What are your thoughts on occasional cheat meals? I love doing Paleo. I feel much better when I do it strictly versus eating the standard American "healthy" way, which we all know is not healthy at all.
Case in point: I had some sugar (normally zero sugar for me) on Thanksgiving. I went the rest of the weekend as usual; meat, veggies, nuts and oils. Yesterday I started to feel awful. My energy plummeted, I felt dehydrated despite it being a rest day and drinking lots of water. I just felt like I needed something with some carbs..which I normally do not crave. So my husband and I ordered a thin crust pizza. I ate a small amount and instantly felt better. No bloating, no remorse, and today I feel great back on my normal Paleo method. I know of course that pizza is not optimal, but every now and then can it help propel you when your energy lags and your body is craving it?
I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
For me, the framing is the important part because paleo isn't a temporary solution, it's a whole new way of living my life. I do occasionally eat non-paleo food, but I don't consider it cheating. I consider it a normal part of living in the real world.
My goal is not to avoid every shred of non-paleo food for the rest of my life, instead my goal is to make paleo foods the primary focus of my diet and make sure that on the rare occasions wwhen I make other choices I am making a conscious decision to do so, not a spur of the moment decision based on momentary weakness. For example, if I decide to go out for sushi I am making a conscious decision to have some rice. I don't think of that as cheating.
I think Kewpie gave a great answer with regard to treat meals and such for psychological benefit. I am a BIG believer! I tried for years to be 100% and I would always end up face first in the bag of Doritos somehow. I was all or nothing and it was a completely disaster. Planned breaks are a very good thing and learning how to do this was the key to my weight loss and my ability to manage my weight now.
I think though that what the OP is speaking of two very different things here. Cheat or treat meals are one thing. Allowing yourself to let loose and enjoy the joy of food, any food, can be a wonderful thing and effective strategy to staying on plan. Choosing to cheat for physical reasons though is something else. There should really be no physical feeling that cannot be managed with paleo foods IMO. If you feel the need to eat carbs then by all means do so and see what happens but eat a potato or a piece of fruit not a pizza for heavens sake. Don't get me wrong I think it's fine to eat a pizza every now and again because a good pizza is one of the great joys of life. It shouldn't be the answer, however, to "I feel like I need more carbs in my diet". That is a very slippery slope it seems to me. There's a whole lot of head-game involved with sticking to a particular way of eating and it's SO easy to fool yourself into thinking or convincing yourself in a moment of want that cheating to feel better physically is the right way to go.
You're lucky. Anything with gluten is always regretted for several days after. It's just not worth it anymore.
As far as "cheats" in general, I prefer to call them "off-plan" choices. I agree with Kewpie that we can't frame it as an either/or. But I do think it helps to completely stop considering that stuff food at all. But I'm also all for going with the social flow as far as you're comfortable and able.
I would caution against thinking the pizza did anything to help you. My husband sees this all the time with folks who demand antibiotics for colds and magically get better. Of course they do, but what they don't realize is that they would have gotten better without them too, they just didn't wait long enough to find out.
Which is to say that even on the best of diets, we're going to have days we feel tired or dehydrated or whatever. It's called being a human on earth. :)
Every time you eat suboptimalll, it's suboptimal. You might choose to be 100% paleo, or 90%, or 80%, or you might plan to eat that pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or whatever. Cheating isn't a good thing. But if you do so rarely enough, it's no big deal. I'm speaking physiologically here.
Psychologically, depending on who you are, you might only be able to be strict if you get all obsessive, which is bad. Or you might be like an alcoholic, where a cheat leads to a binge, so you'd better not cheat at all.
So don't get all obsessive, but don't think that a cheat is psysiologically healthful either.
One last point. If you are low-carb paleo and you cheat with pizza and feel better, maybe you you would feel even better if you ate sweet potatoes or white rice instead.