June 13, 2016

Dear Melissa: Help Me Wine-d Down Whole30 Style

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Welcome to Dear Melissa, where I answer your questions about transitioning into or completing a Whole30, successfully sticking to your new Food Freedom habits, and figuring out how to make this lifestyle work in the real world. Today, I’m talking to a woman who is missing her wine after a hard day at work, and wondering what she can substitute.

Dear Melissa,

“Definitely a night where I need a drink… what should I substitute? #kombucha? #help” -@thegypseafoodie on Twitter

Dear Meg (@thegypsiefoodie),

I know you’re looking for me to give you a straight substitute, as evidenced by your hashtags. And yes, on the Whole30, it’s perfectly acceptable to pour something else into a fancy glass at the end of the night, like a sparkling water, sparkling tea, or Whole30 Approved Humm kombucha. And that might work just fine for you, because sipping on a sparkling tea is certainly not the same as curling up with a glass (bottle?) of wine.

It is still the same habit, though. (Get home from a hard day, pour something into a glass, sit and sip.) So while this is a perfectly acceptable Whole30 substitute, I’ll also ask if there are other things you could do to give yourself the same graceful transition between work and home. A new routine or action that feels just as rewarding, serves as self-care, and helps you unwind and transition into your evening in a way that leaves you feeling even better than wine ever did.

A new routine, the same reward

While there are a number of short rituals, routines, or behaviors that could serve to help you transition from work to home, here are a few that the Whole30 community have said serve them well:

  • Going for a walk
  • Reading a chapter in a book
  • Spending time outside (gardening, playing with the dog)
  • Putting on good music and meal prepping
  • Doing an at-home yoga class or workout
  • Calling a friend
  • Going to the gym, even if all you do is stretch
  • Taking a shower
  • Taking yourself out for a Whole30 meal, even if you’re solo
  • Tidying or cleaning a small area of your home
  • Playing with your kids
  • Talking with your significant other
  • Grocery shopping (if you find that relaxing, which I do)
  • Brewing a pot of herbal tea

Overwrite the habit, create new tools

The key is less WHAT you do and more that you pick something or a few things and do them consistently. This will help you overwrite a new habit over the old “hard day -> drink wine” habit. Pick things that will help you relieve stress and bring you comfort. For me, it’s going for a short walk, playing with my dog in the backyard, chopping vegetables, and connecting with my husband and kid in a relaxed environment. For you, it could be something you love, but feel like you can’t really indulge in as often as you’d like, like taking 15 minutes to knit, write, or draw. Or it could be something rather routine that simply brings you joy, like chopping vegetables, folding laundry, or cleaning countertops.

The idea is simply to replace your wine habit with something new, so that when your Whole30 is over and life gets hard, your brain has a variety of new plans to fall back on, instead of automatically reaching for alcohol. And hey, as part of your Food Freedom, maybe one of your tools also includes choosing a glass of wine after work. That’s totally great, as long as the choice is conscious, deliberate, and worth it. After all, it’s your Food Freedom.

Best in health,

Got a question for Melissa? Submit it using this handy form.

Remember, we aren’t answering questions about the Whole30 rules via this column (use the forum!), nor are we able to offer you specific advice about your medical issue, health condition, or body composition.

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Melissa Urban is a Certified Sports Nutritionist, and the author of the New York Times bestselling books It Starts With Food and The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom; and the upcoming Food Freedom Forever. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Details, Outside, SELF, and Shape as the co-founder of the Whole30 program. Melissa lives in Salt Lake City, UT.

Photo credit: Marie Carmel Photography

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