The Paleo diet is ridiculously hard and if you’re gung-ho about losing weight, getting healthy, healing your mitochondria, helping chronic illness, or gaining muscle mass, you might be eating paleo to a tee. When I got sick and learned about the ketogenic diet, I stuck to it like it was some kind of holy text and I am so happy I did. However, after you’ve been on the Paleo diet for awhile, as I learned from my best friend’s parents prior, sometimes every now and then you just want to cheat.
About 7 months into my paleo/keto journey, I was so sick of eating dark veggies, organic meats, full-fat coconut milk, and green smoothies. I just wanted a pizza. I wanted a whole goddamn pizza and I didn’t care who knew it. My best friend’s parents (who I should maybe call friends? Family? at this point) had gone paleo about a year before I had and went so far as cutting out some items I would consider extreme.
They were sick of duck eggs. They were ready to eat something else and they confessed to me that they had pizza at a friend’s house. Later, I saw pasta on their kitchen table. I gasped and called them out on it: How dare you? These people were my mentors and I should know by now that mentors should not be placed on a pedestal.
My friend’s dad admitted that he never felt good after cheating; it made him feel terrible afterwards. These friends had changed their diets for disease-fighting reasons: namely, cancer and heart problems. Their diets made them feel amazing, let them go off some medications, and after a few months of solid cheating, they “claim” they are “back on the wagon.” Okay.
So I ate some pizza too. In fact, just yesterday I ate lasagna. Fuck it. I am a human who sometimes needs to fall back on what she used to know and love. I ate blue cheese once in May and I also ate so many Girl Scout Tagalongs that I should be ashamed of myself. Strangely, cheating pushed me even further to stick to my diet just like my diet mentors.
Why? Because eating preservative- and gluten-filled crap made me feel like crap. After eating that blue cheese, I had such a bad stomachache that I needed to use a heating pad and eat bentonite clay before bed. After eating a tagalong, I would get a headache. After eating anything with gluten (including those beautiful tagalongs), my depression would come back. Even though I didn’t link my ailments to my diet before starting my diet, I knew now that this is why I felt the way I felt. What I ate really did determine my health and quality of life. My body rejected that crap faster than it had ever rejected it in my life. Blue cheese never made me ill before!
I have a team of paleo-fighters that hardcore diet alongside me and we all make “mistakes.” I was so clean for my first seven months, but now, I allow myself to cheat every now and then. In a way, I would consider it healthy. Cheating doesn’t make a significant impact on your health if you only do it every now and then, but it will if you eat like that all the time (like many of us used to – seriously, I used to have a bagel nearly every morning for breakfast and a quesadilla for dinner). Your body will let you know that it’s unhappy and you can ask your diet-hardy friends: they have the same experiences.
So, if you feel like cheating, I say do it. Your body won’t thank you.
Want to write for The Barefoot Aya? We are currently accepting submissions for guest posts about mental health. Submit a post to firstname.lastname@example.org. Not all posts will be accepted and all will be critiqued/edited/etc. Submit with caution (and enthusiasm!).