Why is there a picture of ice cream on a low-carb blog? Because this post is about indulgence days. Not over-indulgence days, mind you ;) – which is why there’s only ONE scoop of ice cream in the bowl.
There are as many ways to do low-carb diets/lifestyles as there are people to think them up. One of my friends has lately been on a version of the diet that is fairly strict for the whole week, and then allows one “indulgence day” in which you can eat whatever you want. For a low-carb diet based around ketosis, this strikes me as counter-productive, because getting into ketosis is hard enough that you don’t want to kick yourself out of it once a week. However, if you are doing a more moderate “lower-carb” diet where you’re just breaking really bad eating habits and losing lots of weight in the process, or if you’ve reached your maintenance weight, then this approach may be for you.
Recently, I’ve gotten down to a weight I’m pretty happy with. My clothes fit, I’m within the “normal” BMI range, and I’m happy with how I look. However, the last few times I’ve gone off this diet, I gain back weight fairly quickly, right back up to the next highest set-point about 7-8 pounds up. I don’t want to do that again, so I decided to try a moderate version of the “indulgence day” concept. This also makes it a lot easier to enjoy the dinner club that I organize and have really come to enjoy :)
In my version, I don’t eat whatever I want. This might work for people who have eaten like that most of the time and are in the process of losing a lot of weight. For them, the gains they make the rest of the week will offset their one day of luxury, no matter how extreme. Instead, I try to choose small indulgences that I will really enjoy – having a small dish of ice cream, a regular latte instead of a soy latte, peas or winter squash, fruit, or even really good oatmeal for breakfast. After eating low-carb for months, these seem like real treats! And if I’m going to a dinner party, I can have a small amount of whatever I want to try – that is a real indulgence :) When my boyfriend made a wonderful bread for the Mexican Day of the Dead recently, I was able to enjoy it.
So how’s it working? I’m holding my own. Basically, my weight fluctuates about 2 pounds per week, higher at the beginning of the week after my indulgence on the weekend, and by Friday pretty much back down to where it was. I’d say that’s pretty good, though there is a part of me that is sneakily trying to figure out how to fit a large serving of pasta and chocolate cake into my indulgence ration :)
Oh, and by the way – if you ever want to eat ice cream, it turns out the premium brands have fewer carbs. Yup. Forget about that low-fat ice cream. It doesn’t taste good, and they add a bunch of carbs to offset removing the fat. And the fat helps give the ice cream a more balanced profile. It’s funny – I now look at sorbet and think “it’s a bowl of sugar” – the worst possible choice and something that previously seemed healthy. So – if you’re going to eat ice cream, choose the best :)