Dear Melissa,
How do I handle my friends who are “doing the Whole30” but still drinking wine on the weekends? – B., via Instagram

Dear B,

I’ll open with this: the only person you are responsible for here is you. The only Whole30 you are responsible for here is yours. The only person’s business you belong in here is your own. That having been said …

Don’t waste your time policing others

There are a few potential scenarios here. First, are you certain they’re not following the rules 100% (because you observed it, or they told you about it)? If you just suspect and they haven’t asked you for advice or help, this is not your business, so your work here is done. Navigating your own Whole30 is effort enough, so don’t waste your time or energy trying to police others.

Second, if you have observed them going off-plan or they told you they did, BUT they’re being honest about it (“I’m kind of doing the Whole30; we’re following the rules but still drinking wine on the weekend”), then the most effective approach is to encourage or inspire them instead of calling them out. Saying, “Then that’s not the Whole30, is it?” will only put them on the defensive.

Instead, try something like, “Man, I really wish you guys would just go all in; cleaning up that last 10% honestly makes a huge difference,” or “But at the end, don’t you want to be able to say you completed the Whole30? It’s such an empowering thing, I want you to have that feeling!”

Encourage and inspire, don’t shame

In Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies parlance, you can appeal to their Obliger (people-pleasing) tendencies by saying, “You said you’d do the Whole30 with me. This was a commitment we made together. You owe it to yourself AND me to do the program 100%.” If you’re close friends or the person has Rebel tendencies, you could also try some tough love, like, “Come on, you guys are total badasses! Don’t tell me you’re letting WINE call the shots here?”

The final carrot you can offer is this: “If you want to start over and do it 100% by the books, I’ll even extend my program so we can finish together.”

However, if they are drinking wine AND still claiming to be doing the actual Whole30, then your response depends on the kind of friend they are. If they’re people you can speak to plainly, I’d just say, “If you’re drinking wine, you’re not actually doing the Whole30,” and see what they say.

You could also add, “Saying you are when you’re not takes away from MY hard work and effort to follow the program 100%.” Or, you could also try a more humorous approach, like, “Huh, I didn’t realize the Whole30 allowed Sauv Blanc on Saturdays. Did the rules change?” I like this because it lets them know YOU know they’re not really doing the program, but leaves the ball in their court.

Or, if they’re someone you don’t know well, you can always give them the benefit of the doubt: “Oh, maybe you’re new to the program, but the Whole30 is actually zero alcohol for 30 straight days, no exceptions. I’d hate for you to miss some of the rules and not be able to say you did it 100%.”

Stay in your lane (and reap the rewards)

All of that having been said … in the end, I’ll go back to the first paragraph above. Their Whole30 is none of your business, and the only person you are responsible for here is you. If they ask you for help or advice, by all means, weigh in using one of the above strategies. But at the end of the day, focus your time, energy, and emotional effort on YOUR journey. They have their own path to walk, so stay in your lane and make THIS Whole30 the best one ever for YOU.

Best in health,

Got a question for Melissa? Submit it here.

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 Hartwig is a Certified Sports Nutritionist, and a 5-time New York Times bestselling author (It Starts With Food; The Whole30; Food Freedom Forever; The Whole30 Cookbook; The Whole30 Day by Day; and The Whole30 Fast and Easy Cookbook). She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, 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