100 lb. Club - I did an experiment

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04-14-2010, 11:44 AM
Y'all are going to laugh at me, probably, but I did an experiment yesterday.

It had to do with threads I've been reading about people who have "cheat days" or "cheat meals" in which they could eat whatever they wanted, however much they wanted. I've been eating clean for months now, and the whole notion of gorging isn't something I worry about much anymore.

Those same threads talk about their "hangover" the next day from eating like that. I never liked hangovers- that's why I don't get drunk. :)

So I decided to try a "cheat" to see if it was something desirable, if I was too rigid, or if "cheats" would snowball into something horrible...like days-long binges.

Given that I really was worried about those things, I decided on one meal, with the children, at a local chinese place, and a go at what was my worst binge item - toffee peanuts. I used to like americanized Chinese, especially general tso's chicken. My SO is away on travel, so he could neither skew nor hinder the experiment.

We went in around 5 pm. I ate - a fraction of what I would have eaten at one time, but much more than I'm used to eating now. I felt full and weighted down in the middle. I couldn't touch the desserts (I would have, once, in addition to all the buffet stuff).

I tried the toffee peanuts, too. They taste uber-sweet and uber-salty now, but I think that they would still trigger carb cravings.

I am still full-feeling, as well as gaseous and bloated.

So, what have I learned?

1) Probably the most important thing I learned - cheat days are not for me. I would rather have the rare, special days when I choose to eat the gourmet stuff we cook at maintenance calorie levels.

2) That was a miserable experience. No wonder I was a miserable person..

3) I like the way I feel these days - energetic, confident, etc -- far too much to indulge in that sort of foolishness.

4) It would take time for me to backslide into my old lifestyle - I couldn't quit healthy living cold turkey.

5) I still have trigger foods, but they're not uncontrollable triggers now. Mostly I just avoid trigger foods, and the sweetest thing I eat is fruit.

6) Sodium is ****. The scale bounced up with a vengeance - I didn't eat enough to cause that kind of gain, so I'm not really worried about it. But that was ONE meal. What would happen if I ate crap ALL DAY?

7)I'm really glad it was such a horrible experience - I was terribly afraid I would like it.

8)I came away with a good comparison point. I was paying attention to my feelings, bodily functions, watching for cravings, etc. I will still be watching today to see how long the feelings and body stuff lasts. If I am ever tempted to overeat or eat poorly, I have a detailed, complete awareness of what will happen.

9) Food should help us be our best physical being. Bad food just isn't worth it to me.

So, there you go. I'm glad I tried it and am very, very glad that I live a different lifestyle now. Do y'all think I'm a nut?

04-14-2010, 11:52 AM
Very interesting, thanks for sharing :)

04-14-2010, 12:02 PM
Thanks for sharing in such detail! Wow! I think I'll save my "cheat day" or "gorge day" for Thanksgiving. :D I feel like there are enough tempting holidays out there I don't feel the need to seek out a cheat.

I don't know...we'll have to see how life plays out, but I'm good with what I'm doing right now. Getting through the holidays this past year was interesting because I was very new to dieting this go 'round. It's almost easier when you're new because, well, it's NEW. This holiday season, on the other hand, we'll see what my real colors are. ;)

04-14-2010, 12:05 PM
Brilliant. No, I don't think you're a nut. You set about this very rationally, very much like a behavioral scientist, biologist & chemist all rolled into one. To my way of thinking, the fluctuation in your weight due to fluid retention is worth the self-knowledge you acquired.

Also, more selfishly, you have reassured me a little because I've had the same thoughts about myself.

My conclusion is that these "cheat days" are, for me, going to not be called "cheat days" but "real life" -- there are going to be occasions where life sends me something big, social & unavoidable with food as an integral part. But I have to be very strict in classifying & agreeing to these occasions. They can't happen every month. They have to be something that someone else plans & invites me to, not something I initiate. The food quality has to be superb. (I mean, really superb. Colonel Saunders or the Olive Garden just don't cut it.) And I still must be sensible & implement other good habits like portion control & in particular, not give into what I want to call the "contact high" of seeing people all around me loosen up their belts & dig in. (I am very susceptible to the peer pressure thing: "Everyone else is enjoying themselves with abandon.")

