What are the possible pros and cons of having one "indulgent" day a week?
I'm thinking foods like nuts, fruit, dairy, chocolate, wine, icecream, sweet potatoes, with the honest possibility of overeating...
The reason I ask is that, although these foods are Paleo, I don't feel well eating them on a regular basis, but cutting them out completely is equally as hard on my mind (ie. Too strict.) I have difficulty with guilt, and suspect that having one preplanned day in which to indulge in these will help curb that, as well as with over-worked/under-slept-induced cravings during the week.
What are your thoughts? Personal experience? Leptin response? Once a month instead? Every day instead?
My personal experience is that it works better to be spontaneous with it. That provides you with the relief from that feeling of oh my God, I can't have this anymore, but, at the same time you are probably going to end up having those foods a lot less often than once a week. You know you can have it, but you end up choosing not to because you know it's always there if you choose to have it. I think if you tell yourself something like Saturday is my indulgence day then you will end up indulging every Saturday because it still feels like oh my God, I can't have this any other day. I must have it now or lose my opportunity.
I say go for it. I do this routinely, usually about once a week, sometimes both weekend days. Others can give you the more scientific responses, but I know for me it makes me feel excellent and lets me get through the rest of the week without too many indulgences.
I drink 2-4 glasses of wine almost every weekend, but no more than 2 in one day. Do I feel fantastic the next day, not all the time, but the satisfaction I feel from the enjoyment of a good wine outweighs the negative effects.
People overlook the positive mental aspect of cheating. I say go for it, just try not to overdue it to the point you feel guilty.
I'm really not as strict on paleo as I was for the first couple months. But I've found that having my occasional cheat meals is not a slippery slope back to pre-paleo weight gain and overall crotchety-ness. Maybe my metabolism has been optimized on paleo, so that I bounce back more easily. That said, I gauge my physical reactions to poorer food choices, and this is enough to get me back on track with paleo. For example, I was in Vegas and went to a buffet and nibbled on a bunch of stuff, mostly whole foods. I think it was the salad dressing and the sugar in the dessert that did me in - and my stomach bloated rock hard! Yet this is what I was used to pre-paleo, stuffing myself and getting bloated, then hungry, and on. So I would not worry about cheat meals if that works for you long-term.
I have some girlfriends who swear by cheat days and have a scheduled one, once a week. I think it's all in what you need and evaluating the negative effects and positive effects.
One friend says it helps her remember how great eating well makes her feel, because the day after the cheat day she always feels like crap. Another friend says it helps her keep on track, staving off cravings until "the" day so she doesn't fall off the wagon otherwise. These are non-paleo friends though, just ones dieting in general.
If cheating will help keep you on track more of the time, and you can find ways to "cheat" that you feel less guilty about, maybe it's not so bad. I personally can't eat the cheat foods I'd want to (like sugar, cheese and wheat) because I get so ill. If I were going to cheat it'd have to be with something like rice and have a sushi roll instead of just sashimi. But boy, would that ever be amazing.
I've also heard the argument that cheat days, since they are often more calorie heavy help to jump your metabolism again... though that sceincey mumbo-jumbo may sound psuedo-accurate, I don't know how eating crap can HELP you when you're trying to just feel good and be healthy.
Try it out? See what happens? You can always opt not to do it again :)
I try not to cheat but I dont beat myself up if I fancy something and indulge. I also am not so strict, I eat fruit and dairy daily and sweet potatoes and nuts occasionally and I feel good. (I am also pregnant so I am trying to increase my carbs through fruit) When I do eat the other things, or indulge in processed high sugar foods I feel terrible! So I do it rarely, when I feel compelled, but it quickly reminds me not to do it again for a while. So do what makes you feel good, what works for YOUR body. (I am also a white potato lover so I usually treat myself to some sort of potato dish once a week but I compensate by keeping my carbs low the rest of that day) :)
Once per week would be too often for me, but I'm a food addict and I'd soon be completely off the wagon if I indulged weekly. At that frequency, I may have an extra piece of fruit or some extra raw veggies, but my true cheats occur only on major holidays. I'm also trying to misplace some pounds and that makes a difference. If and when I achieve a nice lean weight I could see indulging myself in some moderate fashion a couple times per month. With my history, though, I'll always need to be careful.
One of the things I like most about paleo is that there are so many great "treat" options, like those you list above. I treat myself whenever I feel like it really, which might amount to a few fudge babies every now and again, or just a few dried apricots. There are so many paleo-esque options, I find I'm very rarely ever legitimately tempted.
I don't call it "cheating" but sometimes I indulge in things that are not optimal. Yesterday we spent the morning with granddaughters and went to The Wonderful World of Coca Cola in Atlanta. The end of a tour you get free coke to take home and tastes of all the Coke products sold round the world. I sampled a few and cleared my palate with water. We went out for Thai food. I got a meat salad, but the dressing must have contained sugar. I ate some white rice which usually is ok for me and ate the coconut tofu soup. After lunch we went to Ben and Jerry's. I had a scoop of coffee ice cream. Today I have uncomfortable bowel issues. I've become more sensitive to sugar than I would have imagined possible. The indulgence wasn't worth it. We had fun with the girls 'tho and they would not have cared what I did or didn't eat.