I started following the Paleo Diet nearly a year ago, and it has been one of the most significant changes I have made in my 31 years of living! What started as research-in-action via a Lenten challenge has become a framework for eating and living that I absolutely LOVE. When I decided to “go Paleo”, I did some research to get me started and went with it.
Over time, I figured out what worked for me and what didn’t. I realized that the Paleo Diet is a framework and that each person needs to tailor it to fit him or her.
Personally, I have completely omitted all grains [some folks still eat white rice]; I have completely removed dairy from my diet [I found that I have a sensitivity to it and omitting it has made my bloated feeling totally go away]; and I eat more lean protein [chicken breast, turkey burgers and turkey tips, 90% lean grass fed meat, fish, eggs] and stay away from the less lean things such as bacon, pork, sausage, chicken thighs, bone marrow, etc. This is sheer personal preference, as is my choice to keep drinking 2 cups of coffee per day and enjoy red wine and tequila in a moderate fashion. I understand that some fellow Paleo Dieters may do things a bit differently, and that is fine.
What I don’t understand, however, is how some folks have a “cheat day” once every week. I know several people (mostly Paleo via Crossfit) who eat within the Paleo framework 6 days per week and then go absolutely nuts on the “cheat day”. With this type of system, I just don’t understand the point of even following Paleo at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a person should not allow him or herself cheese, bread, beer, pasta, rice, etc. in a small amount once in a blue moon when they want to. But gorging on things like pizza, wings, chicken Parmesan, pie, cake, bagels, soda, cookies, etc. ONCE PER WEEK is absolutely ridiculous to me.
The thing I have the hardest time understanding is why a person would continually choose to consume foods that undoubtedly make them (quite literally) feel like shit. I know that when I eat clean, I feel great. My workouts are A+ and I feel strong, lean and fit. When I do allow myself a “cheat” once in a while, I feel awful afterwards. I have learned that it isn’t worth it. I cannot consciously put something in my body that I know will cause that much discomfort and negative feedback.
Maintain a diet that is full of real, whole, nutritious foods that are extremely close to their natural source, and that is precisely what a person’s body will come to expect. To then sabotage this healthy effort by eating foods that are not only “Paleo illegal”, but highly processed as well is a form of shock to the system. I personally believe the benefits to a Paleo Diet framework are muted if not completely undone by a scheduled, regular “cheat day” once per week. If a person “buys into” the Paleo Diet enough to adhere to it 6 days per week, then WHY blow it all on processed crap that 7th day? It seems backwards to me!!
I’d really like to hear feedback on this topic. Like I said, it is completely subjective so maybe other people have had different experiences. Share your story with me. Do you agree? Or are you a fan of the “cheat day”?