Cheating on Paleo and a Few Other Questions

by 5 · September 11, 2013 at 03:31 PM

Ok so I'm fairly new to paleo and have a few questions.

I started about two weeks ago after reading Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution. I haven't noticed a huge difference, although daily headaches which I used to get are gone. I'm not 100% convinced that this isn't due to another change I made recently though.

Anyway like the title says I have a question about "cheating" on paleo. There seem to be two schools of thought here... 1) it's ok to cheat once in a while if it keeps you sane and you stay on track most of the time, and 2) cheat foods are horrible and don't ever eat them.

I'm leaning more towards 1). If you're on track 95% of the time I can't imagine cheating once in a while will throw your body totally out of whack.

Anyway my question is about coke (coca cola, not cocain :D). I LOVE coke. I've cut down from about 3 cans per weeks to zero and haven't really had an issue. I would like to be able to have it once in a while though. I don't know what I'm really asking here, lol... I guess what's an acceptable cheating schedule? One coke per week? One a month?

I know it may be hard to answer because nobody knows my personal physiology, but all I can say is that it doesn't seem to affect me at all. I don't get a sugar rush or a crash or anything. I think I have very good glucose tolerance.

I'm also curious about eating buckwheat for breakfast. Rob's diet plan is very low on carbs and very high on meat... which I really don't think I can handle. I love meat, but it's a chore to prepare meat for every meal. So I've been having buckwheat for breakfast basically. I know it's paleo, but it's basically all carbs, so is that sense is this a "naughty" breakfast? Am I just shooting sugar into my blood? Again I seem to feel fine from it (other than some minor gut irritation), and it hasn't affected the headaches.

Lastly, is whey protein ok? It's in Mark Sisson's primal formula stuff, so I assume it must be? I'm not huge on protein powders, but I'd like some possibly just for an easy breakfast. I'm not talking about bodybuilding crap, because who knows what's in there on top of aspartame/sucralose/etc... ideally it would be something natural like Mark's stuff, although that's a bit expensive.

Ok I know that's long, but any answers are appreciated :).


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22 Replies

26073 · September 26, 2012 at 01:10 AM

In terms of cheating....

There are cheats, and then there are CHEATS.

I would put things like Wine, Dark Chocolate, Whipped Cream with Berries, etc as cheats

I would put things like Smores, Coke, Cinnabuns, etc as CHEATS.

it's ok to have occasional cheats. You should really try to stay away from CHEATS.

18427 · September 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM

Why would you cheat on Paleo? What did it do forget your anniversary or something?

4956 · September 26, 2012 at 01:02 AM

In response to cheating - Try 30 days strict paleo and re-evaluate your cravings after that. You will find that the majority have disappeared and that your perception of some tastes have changed. Example: I was a HUGE diet soda drinker (multiple cans per day) and I worried how I would be able to cope. After "detoxing", I noticed my taste for it was gone, even trying it, it tasted like it wasn't real food/drink (which it's not). I liken sugar addiction to any form of psychoactive drug addiction. One wouldn't give a junkie some crack just because he/she is craving it. (Disclaimer: I am NOT a drug rehabiliation specialist). Once your body systems and hormones normalize, the cravings will subside.

In response to protein powders for breakfast and eating meat. Skip the powders and eat some real food. MAKE THE TIME TO PREPARE YOU FOOD! These are substances that you are putting inside your body. Taking extra care time here pays you back with EXPONENTIALLY more and higher quality time later. Also, food preparation if done correctly and for multiple meals is not time consuming.


2036 · September 26, 2012 at 01:04 AM

I'm one of those that are more liberal with my ancestral-type diet. I fall into the 80/20 camp of things, with the caveat that you still avoid the things you are allergic/highly intolerant to (for me, that's gluten). Though I do believe that sometimes you need to completely avoid a lot of commonly scorned foods for a while, just to see if eliminating and reintroducing them reveals some underlying sensitivities. It's probably a good idea to determine your range of allowable dietary habits, beginning with the ideal situation (moderate carb, whole-food, primal, for me) to the least healthy you may allow in a situation (anything gluten free, for me). I aim for the ideal the majority of the time, but knowing that eating some gluten free bread or some M&Ms on occasion is probably not the worst thing I could do does keep me sane and motivated.

I will note, many people stay on track better when they don't allow cheats. Some stay on track better when they do. Finding out which you are will probably answer your question.

632 · October 06, 2012 at 11:11 PM

I had a nasty diet coke habit that ended last year. I mean like- 3-4 large bottles/week. When I grew up it's all we drank, unless it was a different diet tonic.

Try being a strict paleo for 2 months, then try a cheat. It will give you enough time to truly see the benefits, then see what happens with a cheat.

