Sometimes we need a day off. A day where we get to FEEL “normal”, rebel, relax, and let our hair down. We want to be “bad”, sit on the couch with the remote control, getting sucked into a “show hole” and to say “to the hell with the world” while we eat snacks and lay like broccoli while catching up with the latest season of Game Of Thrones for an entire Day.
But what about your goals? Won’t this derail your progress? Won’t this undo all your hard work? Well, that depends… you see there are a lot of ifs, ands, or buts in this. Either way, there may be a version of what is referred to the 90/10 method that works for your body and your goals. the 90/10 method is where you eat like an angel 90% of the time and 10% of the time you get to be a little “bad”. But this isnt for everyone and you also don’t want to undo all your hard work that you put in the other 90% of the time. So let’s look at for whom this way of “cheating” (as opposed to way of eating) may work with their goals and for whom it is NOT beneficial. After we decide if you are a person who can afford to let loose for an evening or not, then we can talk about what these cheat meals should and should can include (and DON’T include) and about the ramifications of cheating and cheating gone too far.
So if you are a candidate for the 90/10 method then it is possible for you to have your cake and eat it too, although it may need to be a grain free, refined sugar free cake. But first let me say this: there are people who can “cheat” and still reach their goals and those who can’t. Please remember: I am not a doctor and more importantly, I am not YOUR doctor. I cannot determine what is a good choice or a bad choice for you and your body. That is between you and your doctor. So if your doctor has you on a special diet, talk to him or her about the ideas the 90/10 way of eating before you implement anything that I recommend. Ever.
Now that we have that is out of the way, let’s look at who may be a candidate for the 90/10 method and who is NOT a candidate.
Let’s take a look at the facts. First: If you have just begun a new way of eating this article is not for you. Shut down the computer, read another article, walk away, go do some yoga and do not veer from your new commitment. Instead, remember why you began this in the first place. What were your goals? (I thought I just told you to walk away?) What did you hope to gain from this change and . Second: If you are on a temporary program such as a fast, a 21 or 30 day commitment, a candida cleanse or if any of my versions of “cheating” are going to interrupt a new way of eating, nutritional learning curve, break a commitment or harm your health, walk away. Third: Let’s set some ground rules so that we don’t undo months of hard work in one night.
Ground Rules: The rules for a completely healthy individual are different for someone who is dealing with chronic illness or is trying to prevent a disease or heal from one. If you are completely healthy then setting ground rules gets extra points for taking an interest in your health. So how healthy are you really? If you have any suspicion that you may or may not have leaky gut then consequences of some food choices have bigger ramifications than others. For example, if you have digestive orders, autoimmune, diabetes, a genetic risk of alzheimer’s or cancer, chronic infections, malabsorption of nutrients, vitamin deficiencies, food sensitivities or allergies, chronic illness of ANY kind or a suppressed immune system, then more often than not, you may have leaky gut. Even if you have healed your gut with a complete gut healing protocol then some things should be forever off limits. This means these are NEVER foods. The short list of these would be gluten, corn, soy and any gmo or pesticide heavy foods. Pesticide heavy food includes fatty conventionally raised meats and meat products because the pesticides store in the fat and bones and can destroy your gut microbiome. So rule number one for you guys and gals: NO gluten, corn, soy, gmo’s or heavy sources of pesticides. For more information on foods that have more or less pesticides than others click here for the EWG’s list of The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen. Rule number two: No allergens or trigger foods. No eliminated foods either. If you are off nightshades then stay off nightshades. This is supposed to be a fun thing not a 6 months of paying for it thing. Rule number 3: Don’t move there. One meal may be something you can get away with. You may be able to get away with more but if you go too far, you are NOT going to feel good. Your body NEEDS nutrition and eating too much junk and not enough vegetables is not going to give your body what you need to thrive. So beware: This is a vacation to the land of loosey goosey not a move to Junkfoodville. Rule number four: It’s called 90/10 not 50/50. So let’s do the math. One meal messes up the entire day as far as getting enough veggies. I allege this because you are going to use the room in your stomach for your “fun” meal instead of a large plate of vegetables. You will not have room for the rest of the day’s vegetables. I’m not going to advise to eat brownies for an entire day or ham sandwiches only even if they are made grain free, sugar free. So out of a month of 30 days, ten percent would be 3 days. Don’t mess up your nutritional intake for more than 3 days a month. Interrupting your nutrition for more than 3 days is no longer 90/10 and the more time you take away from moving towards your goals the longer it is going to take to get to your goals. Do you really want to put it off any longer?
So now that we have some ground rules set, let’s talk about what we CAN eat. Depending on your individual goals and consequences you have a choice of sweet or savory treats. My cheats usually mean too much of an allowed food and not enough servings of vegetables for that day. If I am too lazy to cook then I will eat too many fruits (this is not for everyone and comes with the consequences of blood sugar spikes. This may cause inflammation, mood swings and if done often it will increase your risk of disease by having elevated blood sugar for extended periods of time). On the best days of cheating, it means too many of my favorite vegetables and not enough sulphurous veggies (this refers to The Wahl’s Protocol’s division of vegetables into 3 categories of Colored, Sulphurous, and Leafy Greens. For more information click here). Some of my favorite “cheat meals” include Wings for Dinner, Low Carb High Protein Brownies (Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free), Plantain Chip Nachos, Paleo Fish and Chips (using arrowroot for the breading and parsnips for the fries) or an H’orderve plate made with veggie or plantain chips, fruit, nuts (AIP reintro), homemade beef jerky or leftover meat (you could also add artichoke hearts, eggs if you tolerate them well- an AIP reintro- or other aip approved “snacks” that you think go well together) and a mocktail in a pretty glass (i love a wine glass since I can’t have wine but even a mocktail may spike your blood sugar so don’t go overboard). If you do choose to have alcohol (this would be a reintroduction on AIP and not recommeded) then limit the amount and frequency as any alcohol, including gluten free and yeast free alcohol, is not good for gut health and may damage the gut, undoing your hard work. It is my suggestion to avoid if you have any suspicion or history toward leaky gut.
I hope this helps. If you are like me then every now and then you get a bit burnt out on veggies, loose your desire to eat and if you aren’t allowed to rebel then you would prefer to just not eat at all (A little dramatic, I admit.. c’est la vie…). For those of us who are “foodies” it’s an opportunity to get creative and try to make a healthier version of our favorite foods from our past life so we can enjoy eating similar to how we used to enjoy it. But no matter how you spend that 10% of the time.. do it wisely. You have worked too hard to get here and don’t want to undo it in one Friday night as you binge watch and cuddle on the couch. As always, To Your Health!