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.) We’ll first say that we do hold ourselves to a higher nutritional standard than we expect from our clients. For one, we just feel better on a super-squeaky-clean diet. Two, we think we should hold ourselves to a higher standard, given our leadership role within the community. But does that 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(er) to the site, introduced through our most recent Whole30 program, 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 agree it’s the strictest program we’ve seen in the realm of Paleo 30 day challenges. But please, do not confuse the Whole30 with Whole9. The Whole30 is a short term (30 day) program we roll out 2-3 times a year. 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 once and for all 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 every single day… and we don’t live the Whole30 all the time, either.
If you haven’t read everything we’ve ever written (and we’ve written a lot), it may have been easy to miss the posts where we encourage you to employ what you learned during your Whole30 program as part of a healthy, happy, balanced and sustainable lifestyle. We want you to turn our program into life-long practices, which means you’re going to go off the rails from time to time. And… we think you should! Passing on Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, your own wedding cake or a fresh, hand-made corn tortilla in Mexico doesn’t sound very happy, balanced or sustainable to us… but 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 help you figure out what that looks like for you in all of our nutrition workshops, with our consulting clients, and in a number of long-established, published posts.
- Teaching You to Fish. Urban Gets Diesel’s original Whole30 follow-up, from August 2009.
- The Whole9 Guide to Eating Dirty, Part I. Originally published in June 2009 – is there really a valid scientific reason to “cheat”?
- The Whole9 Guide to Eating Dirty, Part II. Originally published in June 2009 – how to “cheat smart”, and not go off the rails (indefinitely).
- That Covert Yogurt. From October 2009 – a reminder that food is sneaky, and how to keep post-Whole30 “treats” in perspective.
- Life After Your Whole30. Whole30 participants offer tips and tricks for YOUR Day 31, from June 2010.
- It’s Our Own Darn Program. Melissa and Dallas analyze their Whole30 experience, from June 2010.
Is that (insert food here) really worth it?
Hopefully, you now understand that Whole9 is NOT Whole30 – 24/7, and you’ve read more about our philosophy on eating as healthy as you can in a sustainable, balanced fashion. But 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, are going to have to do your nutritional off-roading all by yourselves. 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 indulge… and when you should just take a pass. And isn’t that the way it should be? (To clarify your own positions on “worth it” and “not”, consider completing your own version of our official Healthy/F-Off scale.)
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 “eating dirty”, 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 nutritional educators – all of us – 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.