I have celiac disease, and when I was first diagnosed (>1 year ago), I would pick one weekend I had off, go out to eat with my sisters, and eat an insane amount of pizza. Then I'd be totally sick (probably couldn't go to work if I wanted to!) and I would lay on the couch for two days. I did this three times, in three consecutive months, and after the third (horrible one), I will never be eating gluten ever ever again.

Diet coke- meh, I don't feel so great, but I will have a small one if I'm going out. My alcoholic "cheat" drink is either cherry rum and seltzer (YES- Lame, but I love it), or some red wine (usually). I drink alcohol once every 4 months? I turned 21 last year, and couldn't have a beer, but that was just ok.

8004 · September 26, 2012 at 08:49 PM

If you really, truly, want a soda every now and then, I think there are far worse ways to go than this:

Zevia -- soda sweetened w/stevia

Their cola flavor is pretty good -- like a real COLA...with a little nutmeggy flavor. (Sounds weird, but it's very yummy.)

You won't find it in your regular supermarket most likely, but Whole Foods carries it and so do some mom & pop health food stores. (At least they do in my area.)

25 · September 26, 2012 at 06:24 PM

Regarding the headaches, try supplementing with magnesium. I recommend Mag-Tab SR. I hear others like SloMag.

Regarding the cheating, don't do it! If you have the strength to say no, then say NO!

My first few days on low-carb/paleo, I felt terrible and hungry and migrainey. But now, on day 53, I feel great.

Cut the buckwheat, cut the coke, eat your meats, veggies, and fat. If you want a coke, have a cup of coffee with coconut milk and oil and a banana/peach/apple/melon. You'll get your caffeine and decent dose of sugar, but in a much healthier way.

Tough love, dude. Just say no.

Also, just a note, I miss coke too. We keep it in the house for grandpa and I just have to say no, even though sometimes I crave it.

2166 · September 26, 2012 at 05:16 PM

As to cheating, your tolerance for it or ability to do it may differ from others'.

For me, one little non-paleo treat can (and usually does) lead to an avalanche of horrible gluten- and sugar-containing goodies, sometimes for days. If this is you, stay away!

If not, do what makes you feel good. We all know there's nothing good about Coke, but if it makes you happy to have one every now and then, I say go for it. I'll bet, though, that after eating solely whole, real foods, the soda will taste more like chemicals and just not so good anymore.

3663 · September 26, 2012 at 12:58 AM

You do it or you don't. Starting a lifestyle change with an emphasis on cheating is simply not going to work.

It's your life, go for the best you can be.

162 · September 26, 2012 at 12:55 AM

In reference to the Coke, you may be surprised to find an increase in sensitivity to sugars once you have adopted the paleo lifestyle.

You also may find that your tastes change...Just a thought.

314 · September 26, 2012 at 12:10 AM

There is a difference between eating Paleo and eating low carb. You can be doing one without the other, or you can be doing both. Which do you want?

0 · September 11, 2013 at 03:02 PM

First of all there is no cheating, just eating towards a sustainable and realistic goal. Folks that jump all in and going to live by the strictest of rules in their diet plan are like most Americans doomed to fail. This has been proven time and again. Also makes for great marketing for new and improved diets to come along for you to buy into. So if you want to drink a coke, fine, drink one. In fact I too love my Coke, my Mexican coke which I suggest you try and get off the other stuff. I just finished off a case of Mex coke the other day. Took over 6 months to drink 24 bottles. And many of those were drank after a long hard down here on the ranch. I also like my beer, Grolsch beer, I think I have 3 or 2 bottles left out of a case that will be a year old this month. In the case of beer I drink with a good BBQ steak or other enjoyable meal. Make your off-paleo fun and enjoyable and linked to an activity rather than just consuming to be consuming.

If you want to be successful on Paleo and do so as a lifestyle change than you will need to widen the scope. You still attend parties, dinner at a friends home, go to breakfast and lunch with co-workers etc etc. Think moderation and tie your other than Paleo to some acitvity even if its slinging a chainsaw all day and working on a John Deere. Kick back, drink your coke or beer, eat some birthday cake and maybe a slice of Artisan bread with that fresh salad...you will enjoy it and it will satisfy.

20 · September 09, 2013 at 04:19 PM

I'd encourage you to find a tasty kombucha to have instead of Coke. There's even a brand in Austin, TX called Live Kombucha that mimics the flavors of Coke, Sprite, and Dr. Pepper. Personally, I prefer the ones made with ginger (masks the vinegar flavor well) or fresh fruits. It's still cheating, and the flavors that taste good are usually still loaded with sugar. BUT, it's about half the sugar of soda or less; it's loaded with probiotics, B vitamins, and healthy acids; and most are produced with organic ingredients. Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but I never regret cheating with kombucha every once in awhile.

