“Eat these perfect foods for 30 days straight! And if you aren’t perfect, you have to start over again on day 1.”
Imagine being a 5 year old and reading a page in a book. You are only allowed to continue to the next sentence if you read the 1st sentence perfectly, but every time you get to a word with the short vowel e, you keep messing it up! The only guidance your teacher is giving you is, “Start over.” So when you get to it again, you mess up. She isn’t teaching you how to sound out the freaking letter. If she would just help you with this letter, you would learn a lesson and move on.
Whole30 doesn’t teach us how to actually handle:
-how our body will binge eat after a period of restriction
-candy at the office
-going to a restaurant
-traveling to another country
Whole30 says, “Hey. Just be compliant. Follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules, it is because of a lack of self control. Start over again and be perfect.”
And I subscribed to this, until I realized after 4 or 5 rounds that it was Whole30 that was messing me up, and I needed another way. Something that was personal to me and wasn’t so restrictive.
I found that when I was going out to eat while doing Whole30, I was so nervous. I was afraid of the canola oil on the grill. I was afraid of the sugar in my balsamic dressing. And I was pissed when I would spend $14 for a burger with no bun and couldn’t eat any sides. I missed out on a lot of social gatherings because I was afraid of the food there.
When I quit Whole30, these feelings didn’t magically go away. I had to practice how I wanted to feel at a restaurant.
My goal shifted from having a perfect body and attaining perfect health
feeling normal and relaxed…
and not micromanaging every situation with food.
So while diet coaches will make a blanket statement and tell you to go out to eat less often,
Go out to restaurants where you can enjoy the experience with food.
And that’s our goal with this little challenge.
We are going to checkout all the different neighborhoods in Chicago to EXPERIENCE all the different kinds of food.
That means there will be canola oil, there will be sugar, and there will be gluten. And I will survive.
In checking out restaurants on yelp,
I am looking for foods that I want to eat,
not food that I “am allowed to eat.”
I am allowed to eat any foods I want.
Even greasy french fries. If they’re good, and I am enjoying the experience!
While Whole30 suggests asking the question, “Is this worth it?”
I suggest asking the question, “How can I best enjoy this food experience?”
That means that if I am eating greasy french fries,
I am not constantly berating myself,
“Jaclyn, is this really worth it? Do you really want to be doing this? What’s wrong with you?”
But instead, assuming that I do take care of myself always.
Trusting myself. The way to practice trust is to trust. So I assume I trust myself.
I trust my hunger. I trust my taste buds. AND IMPORTANT TOO: I listen to my fullness.
Meaning, just because I order greasy french fries,
it doesn’t mean I ignore my fullness, eat the whole plate because it is there,
and join the #cleanplateclub.
Trusting hunger and listening to fullness takes time. It takes practice.
And the only way to “get it” is to actually practice it.
Meaning, #imperfecteating, there are going to be times it is imperfect and you eat beyond fullness.
Sometimes people think that when you start imperfect eating, you should just be able to do it perfectly. Which isn’t true. And why I named it IMPERFECT EATING. There are going to be times you “mess up” and that’s part of the process. In the past, that was demonized and you had to start over. And now messing up means you’re doing it right. You’re accepting imperfections along the way.
A 5 year old makes mistakes as they learn to read. We don’t tell them to start over because of a mistake.
We become aware of the mistake, that becomes a teaching point, and we teach so they can learn!
Remember that time we were in Thailand and I ate too much rice at a Korean restaurant! Oops. Life moves on. We LEARN from the shit we mess up.
Teaching points here are- 1. Slow down 2. Listen to fullness!
It took us some time to decide where to go, and I knew it was a 30 minute drive, and we would have to wait for our food. I hate feeling starving before starting a meal
because I get really restless and it’s hard to have a pleasant conversation or EXPERIENCE the food,
so I had a snack while we were looking for where to eat.
We decided to try Tesfa Cuisine in Uptown on the northeast side of Chicago. It is a small Ethiopian restaurant. I used to work in Uptown about 10 years ago at the Boys and Girls Club, so it was great to go back!
When we talk about EXPERIENCE with food, yay! This was an experience. When I gained weight 6 years ago, it was because I wasn’t experiencing food. I was just stuffing my face and not even tasting what I was eating.
Imperfect Eating is about ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE and feeling at E.A.S.E. More on that in a bit.
Following the 3Ps (plants, protein, and processed) is a bit hard to do always and also RIDICULOUS TO TRY TO DO ALWAYS. (HI, imperfect eating, not perfect eating.)
Additionally, tracking macros, counting WW points, counting calories, using color coded containers, or asking them to only use coconut oil and Whole30 compliant ingredients would have been ridiculous.
The only tool we will ALWAYS HAVE to tell us how much to eat is our body.
it’s just that we’ve been taught for so long to not trust our body.
I say, practice trusting your body.
Here’s the food we got.
Here’s the food left when we were done with the meal.
Clean Plate Club never helps us.
Listening to fullness cues helps us.
So how does one go out to eat after Whole30?
Use the E.A.S.E. method.
Ask yourself, “What food do I really want to eat?”
Ask, “How can I fully enjoy the EXPERIENCE of this meal?”
Think of Experience Vs. Mindless. Enjoy the meal. Eat slowly. Taste what you’re eating. Chew. These are some really basic things, but sometimes we need the reminder.
As you’re eating and the thoughts pop up, “Oh no, this isn’t perfect. I am a bad person!”
Practice thinking about, “Am I ADDING health? OR am I adding stress? How can I eat this food in a way that adds health and not stress?”
As you’re eating, remember that you want to feel SATISFIED and not continuously searching when the meal is done. That means you’re allowed to eat. You’re allowed to experience being full.
As you’re eating, remember that you want to feel ENERGIZED and not sluggish at the end of the meal. While we don’t want to be hungry when a meal is done, it’s also not really fun to feel super tired and like you need to unbutton your pants. That might mean, that when eating a heavy food, you need to eat a little bit slower. Drink water. The food will always be allowed, you don’t have to worry about it not being allowed next week, but the feeling of feeling like crap at the end of a meal isn’t fun. (p.s. It will happen from time to time. Messy practice. But practicing what it’s like to go out to eat and still feel good will help you in the long run. It IS possible to feel good after any type of food.)
We LOVED the restaurant. The steak and lamb were our favorites. And I could eat lentils or chickpeas every day. I have no idea how many calories were in this meal, and I left without needing to unbutton my pants. Success.
Wanna learn to eat at a restaurant and feel good about the decision?
Make sure to checkout my Intro to Imperfect Eating: a 3 Week Starter Course.