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In this “Dear Melissa” episode, Melissa (she/her) celebrates the release of her new book, The Whole30 Friends and Family, by answering listener questions about talking to friends and family about food in a way that brings you closer together, not further apart. Melissa helps you craft your Whole30 elevator speech, hold your boundaries in social situations, and respond to defensiveness or criticism about your “weird diet” gracefully. She also explains how to navigate dinner invitations while on the Whole30, why having a simple conversation is your greatest Whole30 success strategy, and flips the script on feeling jealous that other people can eat “whatever they want.”

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THIS EPISODE’S GUEST

Melissa Urban

Whole30 Head Mistress, Co-Founder

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The Whole30 Friends and Family (NEW!)
Food Freedom Forever (with three chapter about talking to friends and family about food)

MU: 00:03 Hi, my name is Melissa Urban and you’re listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick.

MU: 00:20 Today is a very special episode. It is the last episode in season one of Do the Thing. This is episode number 25, I can’t believe we’ve done 25 already and I’m closing it out with an incredibly special edition because today October 15th is also the birth of my eighth Whole30 book baby, The Whole30 Friends and Family. My newest Whole30 book is out today and this entire episode is all about Whole30, friends, and family. I’m helping you navigate challenging social situations while on the Whole30 which is exactly what this newest book is about. The Whole30 Friends and Family came about after observing so many people still struggling with how to handle social situations on the program. You had the food thing down, you were planning and preparing. You are cleaning out your pantry. You are planning meals, you are grocery shopping, packing your emergency food.

MU: 01:23 You had your support team, you had thrown away the scale but you were still struggling with every day social situations, not holidays. Holidays happen once a year and most of us plan our whole thirties around the biggest holidays. It was the everyday social stuff that was throwing you for a loop. Things like birthday parties and date nights, family dinners, so I decided to create a book to help you navigate these social situations with ease. The Whole30 friends and family offers 22 menus for every day, social occasions, things that will probably come up during your Whole30 everything from date nights to family game nights to beach picnics. Maybe you’ve got a study date or a Sunday brunch or a weekend house guest. All of those we got you covered with more than 150 all new recipes we’re giving you appetizers and sharable bites, dips, dressings and sauces, main courses, salads, vegetables, side dishes, festive, gorgeous, mocktails and even a few fruit based desserts for those special occasions.

MU: 02:28 In addition for every menu I’ve provided you some of my best tips for navigating social challenges and helping to make the event successful, whether you’re hosting or just attending as a guest. The whole book was designed to help you stick to your Whole30 commitment while getting out there and staying social on the program, so to celebrate the book launch, I am answering some of your questions left to me on social media and in voice mail about how you can be even more successful about sticking to your Whole30 commitment in social situations. The questions you sent me in were really good and I’m hoping I give you enough practical application tips and tricks here to help you navigate your next social situation with ease and bonus. I also share a few of my favorite recipes from the new book. All right, that’s enough chat. I hope you enjoy the Whole30 friends and family if you pre-ordered it. If not, it’s available today. Everywhere books are sold. I’ll let you wait until after the podcast to order it now onto the episode. Here’s a question that Amy left on my voicemail system.

Amy: 03:35 Hi, this is Amy. I wanted to see if you could share some ideas on how to explain that you’re doing a Whole30 without people assuming that you’re trying to lose weight or unhappy with your body.

MU: 03:46 This sentiment was echoed by a number of people on Instagram, including Corrine who said, I need a Whole30 elevator speech. The first step when you’re talking to friends and family about the program is figuring out how to describe what you’re doing. It’s really common for people when they observe you making changes to your dietary habits to assume you are on a diet for weight loss. It’s almost as if that’s the only reason someone would change the way that they eat, and that’s not anybody’s fault for assuming that that’s what we have all been taught, that we all must diet to lose weight as weight is the epitome of health. Like this is diet culture at its finest, but we want to change the narrative and explain exactly what the Whole30 is, how it’s different than a diet and your personal reasons for wanting to go through this self experiment.

