Hey, nobody’s perfect…and I suppose we all “cheat,” but is it alright to say it is okay to cheat? I think not. Is it to be expected? I think so. But then, if we do it, why is it then not alright to say it is okay? The answer is simple: it is wrong. Okay, that is a moral judgment but, are we humans not moral beings? Do we not make moral judgments? Is there not a right and wrong in this world? Do we have to see everything through a lens of moral relativism? I say the answer is “no.” It’s not okay, but it is to be expected. No one is perfect.
To be clear, “cheating” means that someone is being unjustly deprived of something that is rightfully theirs. That someone, in this case, is not someone else; it is you. You are cheating yourself!
You are rightfully deserving of good health. You were probably born with it and, if you are reading this column, you managed somehow to lose it. You lost it to the degree to which you have become 1) pre-diabetic, by your doctor’s observation of your fasting blood sugars or A1c’s, or 2), later in the progression of this metabolic disorder, you became a diagnosed Type 2. Or you could be a little overweight (and insulin resistant).
So, I don’t consciously give myself permission to cheat. That would be too permissive. It would lend it an aura of acceptance – that it was in some way permissible; that is was an acceptable practice that somehow wormed its way into my daily or weekly routine and had a legitimate role in my lifestyle. That’s not what I want it to be. How, then, can I control my Way of Eating (WOE) to address the inevitable “cheat”? These are my prerequisites:
1. We all say, “Our health is the most important thing,” but is it just an empty axiom? Not if you know that by close adherence to a low carb WOE over the years you have seen mega improvements in your health. And not if you know that to eat otherwise would put all that at risk. I put the thought of my health first.
2. I try to stay is a state of mild ketosis most of the time. This will keep 1) my blood sugars both low and stable and 2) my blood insulin level low, disabling both hunger and fat storage and enabling fat burning.
3. In this state, with hunger virtually never present (really), cravings (from low blood sugars) are non-existent. So, eating becomes optional. If you’re not hungry, this legitimate reason to eat is off the table. There are, however, lots of triggers for eating besides hunger. And if you’re not hungry, you have to decide how to respond to each of them. Each opportunity to eat is an opportunity to cheat. Here’s how I deal with it:
I simply ask myself, “Am I hungry?” The answer, of course, is “no,” and that is almost always sufficient.
If I’m not hungry, and I do not avail myself of the opportunity to eat for that reason, I have succeeded. Contrast that with the compelling urge or craving you feel when you eat the standard American carb-loaded meal that shuts down fat burning. You feel hungry afterwards. The absence of hunger when your body is in a state of mild ketosis is not a self delusion. It’s a fact. It’s not about will power. My body is satisfied and is not calling on me to eat because it is eating; it is feeding on my body fat. That breakdown of body fat, so long as I am in mild ketosis, is the normal state of man. Ketosis is the way our biology was adapted to feeding ourselves for millennia prior to the Neolithic era only 500 generations (10,000 years) ago. This natural state of ketosis gave us the strength to hunt and gather. It is a healthy state. It is a high-powered, full-energy state, emblematic of an active metabolism.
So long as I remain in a state of mild ketosis (remember: without hunger), if I eat it is for another reason, and there are many: a) the sight or smell or food, b) the thought of food, c) rationalizations (open bags or boxes in the pantry), d) social pressures (when as a dinner guest, food is offered), e) unsolicited food (bread at the restaurant table, hors d’hoeuvres at a party), e) thoughts of deprivation (everyone else is eating dessert at the pot luck), and habit, such as eating two or three meals a day. To all these things I have – in fact, I need, only one response:I simply ask myself, “Am I hungry?” The answer, of course, is “no,” and that is almost always sufficient.