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photo by tonydolor on flickr. license: attribution-noderivs


Some people do diets where they allow ‘cheat days’. For example, they might follow their diet fairly strictly for 6 days a week and then one day a week allow themselves to eat whatever they want. It could also be a month with one cheat day, or some people just allow one cheat meal per week instead of a full day.

 

 

I have never been one to follow this sort of diet because I see the way I eat as a lifestyle and not a diet. Also, I eat the way I do because I suffer from digestive issues, poor skin health, and somewhat suppressed immune system. When you are eating to support digestion, at first you cannot cheat. If you have poor digestive function the only way you can get better is to stop putting in the junk that is harming it. Eating well for a day or two just to eat junk again will only make the situation worse. For example, you have a large cut on your leg. If you were to let the cut heal for one day, and then cut it back open every other day, will it eventually heal still? Probably not, and in addition to this it will cause much more scarring and could also cause infection and other complications. It is the same with your digestive system. If you want it to heal, you must leave it alone. Bad food is what damaged your digestive system in the first place. So if you continue to damage it with poor food choices it can eventually lead to chronic inflammatory conditions and/or autoimmune diseases. That is why I try my best not to cheat. Once your digestive function begins to improve a cheat meal here or there (but definitely not on a weekly basis) is acceptable because your digestive system is now stronger and can withstand more abuse.

 

photo by joel olives on flickr. license: attribution

 

Many people see not cheating ever as unrealistic or impossible, but don’t worry, there are alternatives!

Healthy treats are the best alternative. Home made muffins, cookies, cakes, you name it; can be made with honey, coconut flour, and other wholesome, unrefined, natural ingredients. That way you are still getting lots of nutrients while enjoying your treat. Home made food is the most nutritious whether we are talking about meals or treats. Sometimes you have to get a little creative but that’s all part of the fun! I rarely ever have baking come out tasting bad, but sometimes it does happen; its a learning experience. Eating healthy treats instead of junk food might seem completely different at first, but you can, and will, get used to it. Also because you baked it yourself you’ll have lots of left overs to save for later; I always freeze some of my baking for emergency snacking.

 

banana coconut chocolate chunk muffin

 

 

But there is a down side to healthy baking. Some people become very reliant on it. Eating ‘healthy treats’ on a daily basis is not necessarily healthy. This is because even if they are sweetened with honey, maple syrup, or even banana they still contain sugar. Your body isn’t going to know the difference between eating a big pile of healthy baking or eating a candy bar. The sugar in your healthy baking will still ultimately spike your blood sugar if you eat it in large quantities, and eating in excess can impair digestive function as your body will not be able to produce enough digestive juice to break it down. This will over tax your organs especially your liver because you liver has to work over time to make up for the sluggish digestive system. In addition to this if you are eating healthy baking on a daily basis you are replacing snacks that could be vegetables with treats. Also, healthy baking usually doesn’t contain the best food combinations as they usually contain egg and sugars. Healthy baking may seem harmless because its full of such wholesome ingredients, but it should still be considered a treat. Vegetables and some meat (or dairy if you are vegetarian) are the foundation of any healthy diet.

 

When I first started eating paleo (no grains, refined sugar, or other refined foods) I baked a lot of ‘healthy’ muffins and ate them on a daily basis. It helped me to transition into paleo but I soon realized this was not the way it was meant to be done. Paleo means you should be eating meat and vegetables at most meals; not baking things that resemble grain products and eating those instead. Baking with nuts in particular is very common with paleo treats, however, it violates the foundation of paleo. This is because, in large quantities, nuts only serve to replace grains. Nuts still contain some anti-nutrients and can irritate the gut the same as grains. In addition nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats so baking with them can oxidize the fats and create free radicals in your baking (unstable/highly reactive molecules and atoms). Also, if you were a cave man you would have to gather all the nuts yourself, shell them, and grind them; it would take a very long time to get 2 cups of almond meal. Eating nuts in the quantities most people do is unrealistic from a paleo stand point.

 

 

a raw vegan cheesecake I made my mom for her 50th birthday

 

 

So I propose to you, instead of a ‘cheat day’, how about a healthy treat day?

Pick one day a week and bake yourself something wholesome and indulge. This way, your diet is still mostly focused on vegetables, but you can still have your treats. I think this is a great way to limit healthy baking because many people get carried away with it, especially when starting a new diet. Also there was a study done where it was easier for people to turn down junk food when they had something to look forward to, so having a healthy treat day might help you stay on track as well.

 

 

Healthy recipes to try:

 

Chocolate Gogi Energy Balls

Coconut Cashew Ice Cream

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Paleo Carrot Cake by the Food Lovers Kitchen
‘Oatmeal’ cream pies by Unrefined Kitchen – Egg free!
Apple goodness bake by Tara Stiles
Cinnamon raisin ‘oatmeal’ cookies by Against All Grain

 

 

 

My 23rd birthday cake: paleo carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Thank you for reading everyone! You can subscribe below, follow me on google+, or like my facebook page to keep up to date with all my posts.

Let me know in the comments what your next healthy baking plans are!

Until next time!

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