MU: 04:39 So yes, you need an elevator pitch. It’s a way to describe what you’re doing so that you can share that with the people you choose to share it with. So here are some tips for a Whole30 elevator speech. I would recommend staying away from words like diet or detox or cleanse or saying things like I can’t have, that’s just very diet speak and it frames it in a way that is going to immediately relate back to this idea of dieting for weight loss. I prefer to frame the Whole30 as a self experiment. It’s a 30 day self experiment or you could say something like it’s an elimination plan or it’s a 30 day reset. So the first thing I say is I’m on this 30 day self experiment to help me figure out how certain foods work for me. And then you could follow it up with your personal why.

MU: 05:33 I like this idea of sharing what you’re doing from a very personal experience. There’s a difference in saying, Oh, I hear the Whole30 is really good for cravings and saying, I’m doing the program because my cravings have been out of control. And it’s different for two reasons. The first is that it creates this like shared experience where you’re revealing something personal about yourself, which leads to a connection. The other reason framing it this way is important, is that it doesn’t put people on the defensive. So listen to this. If you say, Oh, the Whole30 is great for helping people eat less sugar, your conversation partner might hear you eat too much sugar, don’t you? Even though that’s not what you said, food is highly personal and people can become defensive just by you doing what you’re doing. Now, if you flip it around and say, Oh, I’ve been struggling with prowling through the pantry every night and I always end up eating too much, or lately I can’t finish a meal without craving something sweet, and I’m trying to break that habit that keeps the focus on you and reduces the potential that the person is gonna get defensive and bonus.

MU: 06:48 That experience that you’re sharing very openly and vulnerably may also be relatable to them and that may prompt them to want to know more. Or at the very least it will create a connection instead of division. In this conversation you want to make your explanation as personal as is appropriate for your relationship. So you don’t want to talk about your digestive issues in great detail with your boss, but if you’re talking to your mom or your best friend, you may decide to dig a little deeper and be more open or vulnerable about your reasons for taking on the program. So you’ve identified it as like a self experiment or a reset. You’ve talked about your personal reason for wanting to do it and then at the end finish it up with what you hope to learn from the program. So at the end of the 30 days, I hope my cravings will be under control.

MU: 07:33 I should have some new nighttime habits and hopefully I’ll sleep better. And this works just as well. If your reason is related to aches and pains or allergies or migraines or sleep or any other non scale victory you hope to see during the program. So if you put it all together, it sounds like this, Oh, I’m doing this 30 day self experiment right now to help me figure out which foods have been firing up my cravings. Man. I feel like every night after dinner I am prowling through the pantry and I can’t really stop and it makes me feel really out of control with my food. I’m hoping after this experiment I have some new nighttime habits. I no longer feel the need for something sweet at 10:00 PM and hopefully all sleep better, which will make waking up in the morning to work out so much easier.

MU: 08:18 You can also keep it way shorter. So something like, I’m not eating gluten right now. Actually, I think it might be related to my seasonal allergies and they’ve been so bad lately, so I’m leaving it out for a little while just to see what happens. Or you could just say, I’m on the Whole30 right now with a big smile. You might be surprised how many people know about the program and have either done it or know someone who’s done it with great success. That might be all you need to say. Now, I’ll also say this, we feel like sometimes we owe people an explanation as to why we’re not eating what we’re eating, but I will tell you right now that you don’t, you are more than capable and I give you permission to simply say no thank you. When people offer you bread or cheese or a piece of pizza or a glass of wine, no thank you is a complete sentence.

MU: 09:11 However, based on the feedback I got on Instagram, that is easier said than done in some occasions a on Instagram said she has the most trouble in a work environment. She said, I’m often made to elaborate on why I don’t want to eat something at a work party or event. I don’t feel comfortable enough to explain my diet choices, nor do I feel it’s acceptable of them to ask, but it’s difficult to think of. No as a complete sentence with your boss or superiors. This was echoed by two others on Instagram who both said essentially the same thing. How do I handle the discomfort of sticking to my food boundaries in social situations? Now, this is a podcast about the Whole30 so I’m going to answer this question as if you are on a Whole30 my answer, if you were in your food freedom would be very, very different, but since you’re asking about holding boundaries when you’re on a program, I guess here are a few things I would recommend.