For me, allowing myself to eat has become far more fraught than banning & avoiding certain foods entirely, so I totally get all the thought & effort you put into this.

04-14-2010, 12:13 PM
I don't think you are nut. You never know unless you try and sometimes it just won't go away so to speak until you give it a try. I have tried different things to try and spark a weight loss or see if I should do something different. Sometimes work somethings dont! Don't be afraid to try though!

04-14-2010, 12:22 PM
I think that's awesome and pretty funny. No, I don't think you're a nut. Testing stuff out on yourself in a controlled way is good thinking.

I have to agree with all your conclusions about healthy eating. It just feels too good to give up for crap.

04-14-2010, 12:53 PM
You know, I almost didn't post this, feeling a little silly even. Am glad now that I did, as I remain curious about what people will think. :D

saef...I DO have a background in research, so you pinned me on that one. Mostly social research; structured inquiry and following my curiosity are embedded in my soul. :) I totally agree with you...whether it is chocolate or a special dinner/event, food snobs R us.

04-14-2010, 12:59 PM
Not a nut.

I personally regard my entire weight loss journey as my own scientific experiment. Of course I was educated as a biologist and now make my living as a programmer, so obviously a geek.

I don't specifically "cheat" as my plan allows for me to eat whatever I want in whatever quantity I want as long as I keep the calorie deficit average where I want it. That said however, when I go back to Michigan twice a year, I don't track at all as most of what I'm eating is prepared by family or eating out. And there are many foods I look forward to and eat while I'm there that just aren't available here, so I eat them. But I have noticed that I automatically keep myself in check. For example, I go out for fried lake perch, but don't eat the fries or mac and cheese that come with it. At the Mexican place that I go with co-workers for lunch, I have their special burrito, I don't get the chips and salsa that was the "normal" side order. No sides for me at all, that stuff I can get anywhere.

I so love how we are all going at weight loss from so many approaches. Shows how what results in success is following the plan that is right for you, including setting up our own experiments.

04-14-2010, 12:59 PM
I like how you went into it with a clear head. My "cheats" have usually been emotional eating and were later really regretted. I understand how taste and likes change after some time eating healthy. I have to request things unsalted when out because the amount that is on some foods makes me want to gag now. Even when I "cheat" and have a small french fry (verse my old Super size) I get the unsalted.

Good experiment , you seemed to learn alot and that is what this journey is about. "When you know better ,you do better".

04-14-2010, 02:27 PM
I think it's great (and very useful) to have a cheat meal or even a cheat day once in a while. I mean, even criminals get time off for good behavior.

Just be careful -- my "experiment" was for a week "off" from journaling and counting calores. I figured that, after 4 months of being good I had acquired the right habits and didn't need to monitor myself so carefully.

BIG BIG MISTAKE. Some of the good habits it took me months to develop disappeared in one week and three weeks later, I'm only now getting back into the habit of recording everything.

Thankfully, I learned from my mistake -- like you, I'll make an exception for a day or a meal ... but never again for a week!

04-14-2010, 02:46 PM
I don't really view it that way, bbigham... I'll make planned exceptions for something truly special, but as saef said that isn't really a cheat at all.

I recorded the food stuffs I ate into my food log, and it lit up red all over the place. Too much fat, too much sodium, too many calories... everything except for fiber was over what I need on any given day.

After that experience, I truly don't want time off - time on makes me a much happier camper.

04-14-2010, 03:51 PM
Seriously. I still enjoy my cheat days... or my days off so to speak, but a lot of them have just turned into "gourmet" days like you mentioned so they're not even bad.

