Food Freedom & the Holiday’s

The food freedom line has historically been a tight walk for me around the holidays. A year ago around this time, I spent several weeks on the struggle bus as you may remember from a previous post, but this year I implemented new coping skills that really helped me stay afloat.

I was more involved with cooking and meal planning our holiday meal.

I asked for extra support when I needed it.

I went last instead of first to make my plate so I did not feel rushed or pressured which allowed me to make more deliberate choices on what foods and how much I was putting on my plate.

I gave myself permission to choose in the moment if I wanted something or not. And this is what Food Freedom is all about. I didn’t say, “Yes Courtney, eat the pie, you can have the pie, or 5 slices of pie on Thanksgiving” I said to myself, “Courtney, when you get to the dessert portion of the meal, decide then if the pie is worth it or if you want something else instead, or maybe nothing at all.”

I literally said those things to myself, out loud, multiple times and it helped. It worked.

When I got to the dessert table, I decided to eat a piece of delicious gluten free carrot cake complete with luscious cream cheese frosting that my mother in law, sister in law and I made.

And it was so good, and so worth it.

I try to maintain a structured Whole30 meal plan around the holidays as it helps me make better choices when it is time to indulge. I swear the “treat” tastes better when I view it as a “treat” and not a dessert requirement or something like that.

Growing up I just thought that dessert was mandatory after dinner but that’s not true at all. That part is in my control and that’s been hard to adjust to but thankfully Whole30 has helped me tremendously with that.

So this past weekend, I went to a cookie decorating party where I got to decorate some amazing gourmet cookies that far exceed my decorating and baking ability without help. They were gorgeous. I went with a group of friends and it was an incredible experience.

As soon as I posted the photos of the cookies my inbox flooded with questions about how many I ate, if I was going to eat them and how I handled it.

It just depends. I let myself decide in the moment, not beforehand.

I did eat a cookie. Actually, the party was Saturday and as of day (Monday) I’ve eaten 3 cookies and I don’t feel guilty at all.

And in respect of full disclosure, my sugar dragon is roaring and I know I need to pump the brakes with cookie consumption but I have a grip on the situation thanks to the tools I keep in my Whole30 tool belt.

The holidays don’t have to be a scary time when you set yourself up for success. For me success looks like having a Whole30 meal template the majority of the time unless it is something that I consciously decide is worth it. My mom makes peanut butter balls once a year so you’d better believe I will make the choice to eat one or two or five when the opportunity presents itself next weekend when I am home for Christmas.

The Whole30 was not designed to make you feel like you are in food prison. It’s simply a nutritional reset to help you figure out what foods are worth it to consume and which ones aren’t. Of course if you feel like you are spiraling out of control, pump the brakes a little bit and pull a coping skill out of your Whole30 toolkit and implement when necessary. Maybe it is a mini reset or another Whole30 or maybe it’s asking support from a Whole30 Coach or friend.

The Whole30 does not want to steal your family’s holiday traditions from you and make you feel guilty for eating your grandma’s pie. The Whole30 does not want you to decline an invitation to a fun cookie decorating party either. It’s actually quite the opposite. The Whole30 is designed to carry you into your food freedom where you get to live your best life, eating the best foods that serve you. And sometimes, your mom’s sweet potato pie or (Melissa Hartwig’s chocolate cream egg at Easter) is in fact serving you because YOU are in control. You have made the deliberate decision to eat it… or not and that is the ultimate goal— to be confident in your health, habits and relationship with food. Whether the food is roasted broccoli or homemade cookie. <3

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Smoothie Talk

I have had a love-hate relationship with smoothies for years. I have a history of binging and restricting food and often, smoothies can trigger the restrictive side if I am not careful.

While I agree that smoothies are a great way to get lots of vitamins and minerals jam packed into a delicious tasting, convenient treat, I think there’s a time and a place for them.

When I was restricting and so heavily counting calories, I stuck with smoothies for nearly every meal. I packed them with fruits, veggies and protein powder which were all healthy, appropriate ingredients but psychologically and emotionally was catastrophic and I didn’t even realize it.

