Dear Melissa,

I’ve been reading Food Freedom Forever, because I’m determined to maintain my healthy balance this holiday season. I love the idea of mini-resets thrown in between parties and events to keep me on track, but do I really need to follow ALL the Whole30 rules during these? It would be nice to eat my favorite maple chicken sausage or not worry about white rice on my sushi, and I know from past Whole30’s these things don’t impact me negatively. So, can I relax on my mini-reset? –Jessica, Vancouver BC

Dear Jessica,

The short answer is, “No, you can’t relax the rules of a mini-reset.” Every Whole30 (mini or full) you complete must follow the rules 100%, or it’s not really the Whole30, now, is it? This means even if you think Splenda doesn’t impact you one bit, you still need to leave it out of your next Whole30 program.

If you’re cool with this, we can be done here. (Sometimes it’s really just that easy, and you probably already knew the answer, didn’t you?) But if you still need convincing, here are my reasons:

Keep it Black and White

First, habit research shows that black and white rules are actually easier for the brain to follow. Eating NO added sugar is way easier than eating LESS or SOME added sugar, because it takes the tough (willpower-depleting) decision out of your hands; if there’s added sugar, it’s out. And “less” or “some” is a slippery slope: If you justify the maple in your chicken sausage, why not the maple syrup drizzled over your bowl of berries after dinner? During the holidays when temptations are everywhere, you don’t even want to consider taking that first step towards Sugar City. (Same for rice, or gluten-free oats, or heavy cream in your coffee—if you’re okay with that, why not whipped heavy cream on those maple-topped berries… and if whipped cream on berries is okay, why not in a donut… you see where this is going.)

Keep Your Self-Confidence High

Even if you truly believe the maple in your chicken sausage ain’t no thing, your brain will know that you committed to the Whole30, but you’re half-assing it. And that can lead to guilt, self-confidence issues, and feelings of defensiveness when friends ask, “Wait, aren’t you doing a mini-reset?” while you fork a bite of their pancake over brunch. Maintain your integrity in this, and watch your self-confidence skyrocket when faced with sweets and treats at your next holiday party. Fail to honor the commitment you know you want to make to yourself, and run the risk of “I couldn’t even stick to a true Whole30 for three whole days, so what the hell (insert six holiday cookies into your face-hole).”

Keep Your Body at its Healthiest

You also may not actually be aware of the subtle physical, psychological, or emotional negative effects of certain foods, especially if you’re new-ish to the Whole30. You may think a little sugar, white rice, or heavy cream won’t impact you, but there could be an impact you just aren’t seeing yet, or a cumulative effect that you have yet to pinpoint. And that could add up to cravings, over-consumption (especially of “approved” sweets like nut butters or RxBars), or lack of motivation for other healthy habits, like going to the gym or going to bed early. Don’t take any chances here. You know the reset works to make you look and feel your best. So JUST DO IT.

In Summary

If the point of a mini-reset is to prepare you for the onslaught of temptation, pressure from social situations, and a raging Sugar Dragon, don’t let anything in the gates that might turn out to weaken your commitment to the Food Freedom plan from the inside-out. Commit 100% to your Whole30 or chosen method of reset (see Chapter 4 in Food Freedom Forever), look and feel your best, and head to your next holiday event happy, healthy, and confident in your plan.

Best in holiday health,
Melissa


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 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; Food Freedom Foreverand The Whole30 Cookbook (coming December 6, 2016). She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, 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