It's been a crazy week for my family and I'd been working exhausting hours so I actually threw caution out the window and bought McDonald's for dinner AND for breakfast this morning... and for someone who doesn't eat out often? Yeah. I'm SO paying for it right now. I feel TERRIBLE. Absolutely TERRIBLE. I even have a headache! And the thirst from the sodium...?! &%$*!

Amazing how we could eat like that before, isn't it??

04-14-2010, 05:55 PM
Weekend before last my family was coming for easter weekend, and we spent all night Thursday getting ready. We didn't want to cook, and we did what we would have done in the past - order a delivery from a restaurant (in this case Indian). I had been calorie counting only for a few weeks, and I figured I would only eat about a third of my portion. As soon as the food arrived, old habits kicked in, and I scarfed down the whole thing. What was different was how I felt afterwords, absolutely stuffed and sick to my stomach and exhausted and yucky, whereas before I would have thought nothing of it. This after just a few weeks of changing my diet!

I thought of that experience when I ended up a restaurant last night for an unavoidable social occasion, and I was able to eat only half of my turkey burger on whole wheat. So I think it ended up being really valuable for me, because it gave me a whole additional reason to keep from overindulging - instead of feeling like I was deprived of pleasure, I felt like I was avoiding pain!

04-14-2010, 07:18 PM
Well I, for one, think you are an *absolute* nut.

...Kidding. ;)

No, actually, I think it's really awesome that you had this kind of experience and were able to see for yourself exactly how it feels to try out this kind of thing. I personally never had what I would think of as "cheat days" when I was losing weight--I would have either perfectly on-plan days, the occasional planned treat (just 1 item that I was really craving, worked into my calories for the day), orrrr moments where I just completely fell off the wagon and let it run me over a few times, LOL. 3FCers have had lots of varying experiences of working cheat days into their plans, but personally I think other people's opinions can only get you so far... The best thing you can do is to try it out firsthand and see whether it works for you, which is exactly what you did. And it looks like you've had pretty much the best kind of conclusions that you could have hoped to have, hehe. WTG! :yay:

By the way, I totally know what you mean about the way the toffee peanuts tasted... If you go for too long without eating stuff like that, the first time you have it again it tastes *so* strong. Everything that isn't good for you suddenly tastes sooo sugary, salty, etc that it almost loses its appeal--but like you said, only "almost," LOL. That's how I can tell when I've been eating too much junk lately... When it starts to taste "normal" again. :lol:

04-14-2010, 10:15 PM
2) That was a miserable experience. No wonder I was a miserable person..

3) I like the way I feel these days - energetic, confident, etc -- far too much to indulge in that sort of foolishness.

I love it, I am working on this too!

04-14-2010, 10:36 PM
I try to not think in terms of "cheat" days because I try to not think of myself as being on a diet - this is just my way of life now. And some days, every decision I make about food isn't the best one it could be, but that's fine - I am making these choices and generally, not eating mindlessly.

I'm not a gourmet at all, but I am a little bit of a food snob and even when I wasn't counting calories, you'd never catch me at an all you can eat buffet. If I'm going to eat out, I'd rather have my food prepared fresh for me, and not eat whatever's been sitting on a steam table. And your experience just reinforced it in my head that kind of meal is never worth the calories you end up spending.

Having said that, I am going out to a restaurant on Saturday to celebrate my birthday. I'll be having lobster which is low cal enough that I will also try small portions of the sides too, and still end up in my normal calorie range. But even if I went over it, I know that I wouldn't end up that far. Even my very worst days since I started calorie counting have been moderate compared to what they could and would have been in the past. And I love it that my instincts now are guiding me to follow this more healthy way of eating. SO glad for you that the same thing happened!

04-14-2010, 10:43 PM
how icky! glad you found how strong you are!

04-14-2010, 10:45 PM
Oh totally! Cheat days obviously don't work for you, and I think it's good that you know this. And I think it's really important that we learn how food interacts with our body - it's something I ignored when I was eating food to make me feel better, not because I was hungry.