I went to a wedding yesterday. I wore a tuxedo and took a picture when I saw a fancy mirror. Tell me that’s not the fanciest bathroom selfie you’ve ever seen. I listened to my friend sincerely and methodically explain that gluten free, and by not so subtle extension, my entire Whole30 diet, was bullshit. This happened as she dined on wine-marinated steak and rigatoni alfredo and I smiled at her over my empty plate.
So, what if mild food allergies are bullshit? What if when people take something out of their diet and feel better for it, it’s just psychosomatic? Well, for one thing, while gluten free still does get a lot of pushback, even my friend couldn’t disagree that excising refined sugars and fried foods would lead to life improvements. Even still, that’s not the only benefit.
I will be the first to tell you that I love food. I enjoy making it and eating it, and I hate to waste it. I have a bit of a careless relationship with food that represents a relationship I have with many things that I like. Let’s call it a Netflix relationship. When I see what could be a good Netflix show, I want to try it. If I like it, I want to consume all of it, and I usually do within several days. The same goes with food, although in that case I’m just consuming what I’ve put on my plate and over several minutes, thank goodness.
This is a more intentional relationship with food than I’ve ever had. I cook relatively healthfully at home, but it takes very little to convince me that each time I get a pizza or order out chinese food it’s an individual event that somehow lays outside the wholesome diet that at all other times defines what I eat. If I had to estimate, in my normal diet I think I would make such a rare exception about twice a week.
Whole30 allows no rare exceptions. If you cheat, your diet is over, and you either give up or start over from the beginning. Even on a special occasion, where I ordinarily could easily convince myself that I would never see food exactly like this again and that to not eat some would be a missed life opportunity, Whole30 brooks no dispute.
Whole30 forces me to ask a question I have been avoiding. What am I willing to give up to live the life I want? In Whole30, you can’t have everything. In fact, you can have almost nothing. What do you gain by losing so much?
You learn how little you really need. That’s a lot.