3

votes

Open Meals (what some of you call cheat meals)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 12, 2011 at 3:14 PM

The Paleo Diet and other plans involve a few flex meals each week. I hate the term cheat meal, but I guess that's a personal bias. Anyway, Here's my question:

Among those who do an 80-85% compliance thing do you see better results (look, feel, perform, whatever your goals are) spreading out your non-compliant meals through the week or cramming them all into one day?

Thanks for any insights!

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on January 07, 2012
at 05:53 AM

This cheat business comes from being conditioned by our society to view food as an addictive vice to be resisted, lest we become gluttonous and obese. I believe this stems primarily from our transition from subsistence to relative affluence, compared to how most of the world's people eat. We experience guilt over the degree to which we can thoughtlessly indulge, but we do it anyway. I highly doubt that most of the world's population experiences this emotion about food. They're just hungry. It's a part of our unique food culture. The guilt is perverse because for most it's an ineffective tool.

03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

(2007)

on March 28, 2011
at 04:33 AM

I was in Chicago the other week and was momentarily tempted to do a deep dish pizza cheat... abandoned that idea but randomly came across a deep dish place that offered a wheat free, MEAT CRUST MADE OF SAUSAGE! Heaven. So there's an option :)

9aa2a816c61170cc0183a68be0386ba5

(1702)

on March 28, 2011
at 03:21 AM

This probably wouldn't happen to someone who cuts the rules on a regular basis, though - I'm sure this is because you were super strict and your body is reacting because it no longer knows how to deal with the poison of the regular american diet. My boyfriend just suggested when we both hit our goal weights to go out and get a huge deep dish pizza. I think that's a HORRIBLE idea, because it will HURT.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on February 15, 2011
at 12:18 PM

I was gluten-free before I tried paleo - I never eat gluten on purpose.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:45 AM

This is true, everytime people get glutened...especially the really sensitive it takes days or even a week for the symptoms and gut to heal.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:35 AM

I'm not *recommending* bread as a cheat to anyone. I'm merely saying that is what *I* have as a cheat.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:30 AM

That's how I feel about "open meals"...they just aren't worth it.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:28 AM

It's not the *gluten* that bothers me...its the *carbs*. Bread is very high in carbohydrates, but I love it, so I allow myself a thin slice about once a week or less.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:16 AM

i would not recommend this as a cheat because the effects of gluten need more than a week to go away. some people are more sensitive than others though...

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on February 13, 2011
at 02:21 AM

Eatin' ain't cheatin' :)

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on February 12, 2011
at 08:39 PM

I also dislike the term "cheat meal", and "cheat" in general. I also agree it implies one is "breaking some sort of promise or equates my food choices to being married". I prefer people who just DO Paleo to whatever degree they are happy with, and who do not need to label it. I also do not think Paleo is something you "transgress" from - if you want to eat it EAT IT. I am also sure that many people (me included) are indeed addicted to wheat and gluten. This only means we have to deal with it differently than those who are not addicted - each in their own way.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 12, 2011
at 07:38 PM

Gluten once a week sounds like a bad idea, even if it's just one slice of bread. Avoiding gluten is all-or-nothing. Whether the damage is silent or symptoms obvious, it must be avoided IMO.

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on February 12, 2011
at 06:41 PM

Just wanted to chime in on the "cheat meal" term. I hate it too for some reason. Maybe because it implies that I'm breaking some sort of promise or equates my food choices to being married. I wish we'd call it something else.

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19 Answers

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5
5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on February 13, 2011
at 01:48 AM

It's what I do on a regular basis that has more impact, for good or for worse.

So, even for an "open" meal, I prefer to limit it to a very small window (say, one meal once in a while) rather than a little snack here and there. The body should be able to heal itself, if you give it the time and the tools (in this case, daily good nutrition), but it becomes more difficult if you keep subjecting it to toxic or damaging foods, even in small quantities.

Another reason to avoid small frequent cheats is that they tend to reinforce or even create the eating patterns that you want to avoid.

4
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on February 12, 2011
at 11:48 PM

Personally, I found that going off plan for an entire day, usually resulting in losing the entire weekend and made getting back on plan even harder.

I finally learned I had to really only allow myself one meal or treat at a time that wasn't what I would normally eat. I track my food, so I work it into the day in a way that doesn't throw off my normal calories or fat/protein/carb ratios too badly.

I also had to learn to take the unplanned moments of off plan eating and not allow them to turn into excuses to eat badly the rest of the day.

It was a mental thing for me way more than a nutritional thing.

1
5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on February 15, 2011
at 04:07 AM

I just can't wrap my head around the concept of "cheating". Who am I cheating on, myself. I have been grain and gluten free now for so long that eating any is anathema to me. Gluten in particular is problematic in that there is no such thing as just having a little bit every now and again. Even a small amount can cause leaky gut and takes a long time to heal. You will never recover if you continue to have it in any amount at all. A while ago I learnt my lesson while travelling and had a service station salad with a salmon patty. Don't know what it contained but salmon was a minor constituent. The long and short was that I spent the next hour in great discomfort on the toilet. Lesson learnt. Now if faced with nothing suitable to eat I simply fast. Easy. Why would you get your engine tuned and purring sweetly and efficiently and then stick some crap in the fuel tank? Not me.

