Many of us doing the Paleo thing (or similar) embrace the notion of the occasional cheat. Mark Sisson goes as far as advocating the 80/20 Principle as part of his Primal Blueprint -- stick with the plan 80% of the time and you'll be okay. Others are very strict with their diet and swear off bread, dessert, etc. for good. I'm a bit more in the middle -- in regular life, I stick close to 100% to what I consider ideal but I will occasionally go way off plan for a family event, fancy restaurant, or just a really darned good looking pizza at a friend's place on a Friday night. I'd estimate that a really excessive cheat like this occurs maybe once a month or less.
I think most of us have also embraced the notion of intermittent fasting. I prefer a spontaneous approach to fasting -- for example, skipping a meal if I'm not hungry -- compared to a more systematic, scheduled approach. One trigger that I find works well for me is to do a fast in response to a cheat, particularly a carb-rich cheats. My rationale for this is to force the depletion of glycogen stores to compensate for the carb-rich meal. For example, following Friday night pizza, I might not eat again until a relatively late and small Saturday night dinner. The fast seems to set me back on track in terms of hunger and energy levels more quickly than if I just returned to 100% ideal regular eating.
Just to make it very clear, I'm not talking about regularly binging and starving like an insecure teenager. I'm also not talking about using fasting as an excuse for cheating or arguing that cheating is a good thing and that fasting makes it okay.
What are your thoughts on this? Assuming that a cheat has happened, is fasting a good way to get back on track? Is it better to deal with a relatively high carb meal (high by our standards) by attacking the glycogen stores with a fast or is it better to ease the body back on to a fat-based metabolism by providing it with dietary fat? What approach sends the right hormonal signals?
EDIT: I realize that this has a good chance of provoking a debate about whether cheating itself is okay. A couple of weeks ago, gilliebean brought up the cheat question here so please head over there if you wish to discuss the merits of cheating!