MU: 10:04 The first is that you go into your Whole30 with the understanding and the commitment that you are going to stick to the rules 100% for 30 straight days. If you go into it thinking to yourself, well, I’m just going to do the best I can and if I get stuck or if I’m in a social situation where it’s challenging, I’ll just go off plan. You’re basically setting yourself up for failure. The brain if left and out is going to revert back to what is easy and what is rewarding, so you’re going to get into that social situation. You’re going to be offered something. That’s tempting. You’re going to struggle with how to say no and hold your boundaries and you’re probably going to give it. So the first thing you need to do is make sure that you are 100% committed to the Whole30 plan that you have decided is in your highest interest.

MU: 10:51 The next thing I want you to remember is that this can be as simple as you just saying. No thank you. Honestly, we overcomplicate this all the time. You know the first person said, my coworkers make me explain, but nobody can make you explain why you don’t want the beer or aren’t going to have the glass of wine. You can simply say, no thank you. Oh, here we are at happy hour. Can I get you a beer? No, thank you. Or here is the birthday cake that’s getting passed around at the office. Do you want a piece? No, no. Thank you. If it makes you uncomfortable to just stick with no thank you. You can just say, I just don’t want any right now. Thanks. Or pizza’s not my thing, or use my line. I’m not drinking right now, thanks or I’m not drinking tonight.

MU: 11:35 Thanks, but you don’t owe anybody an explanation. And if pressed, I find that just direct eye contact and once again saying no, but thank you and changing the subject works really, really well to get your point across. The more you practice that, the easier it becomes, but it is incredibly empowering to hold your boundaries. This is in my highest interest. I am going to keep the promise that I made to myself and I’m simply going to say no thank you. Now if you choose to give an explanation and you might choose to in some situations, maybe you’re close to the person and you want to let them in on what’s going on in your life, maybe you know that they’re going to be offering again and again and again. In the case of coworkers who are traveling together for business and you just want to like set the stage for future interactions, I would handle it a couple of different ways.

MU: 12:23 The first thing you can do is explain that you are doing a dietary experiment to help you figure out X, Y, Z. We already talked about how you might pitch the Whole30 and your elevator speech. So you can say part of this experiment is so I can figure out what foods are impacting my migraines and I have to completely stay away from those foods for 30 days so I can really evaluate the impact they have on me. These migraines really affect my quality of life, so it’s very important to me to stick to the nature of this experiment. That’s why I’m not going to have even a bite of pizza right now. That’s how important this is to me. The other way you could approach this is just to frame it as this is a promise you made to yourself. You know, as tempting as that dessert looks, I made a promise to myself for 30 days that I am going to stick to the Whole30 and I’m really committed to seeing what this 30 days is going to bring me in terms of my energy, sleep, and cravings.

MU: 13:20 So as much as it’s tempting and as much as I’d love to join you, I know there’ll be plenty of opportunity after the Whole30 is over. For now I’m going to say no and keep that promise to myself. Finally, another strategy that someone actually mentioned to me, in Instagram DMS, which I thought was really, really great, is reminding the person why you’re at this social event in the first place. This works really well when you’re out with friends or family, but it can also apply when you’re out with coworkers, so you can say something like, you know, man, I came out to celebrate with you guys. We did such a great job on that project. It doesn’t really matter what’s in my glass. I can celebrate just as well without it. Or you can say something like, I came to this family dinner to catch up with you so that I could hear what’s going on in your life and share what’s going on in mind.

MU: 14:06 It doesn’t matter whether I eat the cake or not. The most important thing is I’m here with you reminding people that the social events that you’re invited to aren’t really about the food or the drink. They’re about the connection and the memories and the traditions that you’ll make together can be really important, not just for them, but also for you. The more you attend these social gatherings and realize it doesn’t matter what you cheers with, the fact is you’re there celebrating with friends and family, toasting the accomplishments of a loved one, the easier it will be to stick to your health commitments in life after your whole30. now, that kind of answers Taryn’s question. She asked me on Instagram, how do I navigate birthdays or other special occasions that historically around sweets. I actually just responded to this and a dear Melissa newsletter, someone wrote to me that her gram was celebrating her 100th birthday smack in the middle of her Whole30 and she said to me, should I make an exception for this special occasion?

