Almost everyone cheats. With food at least, that is. No matter who you are or what your goals are, you’ve cheated. Whether cheating for you means a little dairy in your coffee or maybe a huge slice of watermelon, or it means a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and an entire pizza plus fried mac n’cheese bites from Paisanos, that’s a different story. Dealing with these cheats is what is important and what can make or break your long-term commitment to eating a clean diet. It’s easy to have a cheat day or weekend, and then fall into a cheat month, or a cheat 3 months. Don’t let that happen to you.
The below post is actually from my website, www.paleomadeline.com, that I initially wrote after the 4th of July (my personal ULTIMATE cheat holiday), but I thought with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays right around the corner, it was probably time to share the symptoms of “Faileo” and how to deal with the aftermath of a cheat with the rest of the gym.
I figured the 5th of July was probably a pretty good time to write a post about recovering from “FAILEO” – a disease that sweeps the nation around major partying holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, etc), break-ups, good weather, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathons. You have “faileo” if: (1) you forgot what DLG stands for, (2) you just ate ice cream for breakfast, (3) you blacked out and don’t know where the rest of your Baked Lays went, (4) you can’t stop salivating even though you had no fewer than 4 pizzas this weekend.
Unfortunately, you also know you have “faileo” if (1) you’re not sleeping well at night because sugar and alcohol are pulsating through your bloodstream, (2) you can’t even consider going to the gym due to your lack of energy and crankiness, (3) your fat jeans won’t zip, let alone button, (4) you have a pounding headache that no amount of advil seems to be curing.
So, you cheated. Maybe you cheated all weekend (cough, me). That’s OK! We all cheat sometimes. You’re not the worst ever, you’re not a paleo failure, you haven’t reversed all of your hard work. It’s part of life — the worst thing you can do is keep hitting yourself over the head about it. Mentally move past it and let’s talk about how to flip that “Faileo” back to Paleo. (I know a million of you just rolled your eyes, but give me a break, I’m hungover).
After doing some research about how long gluten stays in your system, the consensus seems to be 14-15 days, although obviously everyone is going to be a little different. This does NOT necessarily mean you will feel like crap for two weeks. But you probably do have a rough couple days ahead of you. Here’s what you should do after suffering from an epic “Faileo” to get back on track.
RULE #1: THROW IT OUT - Take five minutes and throw all out the remnants of the cheat in your house. Throw out the leftover pizza, ice cream and Cool Ranch Doritos. Just because you cheated with these foods yesterday does not mean you “have to” polish them off today. Get rid of it.
RULE #2: WATER WATER WATER – Drink about double the amount of water you would on an average day. We all know that alcohol especially dehydrates you, but so does sodium in all those shitty foods you ate. By drinking a ton of water, you’ll begin to flush your body out, get rid of that dehydration headache, and re-set your body to drink water instead of Coors Light.
RULE #3: FISH OIL – See my past post for why fish oil is basically sent down to us by little paleo angels. Fish oil will protect your body and reduce all of the inflammation that the gluten is doing to your gut. By simply taking some fish oil (or increasing your dosage slightly for a few days if you already do), your “faileo” symptoms will decrease.
RULE #4: START WITH ONE MEAL - Get yourself one strict paleo meal, and just focus on one instead of freaking out about how badly you screwed up. A heavy protein (chicken, beef, bison, etc) and a huge kale salad with olive oil drizzled over the top. Three eggs with a 1/4lb of bacon. A veggie and chicken stir fry. Anything. Just start with one, then you can keep filling in the blanks.
Okay, so you took the first steps. You threw out the crap, drank a liter of water, took some fish oil and got a decent meal in you. But Ash, I followed the rules, and now all I want is ice cream and a Root Beer. That’s because the lectins from the gluten are crawling and squiggling around in your small intestine and sending signals to your brain that say MOOOORREE GLUTTTEEENNNN. Don’t let them win.
RULE #5: LETS TRICK YOUR BRAIN. Here’s some easy substitutes for your favorite cheats that can get you back on the paleo track.
If you’re craving a soda or a beer/glass of wine/cocktail: Try grabbing a flavored carbonated water. I like lemon, lime, grapefruit and even mint. It’s a refreshing, nice taste that is more enticing than regular water, and also gives you a mental cue that you’re having a little fancy drink (although it’s just water).
If you’re craving chips/crackers/Goldfish/Wheat Thins:Make my sweet potato chips and dip recipe, or whip up a batch of kale chips. On the fly and don’t have time? Grab a bag of pre-made kale chips. Grab a bag of coconut chips.
If you’re craving pizza: Try this really easy recipe for Portobello Pizzas. Or again, if you’re on the fly and don’t have time, try this easy fix: scramble two eggs in the microwave, top with some gluten-free marinara sauce and fresh basil. Voila, pizza flavors at your desk.
If you’re craving ice cream/pie/cookies/cupcakes: Obviously you can make paleo versions of all of these things, but for a quick fix take some fresh fruit and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of honey over the top. If you’re really struggling, grab a piece of dark chocolate (70% cacao) and grate over the top as well.
So now we have some quick fixes that will allow us to trick our brain and get some nutrients back in our bloodstream.
Last but not least:
RULE #6: DISTRACT AND RE-SET. Distract yourself. Rather than sitting around being hungover and miserable and thinking about what a Faileo you are and how you’ll never be skinny or how you’ll never be able to power clean your body weight again, go do something. If you feel like shit, go for a walk. Play with your dog or kids. Knit a sweater. Spend 20 solid minutes stretching out every muscle in your body. Get back in the gym and just start with something light and easy.
How long will I feel this way?To be honest, everyone is DIFFERENT. I know some people that will feel nauseous and sad after eating gluten for days, and some people that are peppy and ready to go the next day. Personally, I think there is a 3-4 day commitment you have to make to getting yourself back on track. After about 2 days of strict paleo and sleeping/getting back in the gym, you should start to feel better. The cravings will subside and you’ll be back to craving kale and steak. Just mentally stick with it and think, “By Friday I should be feeling back to my old self.”
Here are some more amazing resources about recovering from cheats:
I know you guys can do it…and by “you guys” I obviously am giving myself a pep-talk since my diet for the weekend pretty much subsisted of red wine, muffins, sourdough bread and chips.
I’m planning to do a big cooking sesh tonight so I have paleo meals all ready for when I feel like continuing my binge…which means new recipes to come soon!
RECIPE OF THE WEEK FROM PALEOMADELINE.COM
This recipe was actually the brainchild of Gus Garcia, Linds Lueken and myself, originally adapted from the Everyday Paleo cookbook. It is a quick recipe that you can make in bulk for the entire week! Enjoy
Workout of the Day 10/13/2011
A. Bergener Warm-Up
B. Muscle Snatch/Snatch Balance (depending on flexibility)
C. Snatch Complex (will be modified based on flexibility and skill):
Work up to a heavy weight with good form
Junk Yard Dog
A. Romanian Deadlift w/barbells
B. Mini Murph
50 Pull Ups (or Ring Rows)
80 Push Ups
Tip – Break up exercises: 10 sets of 5 pull ups (ring rows); 8 push ups; 10 squats