1
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:17 AM

I think if you are gonna cheat, you should probably still keep it gluten free. I just think that has far reaching effects that need more time than a week to detox from.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on February 15, 2011
at 12:18 PM

I was gluten-free before I tried paleo - I never eat gluten on purpose.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:45 AM

This is true, everytime people get glutened...especially the really sensitive it takes days or even a week for the symptoms and gut to heal.

1
58cc17a77bca6e503dcf6bf6471b76a1

(478)

on February 14, 2011
at 06:50 PM

I don't have a set day to "cheat" or I should say eat non paleo food..but I'm more like to adapting to the situation. Example: friend's once a month gathering/birthday - there'll be b'day cake and it'd be rude not to have the cake and kinda stupid in some ways cause I'll be charged for the cost of the cake anyway...but at least I will order a more paleo friendly food (no grains/gluten/legume) and I know I won't be able to control the sugar but I won't sweat it.

I do have once a week meal that I can't really control to be paleo/primal, which is a dinner with the in-laws. All cooked in veg oil/soy sauce/oyster sauce/sugar etc - typical Asian dishes. I just eat beforehand so I wouldn't be too starving and just nibble around the food and skip the white rice totally. Or sometimes I just don't go.

The key of paleo/primal is not about stressing out what food to eat or not eat..but more how to pick food wisely. I do sometimes have some gluten (Asian bakery bread is hard to resist sometimes, or my homemade whole wheat bread) but it's pretty rare.

1
Daee02d4fabbf765d15ea8c1e5cf1d91

(70)

on February 14, 2011
at 12:54 AM

Occasionally, with a meal away from home, usually out with relatives, I have a taste of something that I would not normally eat. I look at these as testing, 1, to see if it effects me, and 2 what does it taste like. I consider any whole food, not sugar, grains, lubricants or manufactured eatable product to be suitable to eat or taste occasionally. Even then, there is a lot of stuff that I will just not eat because of taste, or it is just gross to me. Paleo lite if you like.

Cheat meals are a diet concept that allow one to 'fall of the wagon' so to speak. I just think that is just a 'concept', call it what you like. Planned eating of poisons, low nutrient foods, seems like a bad concept to me, but what do I know.

fredt

1
1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on February 12, 2011
at 08:32 PM

From time-to-time I will have a bit of dark chocolate(1/2 an ounce); but, very early in the morning or the caffeine in it will keep me awake (as it will if I have it two days in a row).

I do not consider chocolate paleo, and do not care if anyone else does. Some Paleo people really seem to have more than a bit of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disease); and not just about chocolate. Which is funny when they do not seem to have a problem using computers and the internet - hardly Paleo!

1
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on February 12, 2011
at 05:45 PM

I know that I feel and perform better (I figure I never look all that "good") when I am 80-85% paleo with the non-paleo "cheats" mixed in throughout the week, like the beer I have with dinner or maybe the piece of chocolate after dinner (usually 90% dark but sometimes 3 or 4 almond M&Ms). I am certainly not the best example of a strict Paleo diet follower, but I find I feel much better (and am able to better keep my sanity) when I sprinkle the cheats in than when I overwhelm my system with stuff that isn't good for me in one sitting or day.

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 12, 2011
at 04:19 PM

If I eat a bunch of crap all day, I feel sick and gross as the day progresses. So I don't often majorly cheat. Most of my cheats are somewhat paleo, like eating out and there may be a bit of sugar in the sauce on the meat or something like that. Once in a while, I may eat a bit of homemade pastry or cookie, but not often, and it has to be homemade or it's not tasty enough to be worth it. If I only cheat a bit at one meal, then I feel no obvious health effects, so if I am going to cheat, that is the way I do it.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:30 AM

That's how I feel about "open meals"...they just aren't worth it.

1
8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on February 12, 2011
at 04:00 PM

I have a single re-feed day (today, Saturday!). Although, to be fair, I am much more than 80% compliant (my only cheats are alcohol and artificial sweeteners which I indulge in all week)

So the purpose of my re-feed day is to have a day where I can eat more carbs. I'm normally under 10g carbs / day (purpose is weight loss). On my re-feed day I might go as high as 50-60.

So, not exactly the same as what you are asking but I DO find it much easier to just do an anticipated DAY rather than having to keep track of meals all week. I can't imagine anyone trying to eat non Paleo meals here and there and keep track of how many, how much, etc.

But that's just me! :) Hope that helped a bit!

0
A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on January 07, 2012
at 06:54 AM

I've found that things that used to seem utterly mundane now seem like special treats. For instance, I never thought anything at all about white rice, but now it's my go-to open meal food, and I have it at one meal at least once a week. That's a low-risk treat, too. I've been much more open to that in lieu of, say, bread or pasta, which I still enjoy, but have grown somewhat fearful of (though I don't usually notice any reaction). Before paleo, I'd never have chosen rice over pasta.