Also, Topo Chico mineral water has really helped with my cravings for soda as well. The excessive carbonation is extremely satisfying. Adding fresh lime or ginger helps too. But seriously, try drinking a Topo Chico with a meal, and I promise you will be surprised at how much you enjoy just the carbonation.

0 · September 09, 2013 at 03:40 PM

As a past Coke addict (the drink, obviously) you may be surprised after awhile that you won't want one. I haven't had Coke in years and my husband had one the other day and I tasted it and wowwee woowah, it was WAY too sugary and kind of gross actually! I will say though that I still love drinking seltzer, so you might find that to be a helpful substitute.

0 · April 26, 2013 at 03:17 PM

I have been on the Paleo diet for nearly a year following the 80/20 rule. At first I lost weight significantly, but as my body adapted to the Paleo ways, I realized that my body became less tolerant of my cheats and My weight started to come back. I recently went strictly Paleo and have not cheated for two weeks, with the exception of a few home cooked potato fries. I feel better than I have in quite some time and have lost weight quickly. I am a foodie, and it is very hard to resist ordering food like I used to when out, but what I've found is that I like the wholesome food offered at restaurants and have found some great blogs for cooking at home such as [link text][1]

[1]: http://purelytwins.com It's important to find the ingredients you need to make some fun Paleo foods, and enjoy life and not just restrict yourself to only the basic meats and vegetables. There are so many great recipes available and some creative ways to eat out. Most restaurants are becoming increasingly aware of Paleo anyhow these days!

0 · March 17, 2013 at 03:27 AM

Ill throw some different parameters in the mix from my own experience. I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week and eating about 1500 calories a day, not necessarily healthy Ive come to learn, but basically did away with sodas, processed sugars, friers and the like. I had consistently had a cheat day once a week and after about 6 to 8 months, I found I could even cheat twice a week occasionally even while missing a week or two of working out. Im new to the paleo thing and am liking, but regardless of what eating regimen I read, the caution at the end of every article is basically this; tweak the plan to fit your likes, use moderation, exercise regularly (doesnt have to be 4-5 times a week) and you will be fine.

I would caution you on the protein powder for one simple reason. I was using it daily and ended up with a kidney stone. Ive scrutinized everything else in my life at that time and protein powder was the only culprit left since other foods and dehydration were not factors. Also keep in mind weird things happen to me that dont happen in general :-) good luck!

15261 · October 06, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Different "cheats" seem to affect people different ways. For example I regularly have cheese, wine, and sometimes beer, which are all cheats, but don't cause me any issues. However even a tiny amount of wheat, corn, or bad oils (i.e. vegetable) cause me stomach problems and inflammation. I have pretty much given up all refined sugars, and even a small amount of those make me feel weird. Starchy foods make me feel bloated and weird too.

There have been other posts here where people have eliminated things like GERD, or broken through a weight loss plateau by dropping something like milk, tomatoes, coffee, or other cheats or near cheats.

So I would not worry about something being a cheat because of some Paleo dogma, instead figure out what does and doesn't work for you. A Coke is about the least Paleo thing you can eat so I would drop that. You'll be amazed at how different food tastes when you don't eat any sugars, you will appreciate other flavore much more.

There is debate over whether or not Paleo means low carb. I do much better on a low carb diet so that pretty much makes up my mind on that. Depending on your health goals and tolerance to starches you might try the buckwheat pancakes, but regularly having a starchy breakfast is not Paleo.

24412 · September 26, 2012 at 08:58 PM

A Coke every once in a while is fine as long as you split it between 2-3 people. Think back to when it was introduced and the serving size was 7 oz. I think the dose makes the poison. My entire family will share 1 can every 3-4 weeks.

0 · September 26, 2012 at 05:16 PM

i'm thinking that maybe your headaches disappeared because of your decreased intake of coke? My dad had headaches every day when he would drink sodas and he stopped and his headaches disappeared... just a thought.

0 · September 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM

I also have headaches daily and was wondering what the "other change you made recently" was? I'm pretty new to the Paleo lifestyle, but still get headaches sometimes. Just trying to figure it out. Thanks! Sorry I asked a question instead of answering yours! : )

-2 · September 26, 2012 at 03:30 PM

Hi, A very recommended book written by the famous French nutritionist Pierre Duncan. Basically this book which you get from Amazon, it is here to guide you and tell what you should eat during your diet. Check this link to find out : http://tinyurl.com/c66l7wh :)

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