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the 20% (or cheating)

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  • the 20% (or cheating)

    Hello all,

    How do you handle the 20 % rule? Do you consider certain foods (dairy, bread, etc.) consumed once in a while as 20 % or do you consider a few meals per week (pizza, sushi, mashed potatoes etc.) 20 % or do you take complete days of as 20 %?

    I have been having the weekends of, consuming grain and beer within reasonable limits. This most often amounts to roughly three non primal meals (out of an approximate amount of 15-18 per week).

    This might be a little bit of splitting hair ends in the long run, but I have some problems loosing the last few pounds over my stomach. Should I increase my move slowly frequently or skip the cheating? I do PBF quite to the letter and I doubt that I will go 100 % primal regarding food for a longer period.

    thank you for your time.
    Gods unborn son

  • #2
    Well, I don't consider mashed potatoes to be a "cheat" at all considering that they're on the "in moderation" part of the PB shopping list alongside sweet potato, yam, etc. But anyhow.

    I also hate the word "cheat" as related to eating. Call it 20%, call it a non-primal food, but the word "cheat" makes me think of something illicit or sneaky, and I think if you're going to eat non-primal foods, you should do it consciously and openly with awareness of your choice but no guilt.

    I save my 20% for the unavoidables--meals out where I know the oils won't be primal, for example. I also use it for those special events where it would be socially weird to be super strict. For example, last weekend a group of my friends got together. We don't see each other often, and one of the women baked a special gluten-free black forest cake because two of us are celiacs. I was not going to reject her efforts, especially because she'd made it all from scratch so I knew that even if there was sugar in it, she's the sort of person who uses real butter, eggs, and so on. The rest of our meal was fairly primal-friendly--bacon-wrapped dates and some cut-up veggies as appetizers, followed by sukiyaki (no tofu, gluten-free tamari)--so I was not too worried about the cake. I might have that sort of thing once a month. Also, it was a fairly sensible indulgence since it was still gluten-free and made with real food.

    I think people get too caught up in defending things as their 20%. IMO, it's for those unavoidables, not for excusing regularly eating non-primal food. I think if you shoot for 100%, you'll probably achieve 95%. If you shoot for 80%, you'll likely end up with more like 60%. That 20% is for wiggle room, not for throwing the plan out the window every weekend (not saying you do this, but some folks do).

    As for whether being more strict will help with those last few pounds, absolutely, I think it will. Try going 4-6 weeks with more strict primal eating. For me, I had great results doing 6 weeks of quite clean paleo (no dairy, no grain, minimal sugar), dropping 11 pounds and a fair bit of fat over that time. It certainly can't hurt to give it a shot.
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

    Owly's Journal


    • #3
      I agree that the 20% should be meant for unavoidables or incidentals - and by incidentals, i mean a failed attempt at a new recipe that requires the family to order pizza because it's entirely too late to start a new meal, or the kids' birthday parties where store bought cake is present... or in situations like the PP listed.

      I don't see the 20% as an all out "cheat" because if I cheat an allow myself to eat non-primally on the weekends, I have to start all over on Monday with the carb hangovers and the withdrawals. I did all that with CW weight loss and it got me no-where.
      Primal since March 5, 2012
      SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)


      • #4
        I've decided to go back semi stricter and my cheat meal will be corn, not wheat- just can't hack the wheat lectin personally.


        • #5
          I am an OCD regimented person. Because of this being primal is easiest if I eat the same things everyday for the most part. The only real difference is the meat we have for dinner. I usually eat a baked yam for dinner, is that bad?

          As far as cheating, I usually let myself go for a 24 hour period. Usually from noon on SAT to noon on SUN, depending on what we have going on. What I notice is that I have these big grandiose thoughts of what I will eat on my cheat day and end up eating about 20% of what I thought I would. Guess that is my 20%.- George
          Modern Combative Systems Blog


          • #6
            I don't like the 'cheat' mentality either. I strive to eat food that has not been processed, that has been cooked by myself / my husband with known ingredients, and that doesn't harm my body....that being said I look at the birthday cake I made for my son...and I eat a piece - knowing there is sugar and flour in it. But only one and I do it because I'm making an informed choice about what is in it and how it will make me feel. Ditto for the beer, and wine.
            potatos and rice are my starches / carbs of choice - although I eat them about 2-3 times per week only. I don't scedule them - they evolve out of what everyone wants for dinner.
            and I don't sweat it - because I feel better since going primal (eating) than I have in years.

            If I start to worry about 'cheats' then I mess up the 'happy with myself' mojo I got goin' on.

            And that, my friend makes me feel better than a scheduled 'cheat meal' ever could

            my info:

            If you can't tell the truth about yourself, you can't tell it about other people --- Virginia Woolf

            My journal


            • #7
              most people i personally know consider their what you call 20% (which in reality is 5-10% tops) to be things like a sweet potato once a week, maybe something made with cocoa powder and raw honey, or some fruit that is normally not part of the lifestyle

              you must stop thinking of this as a diet, it just isnt that.. its a lifestyle .. most of us have no interest in going back to processed grain crap
              started at 310 July 23rd 2011 ... workin and workin!

              my journal -


              • #8
                I don't like to think of it as cheating either. I've made a conscious decision to change my lifestyle - this isn't a diet, or temporary, or a religion that I have to follow meticulously. Every now and then, on a special occasion (like a celebration of a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment, or my nephew's birthday party), I decide that yes, I am going to have a creme brulee (because I absolutely love it), or a cupcake (because my sister spent time and energy to make them), and I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it and not worry about what happens next, because I eat well all the rest of the time and it won't kill me. Even if that happens once a month, I'm still eating much better than I used to. Enjoying life IS primal.


                • #9
                  I'm with Todd (and a lot of others). I'm living a cleaner lifestyle.
                  The processed grain and sugar, etc. makes me feel awful. What good is a cheat if it's not worth it? My 20% (actually a smaller # than 20) usually consists of incidentals and small "gives" at social events. A couple of bites of ice cream with fairly good ingredients, raw honey in my tea, heavy cream now and then, occasional potato in a soup. That sort of thing.
                  You don't have to be sick to get better.
                  Female, 31 years old, 5'8"
                  Primal start: 1/2/2012
                  My Primal Journal
                  Living, loving and learning.


                  • #10
                    My 20% usually revolves around social gatherings or special occasions or ice cream in the summer. Even then I usually make the best choices I can. I'm more strict on grains then anything else because now grains actually make me feel sick (except white rice, not sure about corn havent had it in so long) as does too much fructose. When I had regularly scheduled weekend cheating it was incredibly detrimental not only to my weight loss but more importantly my Psyche. It just reminded me of my old ways and made changing so much harder. The longer I eat this way the less I want to eat that processed crap.

                    If its my birthday and I want something non-primal then I'll go for it.. or my wedding day.. and I had some flourless chocolate cake on my anniversary.. I had some crust-less sweet potato pie on thanksgiving. So really these are EXCEPTION to my general way of eating.. they are pretty rare. The other part of the 20% is going out to eat because that usually entails eating conventional meats and most of all crappy oils. I only go out to eat once a month.

                    You dont want your diet to cause too much stress in your life. I will tell you at first it IS an added stress, but the longer you do it the less stressful it is. Then once you are in the grove you'll get those moments where its not worth the trouble to go too crazy.... you just try and minimize the damage.
                    Primal since March 2011

                    Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs