TO CHEAT OR NOT TO CHEAT
To do this diet correctly; for the first 30 days you cannot cheat --- at all. The reason is simple. Foods that people are sensitive to (Gluten for instance) have the ability not only to cause Neurological Problems, but they can cause Inflammatory and Autoimmune Reactions at amounts as low as 20 parts per million (ppm). This means that every time you cheat, there is a high probability that you are firing up your Immune System and creating an antigen / antibody response ---- something that may take several days (or longer) to work through. Dr. Russell Schierling
Virtually all disease processes (even many of those that we like to blame on "BAD GENES") start in SIMILAR FASHION. You are likely reading this post because you have heard about some of the potential ADVANTAGES OF GOING PALEO, and are ready to try it yourself to see if it could help you. But the truth is, you don't really know how or where to start. How in the world do you implement the program? What do you eat? What about snacks? What about recipes? How long does it take to see results? Most people thinking about going "Paleo" have about a million questions. Although I have written numerous articles on this particular topic, there is an inexpensive, easy-to-understand book that I recommend you get and read from cover to cover.
An Elimination Diet, as defined by a popular online dictionary involves, "entirely removing suspected foods from the diet for a period of time from two weeks to two months, and waiting to determine whether symptoms resolve during that time period". These foods are then added back, one-at-a-time, every few days, in order to precisely determine which food(s) produce adverse reactions. Although I do believe that in many cases, two weeks is enough time to provide the desired changes, this is not always the case. To make sure you do not miss anything, I recommend "The Whole 30" --- the thirty day Elimination Diet described in IT STARTS WITH FOOD.
WHEN IS IT OK TO CHEAT?
When your body makes Antibodies against an offending invader (a bacteria or virus), it files the blueprint away in a computer-like memory bank. This is why with most diseases (measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox, etc), you only get them once (the common cold is caused by a virus that is constantly mutating, negating the effects of "Antibody Memory"). In other words, with many different invaders, your Immune System can recall whether it has created antibodies against it already, or not. Unfortunately, many people's bodies perceive certain foods as invaders. When this happens it creates Antibody Immune Responses against these foods. Since it's so common, let's use GLUTEN --- wheat protein --- as our example. As crazy as it sounds, these immune responses can take place with a trigger as low as 20 parts-per-million (PPM). In other words, if you are sensitive to it, the next time you eat Gluten, your body will remember this fact and react against this perceived "invader". What does this mean in practical terms?
It means that if you are on a PALEO DIET solely for weight loss / weight maintenance, the occasional CHEAT DAY is probably not a deal-breaker for you. Don't get me wrong; for some people in WEIGHT LOSS MODE, it can be problematic --- very problematic. This is particularly true of those who are really struggling with BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION (including HYPOGLYCEMIA) and / or SUGAR / CARB ADDICTIONS. Give these people a taste of SUGAR / STARCH, and they become s stark-raving lunatic in search of their next fix (also true of those individuals who have Gluto-morphin or Caseio-morphin addictions to the fragments of Gluten or Milk protein that binds to morphine receptors --- HERE).
However, if you are eating a Paleo Diet because you have figured out that you are Gluten Sensitive (or sensitive to other foods or food additives such as dairy, MSG, nitrates / nitrites, etc), cheating can be a huge deal ---- particularly during the first month (the "Elimination" phase). The whole purpose of the Elimination Phase is to calm your Immune System down by totally removing reactive foods from your diet. If you cheat during this period, not only will you lose perspective concerning where you really are in the process; if you do fire off a reaction, it will likely take anywhere from 2-5 days for your Immune System to settle down and purge the Antibodies / Inflammation out of your system. In other words, breaking down and eating that bagel on day 12 probably threw a huge wrench in the machine.
YOU CAN DO THIS!
I've known Wendy for several years, and her husband Steve even longer than that. When Steve was complaining about CHRONIC GOUT earlier in the year, I suggested he read "It Starts With Food". He got the E-version for his Kindle (ten bucks), changed his diet, and soon began to see some amazing changes not only in his gout, but in his overall health. Getting Wendy to buy in was a bit tougher. But after reading the book, she wanted to give it a whirl herself. Determined to do it the right way, once she was in, she was all in.
When people ask me what the best form of exercise is, I always tell them that the most critical thing that you can do exercise-wise, is to eat properly. In other words, the foods you consume are infinitely more important that YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what "properly" really means when it comes to diet.