MU: 15:08 Well, my answer to her was this is your gram going to feel more celebrated, more honored, more joyful? If you have cake in your belly, and the answer of course was no attending that party and celebrating that event has nothing to do with whether or not you put a bite of cake into your mouth. It is about showing up and celebrating the life of someone you care about. And I will say this, I think you think people are going to be like taking notes as to who is eating cake or not, but people aren’t gonna notice. Or if they do notice they’re not going to care. Someone passes you the cake, you just pass it on by. Someone says, do you want cake? You just say no thank you. Now if you have advanced notice of this party, and again, you’re on a Whole30 so you’re committed to holding to your Whole30 promise, then you can also offer to bring something to the event.

MU: 16:04 You can say, I would love to contribute to this party as well, and then you can bring a dish like a fruit salad, something that you can eat. Chances are there will be other people at the party who will appreciate the offering of an alternative dessert that is not so rich or sugar heavy. So that’s a win when you get to contribute something to the gathering, you get to share in the festivities with something that you are eating and you’re other guests get to enjoy what you’ve brought as well. But I think the important thing to remember is this. If you don’t know that there’s a party coming, say it’s someone’s birthday at work and a cake just shows up, you do not have to eat the cake to celebrate that person’s life. I think the more we can separate in our minds the idea of celebration or a special occasion from over consumption of sugar, the happier we will be in your food freedom.

MU: 16:51 If the cake is worth it, you’re gonna eat the cake. But I love the idea of you recognizing and feeling empowered to celebrate this event in a way that serves you best. And for me, most of the time that store-bought cake is not going to be worth it and it’s not going on my plate. And I have just as much fun and I celebrate just as hard and I’m honoring the guest of honor just as much if I skip it. Now that having been said, there will be times where your no thank you. Even if you’ve given the elevator speech at the beginning will not be enough. As you will discover anytime you open a conversation about diet, talking about the food we eat is deeply personal. I often say that diet is third only to politics and religion in terms of tricky subjects to navigate in social situations and a few of you have noticed that as well.

MU: 17:42 L on Instagram says, how do I navigate a conversation where someone is pushing their or closed minded opinions hard? This is something that’s really common, especially in social situations. Again, you will make people feel bad about what they’re doing just by doing what you do and I think it’s important to remember that that’s not necessarily a burden you have to pick up and carry. It’s not your job to make other people feel better about their dietary choices, nor is it your responsibility to explain your own. The best way to handle this is just do what you’re doing. The bigger a deal you make out of it, the more other people are going to notice and might be tempted to push back. So you know when you’re at the bar and they say, do you want a beer? You shouldn’t say something like, no, I’ve done some research and it turns out alcohol is really bad for a lot of things like sleep and NRG and hormones.

MU: 18:39 So no, I’m not drinking right now. I mean that might sound a little over the top, but we can get pretty preachy and like pretty proselytizing when we start doing something that works really, really well for us. So just because you’re in an awesome place with your Whole30 and you feel like the whole world would benefit if they also tried it now is not the optimal time to start sharing those feelings with people. However, you will run into situations where just by observing what you are or are not eating, people will make assumptions about your plan or they’ll know what you’re doing that you’re doing a Whole30 and they will start to share their own unsolicited opinion with you and they might get pretty aggressive about it because again, food is emotional and they may feel like they want to exert some control or make themselves feel better about some of their own food choices by unleashing their opinions on you.

MU: 19:36 If someone is pushing their agenda, whether it’s maybe a vegan agenda, maybe they’re doing keto and it works really well, or maybe they read a media report about how the Whole30 is the least healthy approach. The best thing to do is just keep it non-confrontational. I actually have a rule that I don’t talk about food over food, so you might just say that, look, I know there are a lot of different approaches to health and nutrition, but I have a rule that I don’t talk about food over food, so let’s just enjoy the meal and if you want to talk about it later, I would be happy to treat experiences. You could also deflect confrontation by agreeing that there is no one size fits all approach and commending them on the job. They’ve done a figuring out what works for them. So you might say something really casual like I’m so glad that you’ve found an approach that works for you.

