Controlled cheating

i eat a pretty great diet (low-to-moderate carb, low in saturated fat, high in good fats, virtually all whole, unprocessed foods) but sometimes have pangs for food that’s not really diabetes-friendly. one idea i’ve seen in non-diabetic diet books is the “cheat meal”, where once a week you have something delicious and bad for you as a reward for maintaining great control over your diet the rest of the week. in an ideal world, we would maintain control all the time, but the reality is that people aren’t perfect and sometimes slip up, eat a cheeseburger/slice of cheesecake/pizza/etc.

is this a recipe for better, more consistent control, or is it a slippery slope towards an unhealthy diet? thoughts? does it matter if you’re a type I who can bolus for it?

I don’t look at it as cheating. I am more worried about the pantsometer than the glucometer for stuff like that.

As I’ve said on here before I don’t like the whole idea of “cheating”, controlled or otherwise. This whole breaking things down into “good” and “bad” is very arbitrary, and is also a set-up to “rebel” against having to be “good” all the time, by being “really bad”. I think these ideas aren’t appropriate or useful for mature self-determining adults who can make choices about how they eat to determine a balance of diabetes friendly and satisfying meal patterns that they can live with ongoing. I don’t think your eating a cheeseburger/cheesecake, pizza, etc is a “slippery slope” unless you think about it that wayand then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As for the type 1’s who can bolus for it thing I do think it is just one more tool but I think if it’s used as an excuse to eat whatever you want and take more and more insulin to cover more and more carbs, that can be a slippery slope that can lead to weight gain, development of insulin resistance and the risk of mis-calculating high doses of insulin which can lead to unexpected highs and lows.

It’s not cheating if you plan for it :slight_smile:

As a T1 who “can” bolus for “anything” I want, there is a point where I have to ask myself if it’s really worth it… not in terms of my health, but in overall calories consumed. I am not a health nut, and I am not skinny, but I would prefer not to get any bigger - that’s enough to avoid most kinds of temptation… I tend to watch my calories more than exactly “what” I am eating… your body doesn’t care what you eat, unless you are consuming more calories than you need.

I think there is a big difference between “treating yourself” and deliberately compromising your goals by having a bad “cheat meal.” Why don’t you think about separating the concepts of foods that you enjoy and foods that are bad for you. Aren’t there lots of foods that you enjoy, are good for you, but are perhaps expensive, difficult to get or hard to prepare? And you can have a larger bolus to cover additional carbs for one meal without blowing your whoe diet.

I don’t find the dichotomy of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food particularly helpful, and get especially irritated by women (it is almost always women) who jabber on about ‘sinful’ food. Even concepts of ‘healthy’ get completely turned on their head for people with non-standard pancreatic configurations like us. I remember thinking the food in the hospital was pretty healthy, and couldn’t figure out why my BG was always sky-high after ‘healthy’ hospital meals of wholewheat toast and fruit.

There are no diabetes-unfriendly foods, it all depends on the portion size. It’s important for me to remember this because feeling deprived or restricted makes it more tempting to fall off the bandwagon. I can eat a little bit of anything and everything and it won’t spike me. But a little really means a little, like half a teaspoon of dessert, or a small bite of donut (two small bites if it is a truly good donut). And if I need to bolus for it, well I’ll bolus for it - after all, I need to bolus even for no-carb meals. I would never consider it ‘cheating’ to eat a cheeseburger or pizza but I eat them in controlled ways. A McDonald’s cheeseburger actually only counts as 15g carb for me because I throw away the bottom half of the bun. I don’t know about you but 15g is pretty low-carb and some people might not even need to bolus for that. Last week I had some Domino’s thin-crust pizza which was a surprising 17g carb per slice - ok they were quite small slices but they did hit that glorious P-spot that only pizza can!

Actually I’m a bit bothered by your phrase ‘something delicious and bad for you’ - delicious things do not need to be bad for you. Conversely, there are things which the non-D world would consider ‘healthy’ and ‘good for you’ which to me are delicious but unfortunately, bad from from blood-sugar management point of view. I am thinking of fruit here, which I love, but which I now have to bolus for. I have seen some ultra low-carb advocates ruling out tomatoes, onions and peppers as being ‘bad’ as they are too high in carbs. I could not live my life without tomatoes or onions so according to this point of view, I am ‘cheating’ by eating these ‘bad’ foods.

I don’t see it as cheating. Each person’s dietary choices are personal and there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to what you can/cannot eat.

Personally, I’m a type 1 (thus, using insulin). I don’t subscribe to a low carb diet (I eat somewhere around 150-200g of carbs a day). I know my personal responses to certain foods, when/how to bolus for them, and adjust accordingly. I have a 5.9% A1c.

It’s really all personal! For many people, my diet just wouldn’t work. For me, it does.

The best advice I have is ‘eat to your meter’. If your meter says you can’t/shouldn’t do something, don’t do it.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that there are any “good” or “bad” foods. I think it’s ok to eat all things in moderation. No, I won’t eat brownies for every meal (as much as I might like to), but if I plan it into my (otherwise very balanced) diet (and take insulin to cover it), I think it’s totally fine. I don’t consider it cheating. For me, when I start putting labels on things, it becomes a slippery slope on the way to bad body image and negativity.

Granted, I am Type 1 and take insulin, so I do think it might be easier for me to do this. That’s just my perspective. But no matter what particular brand of diabetes you have, I think it’s less helpful to see foods as “good” or “bad” and more beneficial as “will cause glucose to rise this much and this fast” etc. That way you don’t attach any emotion to food. Does that make sense? Hopefully it does.

Besides, if you listen to people like the ADA, ‘good’ ‘healthy’ foods are stuff like starchy carbohydrates, fruit like bananas etc etc…

To tell you the truth, hi-fat/hi-protein foods are the easiest to deal with, because the fats and proteins slow down the digestion of carbs. aka “pizza effect”. I had this mastered in my college years, I could inhale large quantities of pizza and keep my bg in control, no problem.

What’s a little sad, is that I think of eating any piece of fruit as “cheating” because there’s no fats or proteins to slow down the bg spike. So I feel guilty if I down some blueberries or an apple once or twice a week, almost scared to talk about it here.

That’s a good point. I hardly ever eat fruit. I drink V8 pretty regularly and feel like I get a lot of vitamins from that and other vegetables but fruit isn’t worth it for me.

Over the holidays, I did cheat probably way too much. I figured since my bgs were always below 125, I was OK. I had a HbA1c a couple of weeks ago and it came back 6.7 almost a point higher than my last one. So for me the cheating does matter. I am normally on a low carb diet 15 carbs or less per meal, so around 50-60 most days. I am now thinking I need to drop that to 5-10 carbs per meal. The only time I allow myself to cheat is when I know I will be working out fairly heavy. Like today I knew I had to go and shovel ice and snow off the driveway so I treated myself to a couple of slices of sprouted bread.

I usually enjoy my fruit at lunch where I often have cheese, fruit an crackers. The protein in the cheese I guess is what makes the carbs in the fruit and the crackers work ok. I do better with some fruits than others. If I even look at a mango or a pineapple I’m in blood sugar hell. I look back longingly to my days in Guatemala before I got my correct diagnosis when I could eat fruit granola and yogurt for breakfast…and Guatemalan fruit was so good!

I think everyone has really expressed well the whole fallacy of “good” and “bad”!