Eventually after so much routine smoothie consumption I found myself feeling guilty, shameful and fat if I had to chew an actual meal. The control seemed too far gone and I panicked, going right back to that smoothie life.

It was so easy to justify my poor eating habits if I could tell myself I had a nutritious smoothy because it was full of good things, and you see ads for healthy smoothies everywhere!

What you don’t see, is smoothies determining your self-worth which is the road I went down.

I really knocked my unhealthy smoothie habit during my first Whole30 (see pg 72 in the Whole30 book for deets) and now have them as a part of my food freedom but not as a part of a reset.

For me, I make sure that smoothies are an added source of nutrition to my day not a meal replacement. The smoothie you see here came after my regular breakfast of chicken apple sausage and roasted veggie bake.

If a smoothie is my meal-which is not often- I make it into a smoothie bowl with added (unblended) toppings to ensure I am chewing my food. This helps to make sure I get pre-digestive enzymes flowing and to have my brain and my belly communicating on the same page.

One of the biggest non-scale victories I learned during my Whole30 journey is to value not only the food on my plate but the experience associated with it. I am less likely to sit down at my table with a smoothie and enjoy every sip of it without being distracted by a million different things. If I only limit myself to on-the-go smoothies I am not truly taking in everything that those ingredients have to offer me like I would if I prepared it and enjoyed it one bite at a time.

I am no smoothie hater and thoroughly enjoyed my extra greens smoothie from The Juice Bar this morning, but I encourage you to make sure your relationship with smoothies is a healthy one and that you don’t forget the value of a tasty, chewing worthy bite of food <3

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Whole30 Potluck

You guys, since my Whole30 journey began a year and a half ago, I had big plans of hosting a potluck. A safe place where you didn’t have to worry or think twice about what food was being served and if it was compliant or not. A party you could go to without having to eat before you got there, where you didn’t have to take emergency food, or prepare to politely decline every hors d’oeuvre that came your way.

Well, it finally happened a couple of weeks ago. More food than I imagined, delicious as ever with all the LaCroix your heart could handle, Whole30 trivia AND door prizes. The cool thing about it was the diversity of people that attended–where some guests were Whole30 pro’s and others who had never heard of it before. It just further confirmed the beauty of the Whole30 community and how wanting to look and feel our best, eating delicious, nutrient dense food is something we can all have in common.

Here is just a glimpse of *some* the amazing food we had, and I wish I had taken more pictures of the food because, y’all, it. was. so. good.


Such delicious food. Everything from my typical roasted veggie bake with chicken apple sausage you see me eat nearly every day, pork carnitas and tenderloin, cucumbers, avocados, chicken salad… my oh my!

Game time! Whole30 Potluck Trivia

Whole30 trivia consisted of 30 (get it?) questions from easy to hard, (some say they were really hard) about all things Whole30. Guests were asked to pick a number, remove the post it note and read the question aloud and answer. If they were unable to answer it was up for stealing from another guest. The goal was whoever had the most post it notes at the end of the game were able to pick from the basket of door prizes first!

The door prizes included: Nutpods and Tessemae’s Ranch Dressing (surprise surprise), Tessemae’s Ketchup, Primal Kitchen Mayo, 2 sets of 1 Larabar and 1 Rx Bar. All goodies were compliant of course.

I had not prepared for a tie, so I had to think of some tie breaker questions off the top of my head but, alas, we had a winner. If I remember correctly, the Nutpods were first to go and the Mayo was soon to follow. Everyone walked away a winner as each guest left with a Whole30 prize in hopes of making their Whole30 a little bit easier.

To see a list of the questions, scroll to the bottom of the post!

Out of everyone who attended the Potluck only two were on a Whole30 at the time. The significant others of the guest attended too so there were some non-compliant beverages consumed by those and the ones who were not actively doing a Whole30 BUT, that’s what food freedom is all about. I had a delicious plate of food and was completely satisfied and still felt amazing after I ate it, along side my spiked pumpkin cider (please hurry, fall).

