At a local seminar last week, an attendee asked Melissa, “Do you ever cheat?” There was so much to this question: We don’t call it a cheat, because we’re doing nothing wrong. We aren’t perfect eaters, because no one is, and we don’t expect you to be either. Yes, we indulge, when we decide it’s worth it. In essence, we practice what we preach.*
That brought to mind this post, originally written after a trip to Mexico in 2011. It’s a good reminder for those who have been following us a while, and a good introduction into our general nutrition philosophy for those new to the Whole9. Enjoy.
*For more on how we balance healthy eating with worth-it indulgences, re-read the “Life After Your Whole30” chapter in It Starts With Food. Or read this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Because we’ve written about balancing healthy eating with special, delicious, worth-it foods so. many. times.
While on vacation in Mexico, we posted the following status update on our Facebook page: “Whole9 is grilling fresh mahi, making a giant batch of guac and kicking our heels up with some hand-made corn tortillas.” This was kind of a boring update, so imagine our surprise when almost 40 comments rolled in! (We’ve included a smattering of them here.)
We felt like this was an interesting subject for a post, given it’s not the first time this has come up. (We once admitted consuming some Nutella-stuffed French toast to a workshop crowd. The looks of shock and horror on our audience’s faces made us wonder if we actually said we ate a deep-fried kitten for breakfast.) The question is, does our standing as leaders in this community mean we have to be Food Robots, never eating off plan (or worse, doing it but never admitting it in public)?
Some may say we’re hypocritical for advocating the values of the Whole30 while eating the occasional corn tortilla or piece of French toast. We’d like to think we’re simply human, and doing a good job of actually practicing what we preach. So how DO you feel when you “catch” your nutrition educators eating less-than-healthy foods?
It’s not the Whole365
For those who are new to the site, it might be easy to believe that we are, in fact, food robots. The Whole30 program has been described as “militant” (among other things), and we understand it’s far more strict than a general Paleo or Primal approach. But please, do not confuse the Whole30 with living a Whole9 life.
The Whole30 is a short term (30 day) program. It’s designed to be a nutritional “reset” to help people get their metabolisms back on track, banish their sugar demons back into the darkness, and figure out the way the food they are eating is actually affecting them. But please note–it’s the Whole30, not the Whole365. And while there have been folks who have taken their program out an extra month or two, we don’t encourage anyone to stick with the Whole30 forever, and we don’t live Whole30 all the time, either.
Even if you haven’t read everything we’ve ever written (we’ve written a lot), it would be hard for you to miss the parts where we encourage you to take your Whole30 lessons out into the real world and create your own healthy, happy, sustainable lifestyle. That’s right–we think you should indulge from time to time! Constantly passing up Mom’s Christmas chocolate chip cookies, your own wedding cake, or a fresh, hand-made corn tortilla in Mexico because you’re trying to eat perfectly doesn’t sound very happy, balanced, or sustainable to us. On the other hand, hoovering every sweet treat you come across doesn’t sound very healthy, either.
We believe there is a perfect middle ground, which leans way to the side of healthy while still allowing you to enjoy the foods you really, truly love. And we have dedicated so much time and energy on the blog, in It Starts With Food, on our Whole30 forum, and in our seminars to helping you figure out what that looks like for you.
Is that (insert food here) really worth it?
Here’s what we think is the most awesome thing about our program: We don’t decide for you what food may or may not be “worth it.” In addition, understand that “worth it” has nothing to do with how “bad” the food may be.
You, as big boys and girls, get to do your nutritional off-roading all on your own. If corn tortillas or French toast aren’t your thing, then skip ’em. If your favorite food in the whole world is dark chocolate or hummus, then that becomes your indulgence. If you prefer tequila shots or a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries, then those are your things. We’re not here to tell you whether a food is worth it, or that it’s “too unhealthy” of a treat to even consider eating. We just try to provide guidelines for helping you determine how, when, why and how often to indule, and when you should just take a pass. And isn’t that the way it should be?
Hypocritical, or human?
So here is our position, in a nutshell. Do the Whole30 a few times a year to push your nutritional “reset” button. Follow our helpful guidelines for nutritional off-roading and make your own educated, informed decisions about incorporating less-than-healthy foods based on what you’ve learned from your Whole30 experiences. And continue to refine your own “worth it” determinations as you expand your knowledge of your own healthy eating habits.
So, based on the above, what do you think? Are your nutrition role models hypocritical for not upholding their strictest standards 365 days a year… or are we simply human, enjoying all the benefits of our own Good Food programs in a happy, healthy, sustainable fashion? Discuss.
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