I’ve changed my position on oil (and here’s why)
Yep, you read that right.
I’ve changed my position on oil.
But before you jump down to leave a comment – read the next few lines okay? Please?
The plant-based community puts a lot of pressure on being perfect.
There’s this attitude that if there is anything wrong, it’s your fault for not being perfect.
If you weren’t losing weight, for example, it’s because you weren’t being perfect. You were eating oil, or sugar, or too many nuts, or not enough greens, or cheese.
But here’s the truth: Being perfect doesn’t guarantee you’ll lose weight.
Or feel superhuman.
Eating a healthy diet might tilt the scales in your favor or make those outcomes more likely, but there’s still no 100% guarantee.
With weight-loss, for example, you can eat as perfect as possible but sabotage yourself with your behavior like I did. (You can read how the plant-based diet made me an overeater here.)
In fact, if I learned anything from researching Shortcut to Slim, it’s that behavior modification is the MOST effective strategy when it comes to weight-loss. That’s why I only teach behavior modification and cognitive therapy as part of the Slim Team Training Program (Meal Mentor’s official weight-loss program). There is literally no “diet plan” because you can’t be on a diet plan forever, but you can definitely learn to sit down when you eat.
But I’ve digressed...
Here’s my deal with oil:
A member having difficulty losing weight asked if it was because of the hidden oils, saying she used store-bought hummus and whole-wheat tortillas that contained oil.
Here was my reply:
"Oil doesn't do you any favors, but it's more likely that the hummus and tortillas you are buying are very high in calories, cutting away at your caloric deficit – the one and only thing you need to lose weight. You might want to try buying whatever is the lowest in calories."
A few years ago I would have told her yes. I would have told her using items that contained some oil or not being “100% WFPBNO” was EXACTLY why she wasn’t losing. But now I know that’s NOT true.
Here’s the truth: You could lose weight on any diet, even an all tequila and cupcake diet, so long as a calorie deficit exists.
Granted, you might feel like garbage, and your 'diet' might put yourself at a higher risk for other health issues like hypertension or cirrhosis, which is why I still advocate a whole foods, plant-centered diet. (Might as well stack the odds in your favor...)
Then, too, not all calories satiate the same way or “absorb” the same way or have the same nutritional quality, so it’s not a straight calorie math formula anyway (more info here).
We all know a home-cooked meal is healthier than take-out or convenience foods.
Knowledge isn’t the problem, it’s the application. We can know and want (really, really want!) but we still have to DO.
Success with the plant-based diet is more important than ideology.
Taking one step toward the finish line is more important than taking no steps at all because we can’t run the full 26.2 miles today.
We have to stop beating ourselves over the head for not toeing the line perfectly.
We have to stop beating each other up for not toeing the line perfectly.
THIS is why I preach “Progress not Perfection.”
Success is defined as doing the very best you can in the circumstances you are in.
Do what you can… “Make it Work.”
Please, please, please…
Don’t hold someone else to your personal standards of perfection.
And please, please, please don’t set standards for yourself you can’t reasonably live up to.
It’s great to have goals, but your goals shouldn’t be a moral measuring stick.
You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself when you don’t fly over the bar or when you’re only halfway there because halfway = still on the way.
Change, even good-for-you change, is really, really hard for most folks.
It is incredibly difficult to switch to a plant-centered diet.
It is incredibly difficult to start new routines and new habits like cooking for yourself.
Worth it? Absolutely! But that doesn’t make it less difficult to change the way you live in every way or to uproot habits that have been cemented for decades. It’s still hard!
Sometimes you need to take shortcuts.
And I’m here to tell you that it is OKAY if it’s helping you get where you want to go.
Like learning to ride a bike with training wheels.
And sometimes you need a little help or direction.
Like wearing a flotation device when you’re not yet a strong swimmer.
I struggled to the point of tears trying to do it all, all at once. I burned out, failed, then started the cycle over. And over.
I finally hit my stride when I started using the meal plans. I need the directing and the variety.