MU: 20:22 I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but good for you and then change the subject. You really don’t want to get into this debate, especially about things like science where I feel like you can find a scientific study to back up any points. So meat is good for the environment. Meat is bad for the environment. Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad, alcohol is heart. Healthy alcohol is really bad for you. You can get into these like standoffs with people. So the best thing to do is just keep it personal, remember to go back to making it about you. You know, I’ve just figured out that alcohol does not work well for me and then change the subject and move on. All right, so let’s go back to this idea of bringing your own dish to a social gathering. I had this really great discussion with a bunch of people on Instagram about how to navigate social situations, particularly with family when they are not responsive to your dietary needs or requests.

MU: 21:18 And the context here is really important. So it’s kind of worth exploring what some of these situations might look like and some of your strategies for navigating them. So one of the things I think is most overlooked in this discussion about how to navigate social situations on the Whole30 is the simple act of having a conversation. All too often I think we just show up at social events and try to figure out how to handle them right then and there. But much of the time I find that you actually could have a conversation about how this could be handled ahead of time and if you have the convo early, then it makes navigating them effortless. So I think about this idea of being invited over to dinner with either like maybe, uh, at a friend’s house or at a family member’s house. They invite you over to dinner.

MU: 22:09 It’s so easy right then and there to say, we would love to come for dinner. I’m actually on the Whole30 right now though. Are you familiar with the program? And that opens a conversation. Maybe they say, yes, I’ve done the Whole30 and I’d be happy to make a Whole30 meal for you. Problem solved. Maybe they say, Oh, I’m not familiar with the Whole30. What does that entail? And then you can give them the option. Well, on the Whole30, I’m eating this, this and this, and I’m not eating this, this and this. You can even give them your elevator pitch at this point as to why you’re doing it and then you can make an offer. This can make cooking a little bit tricky, so I’d be happy to either bring a main dish to contribute that I know that I can eat or I’d be happy to host you at my house and give you a taste of what my Whole30 males look like.

MU: 22:55 Or if you’d rather we can meet out for dinner at vessel kitchen because you happen to know that vessel kitchen has a Whole30 compliant menu. All of these are completely valid options and what you’re doing in this situation is you’re not just dumping this on your host’s lap. Oh, I’m doing Whole30 so figure it out. What you’re saying is I can contribute to take some of the burden off you and then whatever veggie sides you happen to make or a garden salad, I’ll bring my own dress thing. We’ll be good to go. Or you take the burden off of them entirely and say that you’ll cook or you’ll meet them out to eat. That’s a really simple way of having a conversation ahead of time and making it not awkward. When you show up and they’ve made like a lasagna and you can’t eat anything, that’s like the last situation you want to be in with your Whole30 is when someone’s invited you over. You haven’t given them any heads up or warning. You decide you’re just going to wing it and then when you show up there’s absolutely nothing you can eat. That’s like worst case scenarios that you want to avoid that at all costs.

MU: 23:57 Now, as a few of you brought up on Instagram, where this gets tricky is when your host says, Oh, just tell me what you can and can’t eat and I’d be happy to accommodate. When you say something like, I’m not eating any grains or I’m not eating gluten or I’m eating dairy free, that’s not always easy to navigate. If you aren’t aware that butter equals dairy or you don’t realize that soy sauce contains gluten, so it can be really difficult if your host wants to accommodate for you to then have to say, okay, but it matters what you cook with. You can’t cook with butter and also the soy sauce has to be swapped out. So in this situation you might want to thank them so much for their attention to detail and make a couple offers. You could say, what were you planning on making and just listen and hear and say, that sounds perfect.

MU: 24:46 As long as you cook with olive oil instead of butter, I am good to go in this situation or just don’t add cheese to the salad and I’m perfect. You could also say, Oh you were planning on making wings. I have an awesome Whole30 version of wings if you want me to send it to you, I’d be happy to. This probably won’t work if you’re going to dinner at your boss’s house, but if it’s your mom, mom, you are planning on making your spaghetti and meatballs. There’s a Whole30 version. That is awesome. And I bet if you put your special touch with herbs and spices on it, it would be almost as good as the stuff you make. Are you willing to try it for me? So again, keep in mind the social situation, how well you know the person and the kind of event that it is.