The reverse seems true as well: things that used to seem like indulgences (steak! Hollandaise! Butter!) have found their way into my quotidian diet. I think it kinda cool that my special indulgences are cheap, abundant things like rice, and corn tortillas. And booze, of course.

I don't indulge daily, nor do I typically indulge all day on any given day. I just do it when the mood strikes me. I find scheduled or routine open meals doesn't work for me. It's kinda like sex: I can't plan it, I just have to be in the mood.

0
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on January 07, 2012
at 05:15 AM

I like to do a bit of drinking and then pour chocolate syrup on my girl friend and lick it off.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 07, 2012
at 04:50 AM

I make a few beers part of my cheat meal. Cause I love my beer

0
250fa46c152f1ab93d791b63e2591594

on March 28, 2011
at 03:17 AM

I recently started on Paleo and wasn't super sure if it was having any major impact but I liked it over all and I find the theory behind it to make a lot of sense. But, even so, this weekend I went out for 3 meals with different friends and thought I'd "treat" myself to some heavily wheat and grain laden foods.

BIG mistake. Oh my God. I ate eggs benedict at 1pm today and 9 hours later I'm still suffering. I came home and immediately had horrific "stomach issues" like I have not seen since I started eating Paleo. There has been acid reflux as well. What a valuable lesson!!!

I do not see myself being tempted to do this type of "cheat" ever again. A whole wheat pancake is not a treat! I guess I didn't realize how great I felt until I sabotaged myself and spent my weekend feeling like complete crap. It also reminded me that I used to have terrible gas all the time pre-Paleo but I haven't had gas hardly at all since I started (until my big cheat).

So yeah. Not worth it. At all. If I had doubts before I definitely don't anymore, that's for sure.

03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

(2007)

on March 28, 2011
at 04:33 AM

I was in Chicago the other week and was momentarily tempted to do a deep dish pizza cheat... abandoned that idea but randomly came across a deep dish place that offered a wheat free, MEAT CRUST MADE OF SAUSAGE! Heaven. So there's an option :)

9aa2a816c61170cc0183a68be0386ba5

(1702)

on March 28, 2011
at 03:21 AM

This probably wouldn't happen to someone who cuts the rules on a regular basis, though - I'm sure this is because you were super strict and your body is reacting because it no longer knows how to deal with the poison of the regular american diet. My boyfriend just suggested when we both hit our goal weights to go out and get a huge deep dish pizza. I think that's a HORRIBLE idea, because it will HURT.

0
Fe6e37f8d4c49de1ecbc926c8900cd54

on February 13, 2011
at 01:06 AM

As a general rule, I don't do a lot of meal "flexing," as non-paleo stuff usually gives me a stomach ache. However, after a nice long afternoon at the rock-climbing gym, I usually feel okay about having something (generally a carbohydrate) I wouldn't normally eat at dinner. E.g., maybe get a white potato product along with my ribs.

So I said all that to say... I think post-workout is a great time for a flex meal.

0
9f8111d9ecaa64ea098a0860b47300e0

on February 13, 2011
at 12:49 AM

Cheat = *One Item NO* more than once a week (or less) NOT ALL DAY ! Good Luck, ~s in TN

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 12, 2011
at 07:41 PM

For me a cheat is eating something like dark chocolate or a tablespoon of honey. Maybe an organic root beer made with natural spices and real cane sugar juice(yes not healthy). I feel while although these are cheats and unhealthy, they don't even compare to cheating on something utterly deadly like glutenous grains.

0
B04e0261123c6dba2a598ff7b0d63882

on February 12, 2011
at 04:41 PM

I strive for as close to 100% compliance as I can get all the time, but do allow a flex meal once or twice a month (well, sometimes three...). I will look forward to that meal as one that I can just savor whatever it is that I have been craving without looking over my shoulder, or worrying about the scale. In this manner, I lost 60 lbs last year, and have kept steady weight for 7 months -- I'm happy.

I have done flex DAYS before, but it's more than my system can handle, apparently, and I have a LOT of discomfort if I just fill up on things that are not in the plan. ...that, and my body just knows how to store all those "extras" for a never-coming rainy day... :/

0
1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 12, 2011
at 03:57 PM

For me, a cheat is one slice of home-baked bread* with a thick layer of butter on it, which I allow myself to have maybe once a week. I don't have cheat meals though.

*I bake bread because my husband brown-bags his lunches.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 12, 2011
at 07:38 PM

Gluten once a week sounds like a bad idea, even if it's just one slice of bread. Avoiding gluten is all-or-nothing. Whether the damage is silent or symptoms obvious, it must be avoided IMO.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:35 AM

I'm not *recommending* bread as a cheat to anyone. I'm merely saying that is what *I* have as a cheat.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:28 AM

It's not the *gluten* that bothers me...its the *carbs*. Bread is very high in carbohydrates, but I love it, so I allow myself a thin slice about once a week or less.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on February 15, 2011
at 02:16 AM

i would not recommend this as a cheat because the effects of gluten need more than a week to go away. some people are more sensitive than others though...

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