A Cheat Day: Should You Schedule One?
- Mel’s weekly food pick:
Organic, Unrefined Coconut Sugar
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Balls
EXCITING NEWS! In celebration of my new book, tomorrow (11/30) I will be announcing a fun holiday challenge to help you take back control of your food AND have a chance to win one of five signed copies of Missing Peace! One lucky winner will also have the opportunity to come grocery shopping with me (northeast Ohio only) and learn how to stock a kitchen with all of the healthy essentials. Complete grocery list and meal ideas will be included (A $400 value). Stay tuned… 🙂
Maybe you’ve heard of it…the cheat day. The single day of the week when you allow yourself to eat anything you want, especially those foods you’ve outlawed the other six days.
Should you do it?
Is it an effective way to squash your food cravings? Well duh! Of course it’s effective; but is it smart?
Here’s how I see it: desiring foods like French fries, potato chips, and chocolate chip cookies, is part of being human. So theoretically, when you implement the cheat day policy, you are really expecting yourself to inhabit an alien-form with freakish willpower (i.e. non-human) for six days and then quickly drop into human-form on the cheat day.
The problem is—yes, you guessed it—you are human 24-7, and it’s not so easy to jump back into your martian body the next day. In fact, your human body will most likely retaliate with blood sugar dips, brain fog, digestive upset, and sluggish energy…and I guarantee you will throw in the towel and decide being a human is much more fun than an alien.
Human beings are imperfect.
I refer to our species as perfectly imperfect…and I mean it! In fact, in my new book, Missing Peace #7 is rightfully titled: Imperfection Is Perfection.
It’s such a lovely thing, isn’t it? To realize that we should be embracing our imperfections on a daily (yes daily) basis, is like receiving a permission slip to be human.
Embracing your humanness means you should deliberately schedule imperfection into your day; build it into the catalog of foods you regularly eat. This simple, intentional act allows you to live peacefully amongst imperfect foods instead of fighting them off with guns a blazing!
So essentially what I am asking you to do, is make every day a cheat day.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, I make room for imperfect foods every day, usually in the form of cheese and chips. Martinis are built in less often (maybe once or twice a week) and donuts maybe once or twice a year. But remember, it took me quite awhile to train my taste buds to prefer less sugar and processed foods. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. And the only reason it happened at all, is because I didn’t forbid myself of ANYTHING; I simply chose to eat smarter.
Here’s how to make this “every day-is-a-cheat-day” policy work for you:
Imagine your daily food intake as a pie (not that kind of pie…think pie chart 🙂 ). A portion of this pie should be reserved for imperfection, a representation of our perfectly imperfect human nature (the burgundy pie slice in the image below). So really, we should consider redefining what it means to be a perfect eater. Don’t you agree?
Are you with me so far?
I don’t count calories, measure sugar grams, track carbs or any other unnatural, tedious nonsense like that. I eat well and invite perfectly imperfect foods into my day. Most weeks it averages to be about 80-20 (20% perfectly imperfect), but some weeks it’s 90-10 and others 60-40 (i.e. holiday time!)
To give you an idea, here’s what my 60-40 Thanksgiving day looked like. Keep in mind, the 40% perfectly imperfect foods (PIF) came in at dinner:
Breakfast: two-egg veggie omelet (onions, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms) cooked in coconut oil with a side of fresh berries
Lunch: Peace of Health shake made with avocado, lacinato kale, baby carrots, hemp protein powder, cinnamon, frozen berries, fresh ginger root
Thanksgiving dinner (includes appetizers): A few cubes of cheese (PIF); two BIG glasses of wine (PIF); raw veggies and olives; turkey; sweet potatoes; cranberry sauce made with real sugar (PIF); roasted Brussels sprouts; green beans; two No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Balls (PIF)
In order for this brilliant new paradigm to work for you (and not backfire), keep these three rules in mind:
- Rule #1: Do NOT measure your perfectly imperfect food.
Yes, I know this goes against everything the diet books taught you. Listen, I don’t measure cheese, chips or anything else for that matter because I trust myself to do what’s best for ME.
Furthermore, measuring is just too damn diet-like. I did that for three years while journeying through binge eating disorder and every time I measured, I would think about wanting more than what I dished out. Inevitably I’d always wind up back at the pantry to retrieve the bag of chips. Not only is it human nature to want what you can’t have, but also to want more than what the diet-imposed limit allows you to have.
INSTEAD: Dish a reasonable portion of your perfectly imperfect food into a small bowl or cup. Whatever you do, do NOT eat it straight out of the bag/box/container. We have a tendency to eat until we get to the bottom of the container, so if the “container” is an entire bag of chips or carton of ice cream…guess what?!
PS: Here’s what I do with chips, otherwise I will eat the entire bag!
- Rule #2: If it makes sense (and you don’t secretly feel cheated), upgrade your perfectly imperfect food.
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to turn it into a health food. Just treat it to a little nutritional upgrade. For example: choose non-GMO potato chips cooked in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil; upgrade your favorite dessert recipe by using lower glycemic sweeteners (I’m not talking artificial sweeteners here)—that’s what I did on Thanksgiving! See this week’s recipe pick for No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Balls.
Over time, you may very well end up preferring the upgraded version to the original.
- Rule #3: Really taste and enjoy your perfectly imperfect food…without an ounce of guilt.
Guilt is a useless emotion. If you plan on laying a big fat guilt trip on yourself with every bite of perfectly imperfect food, you’re totally missing the point. Save yourself the trip…don’t even bother eating it.
So go ahead and give yourself permission to make every day a cheat day. A word of warning: don’t be surprised when you run across a day or two where you eat no PIFs. Even though you made plenty of room for them…some days you simply won’t want any.
Mel’s weekly food pick:
Organic, Unrefined Coconut Sugar
Made from the coconut blossoms of the coconut tree, coconut sugar is a natural sweetener with a flavor similar to brown sugar.
I wouldn’t go calling it a “health” food, but just like raw honey and pure maple syrup, coconut sugar is a more suitable alternative to white table sugar.
For starters, it offers trace elements such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants, in greater quantities than that of regular sugar. Second, unlike the white stuff, coconut sugar contains inulin, a fiber that is good for growing beneficial gut bacteria. Inulin also slows the absorption of glucose, therefore making it a more reasonable solution for diabetics and those making a conscious effort to manage their blood sugar.
Let me be clear on something. If you are diligently working to eliminate or reduce added sugar in your diet, don’t go adding coconut sugar because you think it’s good for you. It’s not a health food, but rather an upgrade from white sugar.
In other words, use coconut sugar like you would white sugar…sparingly. Check out this week’s recipe pick below for No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Balls. They are rolled in a dusting of coconut sugar at the very end, making for a sweet (but not too sweet) treat.
PS: Coconut sugar is a 1:1 replacement for white sugar.
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Balls
DON’T FORGET! Tomorrow (11/30) I will be announcing a fun holiday challenge to help you take back control of your food AND have a chance to win a copy of my new book Missing Peace! Stay tuned…