisfied). I’m hoping I can incorporate things better as I continue my journey and not hate myself when I’m not perfect. I just have to remember that there is no perfection. No one is, nothing is, and you’ve just got to enjoy life (and food!!!). 😛
Thank you Amy for this post! It was very helpful to me today! 🙂
Steve Lowrey says
I tried the 5:2 diet and ending up reversing it so I dieted for 5 days and ate normally for 2. But I didn’t eat normally, I pigged out for the 2. Still, I lost the weight bout slowly.