Monday, April 2, 2012

Cheating, Cheating, Paleo Eating

Many of my friends are good cooks, one couple in particular. When we get together for semi-regular dinners, it's always fun to open up a few bottles of homemade wine or mead and savor the smells in the kitchen as we nosh on olives and feta, talking and laughing and speculating on how much kick-ass is going to be in the next episode of "Game of Thrones". Last night's dinner will be hard to top, what with the honey and lemon braised lamb, the grape-leaf ground beef roll-ups with onion and red pepper, the pomegranate cardamom sorbet... and again I say, the lamb. So far, a pretty respectable Paleo meal, though this couple is not Paleo at all-- they had also made homemade flatbread and "dragon rice" (more red pepper), and those were easy enough for me to resist, save for one itty bitty piece of bread.

"What did you DO to me?!" -My Stomach
My ultimate undoing showed up in the form of half-dollar sized lemon cookies. Whenever I have a meal or snack that involves gluten, my Paleo cheat, I actually try to overdo it. Instead of munching on one small bit of bread just for the texture or having one small cookie for the flavor, I get a running start and jump off the cliff into the raging rapids below; I have 15 cookies instead, and while that may not seem like much to someone that hasn't eliminated gluten and grains from their standard diet, it ends up being the equivalent of digesting sand to me. But I do it this way for a reason; if I have only small amounts of gluten or grains come back into a meal, I don't usually notice any immediate or lasting discomfort. It just makes me feel bloated and drains me of decent energy for a couple days, but then I start thinking it's acceptable to have cheats more often, like once a week... or once a day. But if I overdo it, I feel like I've been sucker-punched in the abdomen, run over by a panzer, and had my joints and spine replaced with chalk. And I associate that horrible horrible horrible feeling with the crap I allowed back into my body, meaning I won't want to eat anything like it again for at least another month, after my digestive tract has repaired itself and my liver and kidneys have stopped screaming at me like an Edvard Munch painting.

The takeaway: when you eat Paleo, of course you're going to cheat a few times. Too much of our society is built on grains, and too much of our food supply has garbage in it, so to completely eliminate everything bad for you means you'd have to move into the woods and eat nothing but rabbit and squirrel until you get your sharp pointy stick and your bow and arrows ready to go. Cheating isn't bad, not at all. It's just, shall we say, delicate. I've had the temptation a few times to change my Paleo cheat schedule to once a week, but I can't bring myself to do it because that would result in me feeling like poo for more time than I'd like during my week, and I don't see a Friday Double Stuf Oreo as worth it.

So go ahead! Have a grilled cheese sandwich made with white bread and nuclear/traffic cone colored cheeze product. Just do what you have to do to ensure those sandwich materials won't be hovering in your kitchen for the next month!

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