“Cheats”- Take ‘it or Leave it
Some people don’t believe in the word “cheats” in reference to eating foods that they “shouldn’t” eat. I have always called them that and it doesn’t bother me. I can see why people might avoid the term if they are trying to stick to a clean-eating lifestyle for overall wellness or weight loss, because there is a place for less-than-good-for-you foods in a balanced lifestyle (and the word “cheats” has a negative connotation. In that situation, I agree that a piece of pizza is not a cheat (if you are not avoiding it because it aggravates an illness), it is simply part of a balanced life.
However, in my case there truly are some foods that don’t agree with my body and trigger symptoms. So, cheats they will be called!
My family and friends are all aware that I choose to cheat once in a while, but that might not be obvious to everyone reading my posts. So, in hopes of being totally transparent in my lifestyle, I want to talk about the times when I choose to eat non-Paleo foods.
Why would I cheat, you might ask? If eating Paleo has done such wonders for me (which it has) and I really love cooking and eating real foods (which I do), then why would I eat things I know might make me feel like crap?
‘Cause I’m human. That’s why.
I am still astonished at how cutting processed foods, GMOs, and overall JUNK has changed my taste buds. I was never a person to eat fast food often, but when I indulged in chicken nuggets from the drive-thru, I was in heaven! The last time I ate fast food was in 2013 I believe, and I could not finish the chicken nuggets out of being so grossed out. What a beautiful thing.
Now, I see snack foods that line the aisles of traditional grocery stores and think, “What nutrition is that packaged/fake cheese/sugar-laden snack going to do for anyone’s body?” Not only do I not crave these types of food anymore, they actually look so unappealing to me.
But, I still have a *few* weaknesses. Some of my favorite guilty pleasures are doughnuts, Americanized Chinese food, really good bread, some pastries, and bagels with cream cheese.
I know some of these are worse than others, and clearly I have a thing for refined carbohydrates! Obviously I don’t eat these often, but if I decide to intentionally eat a cheat food, it’s likely on one of these.
Cheat with Intention
That leads me to the process of deciding on if I am going to cheat or not.
Sometimes there is a birthday or special occasion and I know certain treats await me. If it’s worth it, I will go for it. Sometimes I know beforehand and sometimes it’s a last minute decision. (Do I think about food way too much?!).
There are two main points to consider before I cheat.
- How am I feeling? If I am flaring, or recovering from the holiday season or lots of cheats lately, then cheating right now is usually not a good idea. There are times I have to remind myself that food isn’t going anywhere. I can treat myself when I feel well in the future.
On the flip side, if I am feeling AWESOME, I may want to keep that going.
- How will I feel emotionally/mentally afterwards? No one should ever feel guilt about food, but it’s something that I sometimes still encounter (although I have gotten so much better at). I have realized that sometimes if I make a brash decision to cheat because a food is in front of me, I regret it later because it wasn’t even that good. Then I’m hard on myself for “setting myself back” when it was not worth it to me.
If You Can Avoid It, Good For You!
I already mentioned how a lot of common foods turn me off now. But the weaknesses I mentioned earlier in the post still entice me (sometimes). If you are someone who has had a complete revelation and has no intent to cheat in the future, I truly applaud you. Keep doing what you’re doing!
This post isn’t meant to say eating foods that don’t agree with you is okay, or should be done often. And I am definitely not advocating that you start cheating if you are perfectly happy eating clean!
I wrote this as a way to show that I am not perfect and none of my Paleo idols with enormous followings are either. In fact, they constantly Instagram photos of #notpaleo foods, and I love them for showing us their real lives! These Paleo people have actually helped me not feel food guilt. If they eat Paleo most of the time and feel great and not get down on themselves when they have something that’s not Paleo, why should I?
What’s Your Philosophy?
I am really curious to hear how you feel about “cheats.” Do you feel the same or differently as me? What are your favorite cheat foods?!