Monday, June 24, 2013

Healthful Cheat Days

Ever since I became interested in fitness and healthful nutrition in my first year of business school, I believed in the importance of cheating. Now, I do not propagate academic misconduct or any other form of inherently ill-conceived behaviour, but rather tricking our body into thinking it needs to burn more calories more quickly, which in turn revs up one's metabolism. 

As a rule, it is accomplished through temporarily- typically, for one day each week- stepping away from the regular diet plan. Psychologically, I found it a powerful concept, as I looked forward to rewarding myself for being good by being bad. Physiologically, there appears to be a variation in the levels of a hormone called leptin before and after so-called cheat days, which is responsible for communicating to the body its nutritional status.*

Home-made pizza: whole wheat crust (from scratch), fresh tomatoes, sweet basil and
yellow pepper, home-made pizza sauce, all-natural bison sausage and white cheddar
Overall, I found cheat days a heaven-sent way to sticking to restrictive diets for long periods at a time. Clean eating and everyday workouts were no longer a massive challenge, when I knew to look forward to each Friday, when going to Tim Hortons for a half-a-dozen of disgustingly delicious pastries was legitimized.  Over time, however, as I grew increasingly respectful of my body, the need in empty-calorie foods fell away. Instead, I wanted to supply my anatomy with great nutrients at every meal. 

However, I also believe in intuition and our body's ability to tell us what it needs at any given time of the day (do not confuse it with a junk food habit). Therefore, there is nothing wrong with giving in to an occasional treat, as long as that treat is consumed in moderate quantities and it too contains an adequate amount of high-quality nutrients. Now, if I crave pizza, I would bake my own and add a large fresh garden salad. Chocolate also finds its way into my fridge, as long as the cocoa content is no less than 75 per cent and the list of ingredients is short.

Fresh garden salad with local butter lettuce, tomatoes, yellow pepper, baby cucumbers
and avocado. Dressing: lemon juice and extra virgin organic olive oil
Over time, healthful nutrition and cooking became such an integral part of my being that I attempt to create quality meals each day, whether a cheat day or not.  


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