Monday, March 17, 2014

Cheat Days and Other Such Nonsense

I'm going to let you in on a secret I learned a long time ago (ok, maybe I'm still trying to learn it):

FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY.

I've recently entered several conversations about "cheat days" and "cheat meals," and I wanted to address it here because I feel it's so very important. From merriam-webster.com/dictionary:

1cheat

 verb \ˈchēt\
: to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
: to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
: to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get
I hate the whole concept of a cheat day because of what it implies. Basically, the concept says, "My everyday eating plan is so horrendous that I can't wait to escape and be bad." With that kind of mentality, it's very easy to go overboard: 


"But wait!" you say. "I just eat a cheat meal." Same concept. You're counting the meals until that one. Forcing yourself through the drudgery until you reached that blessed moment of luxury, that holy grail-- your cheat meal. 

Please, don't misunderstand me. I don't expect you to eat perfectly clean 100% of the time. I'm just asking that you not be overly concerned (obsessed?) with your escape from clean eating. I just ask that you stop thinking of your voyage into the less healthy as a cheat. 

Maybe your "cheat" meal is specifically timed so that you don't go overboard all the time. Ok, I get it. But still, I think the root of the problem is viewing food as the enemy. You should enjoy food. The problem is, in America, we have lost our taste for real food. I blame Pop-Tarts. From an early age we get a taste of that deliciousness and there seems to be no turning back. Pop-Tarts aren't real food. And neither is most of the overly processed, bagged and boxed garbage that we find on the shelves of our grocery stores. 

People! Eat real food. It's delicious. There will be an adjustment period as your body learns to discover what natural food should taste like, but you will find you have more energy, sleep better, and think more clearly. 

And since I'm on my soapbox, can I just also say... 
STOP WITH THE CLEANSES, ALREADY! 
And...
STOP WITH THE SUPER EXPENSIVE MIRACLE DIET/CURE PACKAGED PRODUCTS!
Can we just...
EAT REAL FOOD!

Ok, I will stop shouting now. Just in case you are curious and my rambling has made little to no sense... I'll give you a typical day of eating for me:

Breakfast: Whole oats (just under 1/2 cup) + a few blueberries (or 1/4 of a banana or a spoon of pumpkin-- just enough to give a little flavor) + whey protein (about 15 g worth). Coffee w/ soy milk creamer.

Snack: small handful of almonds or cashews (I've been experimenting with a higher fat percentage in my diet, so cashews have been added. However these are dangerous-- I can easily put away several servings at once.)

Lunch: Sweet potato (about 1 cup), steak or chicken (1/2 to 1 cup)

Snack: Apple and almond butter or peanut butter (no sugar, no oil added) + 1/4 scoop of vanilla whey. Green tea (or coffee on those "I need more caffeine" days.)

Pre-workout: BCAA's + beta alanine

Post workout: Creatine complex (Both pre- and post- workout supplements are recent additions due to my high volume training. At lower volume I am fine with a post workout whey + water shake.)

Dinner: Large spinach/kale salad w/ bacon or walnuts and vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing (1/2 serving), steak (or chicken or omelet w/ spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes) (I add 1/2 white potato occasionally if my cardio is especially high or I feel my calories have been too low.)

Wednesday is pizza night-- it's a great break in the middle of the week-- family dinner in front of the t.v. night. 

Saturday or Sunday is our day to eat out. A typical meal out for me-- large salad with grilled chicken. I skip the appetizers, unless it's a Mexican restaurant-- I will totally eat some chips and salsa. But I stick to ordering the same type of food I usually eat-- it just makes me feel better. Physically. I avoid dairy and wheat (except on Pizza night, and even then I watch it). But IT'S ABOUT FEELING GOOD. If I eat crap, I feel like crap-- bloated, grouchy, upset stomach. Who needs that?

Ok. Officially stepping off the soapbox. Thanks for putting up with me!

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