The Importance of Cheating

Screen-shot-2011-04-14-at-10.22.13-AM.pngI’ve been searching for a while for just the right scholarly study to demonstrate to you that too much deprivation in your diet will only lead to binge eating later.  I can’t find a good one.  Then it dawned on me that I probably don’t need to prove that to you since most of us are probably case studies of this very point.  We can all attest to the fact that when we feel deprived of something, we go after it with a vengeance once we let ourselves have it.

This post is to remind you of that fact, and to give you some encouragement in cheating on the Paleo diet every once in a while if you feel deprived.  Yep, the nutritionist just told you to cheat and eat some cookies once in a while.

Considering that about 2/3 of this country’s adult population is overweight, I’m going to assume that most people who are reading this have at some point thought to themselves, “Wow, I could really lose a few pounds.”  After noticing your bulging midsection, many people probably do some research to find the newest, most explosively popular, most unsustainable diet out there, wherein you will only be allowed to eat 500 calories per day.  Never fear, though, you’ll get an injection of hormones derived from the urine of a pregnant woman that will magically cure you of your hunger pangs!

If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m talking about the hCG diet, which a lot of people have embraced lately, even though there isn’t any scientific evidence to support the claim that the hormone will suppress hunger.  Most of the people I’ve heard of who’ve gone on this diet (except for one) have gained back all of the weight (or more) that they lost on it.  Who wouldn’t eat like crazy after only being allowed to eat a fraction of the minimum recommended daily calories for months on end?

The hCG diet is a really extreme example of deprivation, and I’m not saying that the Paleo way of eating is totally comparable.  However, almost all of us grew up on grains, legumes, dairy and refined sugars (some of us almost exclusively), and when you remove these things that you’re so physically and emotionally attached to, there may very well be some feelings of deprivation.  Followed by a gluttonous backlash.

Fortunately, when you do it right, the Paleo diet is satiating, full of nutrients and it provides us with all the carbs, protein and fat we need, so it’s really sustainable in theory.  In this modern world, though, we have to watch people every day eating all of our most favorite, doughy, non-Paleo foods.  In order to avoid being totally stressed out by that and tempted to quit the diet altogether, I think it’s more sustainable to eat those foods once in a while. Or more often than once in a while.  I’d rather see you eating Paleo 50% of the time than 0%.

The Paleo diet, in its purest form, is incredibly good for you.  It’s nourishing.  What isn’t nourishing is stress, though, so if that bowl of refined semolina pasta is what’s going to relieve your stress once a week, dig in.

And remember that Paleo Plan offers the option of having a “Flex” day on your grocery lists, for those people who want to eat their old favorites once a week.