MU: 25:25 But having communication ahead of time is going to be the key to making social situations easier on the Whole30 if it’s some kind of an event, not dinner. Like if I invite you over for dinner, I don’t expect you to bring your own dinner, but if I invite you over for a book club meeting or a potluck or some kind of party or gathering, perfectly acceptable for you to bring a dish so you can say to your host, I would love to come. I’m on the Whole30 right now, so I would love to bring a dish with me. Now here’s where a little planning and prep comes in really handy. You want to make sure that you bring a dish that not only you can eat but that other guests are going to want to eat and say how delicious it is because this is how you share.

MU: 26:05 That Whole30 is not some miserable deprive diet, but you also want to bring something that is Hardy enough that it would tide you over in case there is nothing else there for you to eat and bonus. If you know that family or friends are a little bit skeptical of this crazy Whole30 diet you’re on, I’m making quotey fingers all over the place. Pick something that looks familiar enough that they’re not even going to notice that you happen to bring a Whole30 version. We have a number of these kinds of recipes in the Whole30 Friends and Family. Here are some of my favorite picks. If it’s a barbecue or outside cookout type of event, you could bring the chicken burgers and the pina colada Cole slaw from the kid friendly dinner. Burgers and coleslaw. Totally normal. This happens to be a really cool Whole30 take.

MU: 26:53 If it’s a family event on a Sunday where people are watching other people throw or kick or catch a ball, you could bring the bacon wrapped turkey jalapeno poppers or the lime garlic hot wings with green chili sauce. Both of those are from the game day menu. And for any potluck you could show up with the green chili pulled pork and the smoky roasted cauliflower garlic dip from church picnic and everyone would be psyched. And if you want to be really inclusive, you can bring chopped veggies and tortilla chips to dip in the dip as long as there’s an option there that is Whole30 compliant and that fills you up in case there’s nothing else you can eat, you are winning. Going back to the idea of having conversations though, sometimes you will be stuck in a situation where your only option is breaking the Whole30 to eat something that someone made specifically for you and turning it down and hurting someone’s feelings.

MU: 27:51 This happens the most often with really close family members, and I’m gonna say like moms and mother-in-law’s the most and it’s not the easiest situation to be in. What you have to evaluate here for yourself is what is more important to you, holding to your Whole30 commitment and just being really Frank and personal and transparent with the person as to why you are turning down their beloved whatever dish it is or are you just not willing to accept the consequences of hurting their feelings to such a degree, and I can’t answer that for you and I don’t think there’s a one size fits all. I will say this. However, if holding to your Whole30 commitment is really important to you for whatever reason, maybe it’s because you don’t want to break another promise to yourself. Maybe it’s because you’re seeing such tremendous benefit from the Whole30 and you really don’t want to slow that momentum or take the risk that something you’re going to reintroduce early is going to have a negative impact.

MU: 28:51 Whatever the reason, if you choose not to eat that thing that they provided, be very complimentary, be very apologetic, but also be very clear, these are my boundaries. Unfortunately, I’m not going to eat this at this time. Here are the deeply personal reasons why I’m turning it down. I know because you love me that you only want what’s best for me and in this moment holding to my Whole30 commitment is what serves my highest good. I will also say this, these situations are very few and far between on the Whole30 like I’m talking about your grandmother showing up at your doorstep with her homemade Apple pie that she only makes once a year. It can be very easy to talk yourself out of sticking to your Whole30 commitment because you’re in a little of a difficult social situation, but like your mom bringing you over the store bought donuts.

MU: 29:47 That does not count as a very special occasion. Your coworker leaving a Cadbury Creme Egg on your desk because it’s Easter. That does not count and believe me, I love Cadbury Creme Eggs, but that is not the point. We are only talking about very specific situations in which it’s a really special thing brought to you by a really special person who has made this just for you and you happen to be on a Whole30 you know, if this were a food freedom conversation, obviously it would be very, very different. But I don’t want you to like cop out on your Whole30 commitment the first time a challenging social situation comes up. The whole point of the Whole30 is to get you to food freedom and in your food freedom you may decide for yourself that there are some things that no longer serve you, maybe gluten, maybe dairy, maybe alcohol.