I also could never give up the pure convenience of never having to plan our meals or make lists again...that helping hand has been worth its weight in gold.
Whenever I try to “wing it”, I always end up more stressed and overwhelmed. This has been true with EVERYTHING in my life. Changing my lifestyle and diet was no different.
If you’ve struggled to change your diet or be 100% plant-based or vegan or just clean up your diet and eat better, you are definitely not alone.
It is incredibly difficult (and having a solid direction to move in definitely helps).
Set a specific goal like “I will cook 1 meal for my family this week” and then do whatever it takes to make that happen.
If “getting there” this week means you make a vegetable wrap with a white tortilla, store-bought hummus, and a conventional bell pepper, you’re doing fabulous.
In a perfect world or your utopia, you may have bought whole-wheat or made your own oil-free hummus or grew the bell pepper yourself in an organic garden, and you know what? That’s wonderfully aspirational but not possible today!! What you did TODAY was 1000x better than stopping at McDonald’s or eating a frozen vegan burrito.
“Just keep swimming” as Dory says. Progress not Perfection.
Admittedly, I lean on a lot on convenience items like canned beans, jars of sauce, store-bought hummus, pre-diced onions, and bottled enchilada sauce because it's better I do that to make the meal plans and batch cooking realistic, than give up and order take-out every night.
I'll never likely get to a place where I can grow my own vegetables and make everything from scratch. (And I’m not sure I’d WANT to do all that anyway! Sorry!)
I am hugely inspired by DIYers and I’ve definitely become better about making a lot of stuff from scratch myself, but most days it’s just a struggle to find time to take a shower.
I’m doing the best I can, and sure, I want to improve and I believe with time I will. I have 10 years behind me to prove that truth. It’s very much a PROCESS.
Do the best you can. Work your Progress not Perfection.
Get good food on the table – even if it has a little oil and requires “semi homemade” shortcuts.
When we eat healthier we feel healthier, and when we feel healthier we are more likely to keep making good choices. So do whatever it takes to get you to make more good choices.
When I stopped thinking about eating differently “someday” and actually did it, I noticed changes everywhere.
You absolutely deserve to feel incredible too.
But here’s the real deal: You can’t ever wait for the perfect time or the perfect moment or until you get your ducks in a row. They’re ducks, they don’t toe the line either.
There is never a “good time” to start anything, just the time you start.
It’s hard as hell, but try anyway. And don’t apologize for doing whatever it takes to get you to the party. It just matters that you showed up. You can take a different route next week.
Finally (because I always feel I have to be super clear) I don’t cook with oil or have it in my home. And if an oil-free brand is an option, I’ll buy it, just like I’ll choose “no salt added” over regular, and I’ll buy organic if it’s offered or within my budget. I'm not pro GMO or pro conventional food, or pro carrageenan, or pro BPA, or pro oil. If I'm pro anything, I'm pro people eating better, whatever that looks like for them.
I’m not here to judge and you shouldn’t be either.
"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing, because you can do only a little."
P.S. Annual Meal Plan Premium Memberships are on sale Wednesday, September 7th for ONE DAY ONLY! Get on the free newsletter to get the reminder
Updated: The meal plans are definitely not changing, nor are my recipes. They'll still be plant-based, oil-free. I'm just letting you know I want you to do whatever you can to change your life and eat better. I say with zero hesitation that the very experts who promote WFPBNO are not 100% compliant themselves. Of course they are not, they are human. That's life. They do their best. But if they can't do it 100%, then let's stop pretending it's easy for everyone else. It's not.
Lastly, several comments have said "thank you, I felt bad for buying whole-wheat pitas with oil" or "I feel bad my marinara had salt and sugar" or something to that extent. I used to feel that way too and that's a problem. I should NOT feel bad about buying whole-wheat bread at the Farmers market. I should not feel bad about buying pasta sauce in a jar when I'm going to make spaghetti lasagna with three kinds of vegetables but need the sauce to make it happen INSTEAD of going to Chipotle that night. I should be proud of myself, and I finally am. I hope you are too.