To “Cheat” or Not To “Cheat”?

Homemade Mint Chocolate Bit Ice Cream
How do you decide when to step off the “paleo train” for a brief moment of indulgence?
One can come up with a way to “justify” an indulgence ALL THE TIME these days. Everywhere you turn there are “special occasions,” social gatherings and end of the week parties. If we always used them as an excuse to have a treat, extra cocktails, or our favorite non-primal foods, we could quickly be off the “paleo train” for good. 90% paleo quickly becomes 50% paleo (or AKA the Standard American Diet)! So where do you draw the line? How do you make a good decision – one that let’s you have a little fun, but still works towards optimal health?
Here’s my two cents: take it for what it’s worth:-)
Each indulgence should be a conscious choice. It should be a choice that is worth every bite to you. And every bite should be savored. 
Think about this way. You head out on a Friday night knowing that after dinner you are going to order dessert, simply because it’s Friday. You are “ready” for a treat. You choose the chocolate cake (your favorite dessert), but the chocolate cake is less then the best. Is it worth it to waste the sugars, flours, calories, and possible post-cake symptoms on something that just tastes okay?
Here are a few personal examples of times when a “cheat” has been worth it to me:
1) The ice cream pictured above is one that I made this past summer. I infused cream with fresh mint leaves from our herb garden, used dark chocolate bits, real sugar (cut in half) and eggs. It was AMAZING, REAL, and worth EVERY bite!
Of course, I’m not saying you all have to make your own ice cream to indulge in it. My point is that personally this moment was 100% worth it.
2) During a trip to Napa over the summer we ate at an awesome family style, chef’s tasting menu, locally sourced restaurant one night. One of the appetizers served was this amazing lemony tapenade over toasted bread. It’s easy for me to pass up bread at this point, but the flavors and textures of the whole combination was something I had never experienced. I ate each bite slowly, fully appreciating the unique experience. It didn’t take many bites to reach full satisfaction. Again, 100% worth it!
3) My last example took place recently at one of my, and my husband’s, favorite local restaurants. We had purchased a dinner for ten to this spot at a fundraiser earlier in the year. Normally, we have our go-to items on the menu that fall closely within the parameters of our primal lifestyle. However, this special dinner included a five course menu selected by the chef (not us) with accompanying cocktails. It was a night with great friends, quality food and in a unique scenario. Not an experience you can create at the blink of an eye. So, we approached it as such. If part of the meal wasn’t worth it to me, I left it on the plate. If a part tasted great and made an impression, I enjoyed it. After a great evening, I left knowing it was 100% worth it!
In each of these examples, the take home message is: be fully present, make a conscious choice, love every bite and walk away with zero guilt.
I’ve also had my share of “cheats” that weren’t worth it and it’s never fun to question “why did I bother?! Now I feel terrible.”
Check out this awesome flow chart (below) by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig from Whole 9 Life. Using it may help you stick to foods that promote a healthy body around 95% of the time, and choose “indulgences” wisely the other 5% or so. How often do you “cheat” and what are your strategies?


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