Wendy had been trying to loose a few pounds and get in shape for a number of years --- and in some ways had made some progress. But the harsh reality was, she had been literally killing herself (both physically and time-wise) with a wide variety of exercise, including Zumba, with little to show for it, considering the time, effort, energy, and money she was pouring in. Via following a strict Paleo Diet, Wendy turned the corner. Not only has she lost those extra pounds (mostly in the BELLY), she has licked some life-long health problems ---- in just a few short months. Listen as Wendy describes some of the changes that going Paleo has made in her life. Thanks a ton Wendy. You and Steve are knocking it out of the park ---- way out of the park! I promise that lives will be changed because of this video.
WHAT ABOUT CHEAT DAYS?
Tim Ferris, along with numerous others, tells people that they need to follow their diet strictly for 6 days and reserve the 7th day as a cheat day. Others will tell you that it is OK to have one "cheat meal" per week. Some will even say that this "cheating" can be an all out binge ---- just as long as you go back to your healthy way of eating the next meal or the next day ---- which ever way you personally choose to cheat. While this might appear to work OK for some people, there are some inherent problems with regular cheat days.
- THE FOODS PEOPLE DECIDE TO CHEAT WITH ARE USUALLY TERRIBLE: I have been eating LOW CARB for the better part of the past two decades. It is the only way of eating that I can maintain my weight and energy on; not to mention it helps keep MY CHRONIC PAIN LEVEL to almost zero. But I would be lying to you if I told you that I never cheated. Although I stay on the wagon far better than I used to, I still fall off at times. However, I believe that the foods you chose to cheat with are critical to your health and the success of your ability to permanently follow a healthy way of eating. One of the foods that I recommend people go out of their way to avoid on cheat days is Trans Fats. For instance, TRANS FATS have a half-life of around 2 months. This means that the box of Oreos that you wolfed down yesterday, will be staying with you (your cell membranes, hopefully not in the form of TYPE II DIABETES) for much longer than your next couple of trips to the bathroom. Be smart about what you cheat with.
- THEY CAUSE SETBACKS IN THE FORM OF NEUROLOGICAL REACTIONS: Let's say for a moment, that you are eating a PALEO-TYPE DIET because you figured out you are sensitive to Gluten and / or Dairy. Although you may not have debilitating symptoms like some do, you know that when you eat these foods, you feel terrible. Just remember, that for the truly sensitive, it takes as little as 20 parts per billion to set off a reaction. Furthermore, with many potentially-reactive foods (including Gluten), the majority of the symptoms (at least 60%) are NEUROLOGICAL IN NATURE. In other words, many people do not associate things like NEUROPATHY or PARKINSON'S, with Gluten, even though there is a strong relationship to both. To see why cheating can totally undermine certain people's ability to get healthy or lose weight, just GO HERE.
- ADDICTIONS: Not only are lots of people addicted to sugar and high glycemic index starches (HERE), they are often addicted to foods they are sensitive to. Much of this has to do with the "rush" they get from their Adrenal Glands. Although there are many consequences to this, one of the most common is FIBROMYALGIA / ADRENAL FATIGUE. The SUGAR ADDICTIONS, which subsided once you started eating properly, will come raging back every time you break down and choose to fuel them. As a 'dry' sugar / carb addict myself, if you are going to cheat, you have to be very careful to stay on the wagon, because when you do fall off it can get ugly. You have to ask yourself if eating a package of Pop Tarts is worth the several days of intense cravings it is going to ignite. I realize that some of you can eat one bite of mom's chocolate cake and be done with it. But for most people (self included), this would be the equivalent of said alcoholic telling himself he is just going to have one tiny sip of bourbon.
- INFLAMMATION: Everything (all sickness, CHRONIC PAIN, and disease) is INFLAMMATION. In other words, all health problems and disease processes boil down to the amount of Inflammation you have coursing through your body. Is a regular "cheat day" (binge) worth driving Inflammation --- especially when you are doing so well with both your weight and your health? I know from personal experience that many (if not most) of the foods that people tend to cheat with are highly inflammatory. With some people, this inflammation triggers Autoimmune Reactions and other crazy symptoms. Although it is undoubtedly delicious, Autoimmunity is probably not worth that piece of mom's chocolate cake --- no matter how good it tastes.
- YOU BECOME ADDICTED TO CHEAT DAY: I have seen people who literally revolve their lives around their cheat day. Honestly, this is no way to live. You should control what you eat, not the other way around.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO CHEAT (SOONER OR LATER WE
ALL DO) CHEAT ON YOUR OWN TERMS
Falling off the wagon is something that is going to happen from time to time, and for most of us, it's not the end of the world. But if you are going to purposely cheat, plan how, where, and why. Or better yet; treat yourself to something besides food. How about a massage or CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT? There are numerous things that can be done to treat yourself that do not involve overeating or junking out. And if you've never done it before, make sure to do an ELIMINATION DIET.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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Death By Medicine
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