MU: 30:36 You will need to know how to hold your boundaries around your own self care and what is best for you outside of the rules of the Whole30 like if you’re on the Whole30 this is actually way easier because your throwback, your default is just I’m on the Whole30 those are the rules in your food freedom, you don’t have that. So the more you can practice holding your boundaries and practicing self care by sticking to your Whole30 commitment during the actual 30 days of the program, the more comfortable you’ll be holding these boundaries and your food freedom. Okay. That was a little bit of a digression, but I think an important one, going back to these really unique special circumstances. However, I do think having a conversation ahead of time as often as is possible can be helpful here too. Here’s one example.

MU: 31:25 I knew my mom was coming to visit a couple years ago and almost always when she visits, she brings with her either some hermits, which are these like gingerbread cookies that I love from my childhood or when she gets to my house, she will sneakily, like when I’m at the gym, bake me a chocolate chip Walnut cake, which is again my favorite cake from childhood. I decided to set the expectation ahead of time before she showed up. So on the phone before she arrived, I said to her, Hey mom, I just want to let you know that I’m on the Whole30 right now and as much as I hate to miss your famous hermits or chocolate chip Walnut cake, neither of those are something that I’m eating right now, but the chicken wings you make that I love so much, I can absolutely make those Whole30 compliant if we just swap your soy sauce out for my coconut aminos.

MU: 32:12 So can we make that together when you get here instead? So ahead of time? I set the expectation. I made sure that there weren’t any hurt feelings when she got on site and offered me her hermits and I offered to have another shared food experience with her with something that I knew I would be able to eat. Problem solved. I did have another situation though in which she just showed up with her meds and I forgot to warn her. I was doing a Whole30 and I had to say to her, mom, I’m so appreciative that you made these but I’m not going to eat them right now because it’s really important for me to finish out this Whole30 I’m going to throw them in the freezer and I know what I’m going to be re-introducing when it’s time to reintroduce gluten grains and that’s exactly what I did. I gave a couple of them to friends who happened to be visiting. I threw one or two in the freezer and I enjoyed them in my food freedom.

MU: 33:07 One last thing before we move on, I want to reemphasize that all of this advice and this entire podcast is contextualized around you have already committed to the Whole30 if you remove that context and you just jump into this discussion, you might be thinking, wow, that is way too restrictive, or like, one cookie isn’t going to hurt. You have to remember that this is the context in which you committed to 30 days of the Whole30 this self experiment designed to help you figure out how foods work for you and all I’m saying is for those 30 days it is important to keep that promise to yourself in your food freedom. Eat cookies every single time your mom shows up. I know when my mom brings hermits, I never turn them down. They are always worth it. Always. Sometimes one, sometimes five. Who knows?

MU: 33:56 I’ll leave it open and decide in the moment, but my point is if you’re listening to this podcast, listening to my tips about navigating healthy choices with friends and family, I’m really talking about the Whole30 here. I am not referring to what you should be doing outside of the program in your food freedom. That conversation is a whole different podcast. All right. The last question I want to address came from Brianna on Instagram and she said, how do you not feel deprived when everyone around you is eating all the things? Oh boy. Brianna, I can relate to this. Let me tell you a story. It was probably, Oh I don’t know, 2012, 2013 I was a few years into my Whole30 journey, so I had done the program a couple of times. I was brutally aware of how dairy impacts me. I now understood thanks to several whole thirties that dairy in particular like soft cheeses, goat cheese, ice cream, really makes my stomach unhappy like to the point where it is almost never worth it.

MU: 34:59 So thanks to the Whole30 I knew that and I was able to eliminate all of those symptoms. The breakouts, the gastric distress by just avoiding dairy. No big deal. So it’s summer time. I’m out walking around in Santa Monica, I’m on the Santa Monica pier and a mother and her daughter walked by eating ice cream cones. It’s a beautiful sunny day. They’re walking by eating their ice cream cones and I got this irrational like jealousy and anger. I looked at them and I thought it must be so nice to be able to eat whatever you want and like not worry about it and not care. I was so mad. I kind of joke that whole thirties on official tagline is like awareness as a bitch because it kind of is. Except after I really thought about it for a minute, I realized I’m glad that I know how these foods impact me because now I get to make a conscious, deliberate choice about exactly how good I want to look and feel.

