I’m asked, probably more than any other question, “When do you eat non-Paleo food?” The answer is not complicated, but I’m really firm about this. I only eat non-Paleo food at special occasions. Holidays, birthdays, or special evenings out. These are few and far in-between, however, and if many of these occasions are grouped together, I’m extra vigilant and I try my best to avoid any non-Paleo food.
Last week, my wife and I went to the Habitat for Humanity Gala in The Woodlands, Texas, and fortunately for us, most of the food was Paleo-friendly with the exception of the rolls, a frosted cookie, and the dessert. I decided to skip the rolls and the frosted cookie, but I did eat the dessert. It was very sweet and quite delicious, and most definitely not Paleo, but it was acceptable. It was a special occasion, a special dinner, and a special cause. I enjoyed the dessert without guilt. I’ve done solid work to get to my current weight of 168 lbs, and I know that one dessert won’t derail me.
And it didn’t.
The next day, I was right back to my regular diet, and my weight didn’t change. I had weathered the blip in my diet without nary a scratch. And that’s the norm: nothing bad will happen with one course that’s not Paleo in an entire meal. It’s when the entire meal is non-Paleo, and then that meal is followed by another non-Paleo meal, and then another when trouble sets in.
On my vacation to Spain earlier this year, I did my best to be as Paleo as possible, but by the second week, I threw caution to the wind and decided to just eat whatever I wanted (within reason) and ended up gaining 12 lbs over the entire trip. I lost 9 of those lbs within a few days of returning, but it took me another week to drop the rest. Even though I gained a lot, returning to my regular diet brought my weight back down to normal pretty quickly.
But the key is to return to the diet quickly. When it’s one course or one meal, the damage is minimal, if any. It’s when you go for days or weeks off the diet that trouble sets in. Aside from the fact that you may slip off permanently, it’s just not worth it to me. I like the way I feel too much.
So, do I go off-plan? Sometimes, but very rarely.