For those who were in the midst of a reset, there were plenty of compliant beverages for them, but ALL the food was compliant and that was a beautiful feeling.

If you are wanting to host a Potluck on your own, here are my suggestions to get the ball rolling, keeping in mind, this is what I did and wished I had done, but something different might work for you.

In the nature of any Whole30, the best place to start is picking a date, so…

  1. Talk to your circle of friends before hand and discuss a date that works best for (most). It’s going to be impossible to find a date that works for everyone.
  2. Create a Facebook event and send out invites at least 1 month ahead of time (you can do formal invites too if you’d like)
  3. Be thorough in your description of the event and expectations for the evening (time, date, place, what to bring, who to bring)
  4. Allow other guests to bring a Whole30 buddy or two with them
  5. Post a comment on the event page to have guests write what they are bringing to avoid doubles and check back periodically asking the same question, especially the day before.
  6. Post copy of Whole30 Rules on the event page (I didn’t do this and should have).
  7. Be inviting and welcoming when guests arrive. You can have index cards to write on if you want to put the name of the food on each dish
  8. Have name tags for your guests to wear if there are a lot of people who do not know one another
  9. Be organized- have drinks in a cooler, silverware handy, paper plates for easy cleanup, to-go containers ready for the guest on a current Whole30 (do as much ahead of time as possible)
  10. Thank everyone for coming and send them off with a door prize (not necessary but is a nice touch of you are able to accommodate) + send a thank you out on the event page the next day or two after.

   It is not one size fits all and there are things I will do differently next time, and yes, there will be a next time because it was so much fun! I am incredibly passionate about this lifestyle and enjoy sharing it with any and everyone, especially these friends who came from near and far for the potluck!

If you host a potluck, please tag me (@coffeecarrotsandcurls on Instagram) or Snap your photos to court_coyle,  I would LOVE to see what you came up with!

Until then, keep calm and Whole30 on friends.

Here is a list of the questions that were asked. How well would you have done?

  1. What year was the first Whole30 completed?
  2. If you want butter, what is the best Whole30 compliant option?
  3. What is the title of the first book in the Whole30 series?
  4. What was Melissa eating when her co-founder suggested they do a 30 day clean diet challenge?
  5. T or F Can you use alcohol to cook with on the Whole30?
  6. “I like cupcakes” is the first line in what Whole30 book?
  7. T or F Re-creating your favorite comfort food is encouraged during a Whole30?
  8. T or F You should throw away your scale during your Whole30?
  9. What happens if you break one of the rules during your Whole30?
  10. Whole30 is pressing the reset button on h__ h__ and r_________ with f____.
  11. How many new Whole30 books are coming out this year?
  12. What must you slay while on the Whole30?
  13. On what days will you want to “kill all of the things?”
  14. Sleeping more soundly, increased energy and fewer blemishes are all examples of what?
  15. What is phase 2 of the Whole30?
  16. Slow roll and fast track are examples of what?
  17. If you’re slipping into old habits, what is the best way to get back on track?
  18. What Whole30 approved partner offers Ketchup, BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, to name a few?
  19. It’s okay to use tobacco products on the Whole30?
  20. What is the name of the Whole30 program for pregnant women?
  21. “Quitting heroin is hard _________ ____ ______ _____ is not hard.”
  22. What is the first thing you do before starting your Whole30?
  23. What is an alternative to soy sauce while on the Whole30?
  24. What does SWYPO stand for?
  25. T or F Locust Bean Gum is acceptable on the program?
  26. Avocados, olives and nuts are examples of what?
  27. What is the name of the Whole30 Social Media/Digital Manager you often see on their Insta stories?
  28. Epic bars, Rx bars and Larabars are examples of what?
  29. What is the name of the fermented tea drink with probiotics?
  30. What common creamer is used on the Whole30?
  • If you want the answers find me on social media, comment below or email me!


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