MU: 35:58 And if I decide to eat ice cream, I’m going to eat it. I will pay the consequences. But like if I decide it’s worth it, it’s worth it. So I understand the idea of like, it’s not fair that other people get to eat what, whatever they want to eat. But I’m gonna say this, Brianna, before you did the Whole30 you ate whatever you wanted to eat. And I guess my question is how did that work out for you? Cause when I ate whatever I wanted to eat without understanding or thinking about it or conscientiousness based around what I know did and didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel as good as I feel now. My energy wasn’t as good. My sleep wasn’t as good, my skin wasn’t as clear. My mood wasn’t as stable. My performance in the gym wasn’t as good. My recovery was slower.

MU: 36:44 So when I think about it that way, this idea of watching people who eat whatever they want without thinking about it, I’m not actually super jealous of that because I know when I was doing that, it didn’t work really well for me. By the way. My cravings were also way more intense when I was eating whatever I wanted without conscious thought, which is a huge reason why many of you come to the Whole30 so in the moment, yes I understand this idea of jealousy or wishing that you could just eat whatever you wanted and it wouldn’t have a negative consequence, but that’s not how the world works. If you do see people eating whatever they want without negative consequences because they’ve done multiple whole thirties and they know exactly how much they can get away with in their food freedom and still look and feel exactly as good as they want to look and feel.

MU: 37:34 So when you’re thinking about the Whole30 and that commitment to yourself that you are going to do this self experiment for 30 days, I really want you to think about what you’re gonna get at the end of it. You will have the path to true food freedom for you. That is what these 30 days are going to bring you. This incredible amount of awareness around how foods work for you as an individual. All of this information about whether foods are going to be worth it or not worth it for you and your food freedom. You will have the blueprint to take what you’ve learned in just those 30 days while technically 45 because we are doing a proper reintroduction, but you’ll take what you’ve learned over that 45 day period and you will be able to apply it to the rest of your life so that you can, as I do at this point now look and feel exactly as good as I want to look and feel.

MU: 38:31 Eating a diet that feels sustainable and balanced and and joyful for me, one where I don’t ever feel deprived because if it’s worth it, it’s worth it. So when you’re at that party looking around at people eating the store bought birthday cake that you have had a million times that you know you only kind of enjoy and you think, boy, I wish I could be eating that. I want you to pause for a minute and think about what you’re in the middle of right now. You are in the middle of the most important self experiment you will do in this lifetime learning how food impacts you so you can create the perfect food freedom plan for you. And to me that doesn’t sound like deprivation. That sounds like a commitment to your own self care to the highest degree, this 30 day experiment where you are keeping your promise to yourself, holding your boundaries, figuring out how to love yourself so hard in challenging stressful situations and then reaping the benefits for the rest of your life. Hopefully that mindset shift will help you more easily pass on that store. Bought cake and enjoy the social situation for what it is, the connection, the tradition and the memories that you make together and bonus. Go ahead and eat some of those citrusy watermelon, strawberry shortcakes with orange and vanilla infused whipped coconut cream cause yeah, you planned and prepared. You’ll find that one on page 149 of the Whole30 Friends and Family. And with that we are wrapping up season one of Do the Thing.

MU: 40:06 I can’t thank you enough for listening, sending me your feedback, providing me your ideas and helping me fill the contents of these Dear Melissa episodes, which are some of my favorite. I look forward to a short hiatus to promote the Whole30 Friends and Family and then I’ll be back just before January with season two just in time to kick off the January Whole30. If you enjoyed this episode, you will love the recipes and menus in the new Whole30 Friends and Family available today wherever books are sold. For information, visit whole30.com/friends-family, or order or pickup at your local bookstore.


Thanks for listening!

Continue the conversation with me at @melissau on Instagram. If you have a question for Dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480.

Do the Thing is part of ‘The Onward Project,’ a family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin—all about how to make your life better. Check out the other Onward Project podcasts– Happier with Gretchen RubinSide Hustle School, and Happier in Hollywood.

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