Otherwise known as “why I will never do a Whole 30″…and other things.

It’s going to take me a few days to get to posting about recipes.  Things are still in upheaval in Knitterland.  I have a (hopefully) delicious chili bubbling away in the slow cooker today, so nice and paleo.  Might go for primal and add some cheddar, but I might choose to do without it today.  I tried doing it a different way than normal – instead of browning the meat first, I just put it in the crock pot raw.  Someone suggested this for a ragù recipe and I thought it could translate to chili easily enough.  I would imagine the meat might be more tender since it won’t have had time to get all “pellety” in the frying pan.  I will find out soon!  It might be my first bit of food porn on this site – stay tuned for this, and other interesting food!

So, onto the topic…I believe challenges are good for the soul.  It keeps us competitive, gives us an edge, and something to shoot for.  However, life is not predictable.  I joined a friend in doing an informal “30 day challenge” at the beginning of this year.  For two weeks, it went swimmingly.  Then there was a very sudden death in the family.  I was absolutely in no control over what food would be available to me over the next few days.  I did not use it as a time to splurge and eat badly, but I could only do the best I could.  I ate lunch meat rollups, meatballs, and some chicken breast, but in order to be fair to others I had to have some of the pasta too.  I tried to do another 30 day challenge about a month later and I got a kidney stone.  (Word to the wise – do not attempt to eat a bag of raw spinach in one week unless you want to feel like you have a tiny little dwarf parading down your urinary tract while stabbing your insides with a white hot poker.)

While I don’t truly believe that any challenge will precipitate personal disaster, it made me realize how little control we have over life.  Food is something I want to take more control over, but I will not let it control me.  I do see a big difference between an informal personal challenge, and a Whole 30.  Whole 30 is a fantastic idea in theory; I support their ideas and what they are trying to accomplish.  What bothers me is the amount of people around the internet that put stock into the idea that they MUST complete a Whole 30 to be “doing it right”.  The notion that the tiniest slip up means YOU FAILED WHOLE 30 is far too punishing.  It can get you into a very negative state of mind.  I admire people who can do it, but it’s not for me.

I much prefer the 80-20 Principle, which means you should shoot for perfection 80% of the time in any given day.  This does NOT mean (to me, anyway) that 20% of the day can or should be blown on bad choices.  Merely, if you have to eat out and you choose the salad with meat, you might be stuck with a dressing that is made with soybean oil and lunchmeats which might contain sugar.  Eat the damn salad, and move on.  If you did the BEST you could in the given circumstances, no one should have to feel badly for that.  If life is getting you down and you desperately need a bowl of ice cream…20%.  Just don’t make a habit of it. Apply this principle to daily/weekly/monthly challenges and see how that makes you feel.  If you do a personal 30 day challenge, having a bad day doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it means you’ve succeeded all the other days so far, and will try to succeed the rest of the time.  One or two bad days out of a month is still an amazing success!

I choose this lifestyle because it makes me feel good.  I will not let food have the control over me to make me feel badly about myself – all that does, to my mind, is reinforce a negative relationship with food, which will have a hand in writing a one-way ticket back to the Standard American Diet, or worse, complete gluttony.