Pancake Rule, Tortillas, Tacos, Pizza, Substitutions

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I have a few issues / questions with this whole Pancake Rule. I've read it over and over again and it isn't clicking. First of all, pancakes aren't even something I ever eat anyway!

We've been doing this for a week. Everything we've been eating has been great. Not a bad meal yet. What I'm trying to figure out is why using somethings are ok, but others are not.

For example - I made Zuppa Toscana today, replacing heavy cream with coconut milk. Really good. We've made other things doing the same thing, really good. 

So, why can't I replace a flour tortilla with a Siete Almond Flour Tortilla? Why does it have to be lettuce? If tacos are "junk food", why is a taco in a piece of lettuce ok, but not in an tortilla? Tonight we are supposed to have tacos. I have no problem with lettuce wrapped, but I'm trying to figure out REALLY why the Tortillas are not ok. 

The same thing applies to pizza. Obviously you can't have cheese, but pizza sauce isn't sugary - or at least what I make for homemade pizza isn't. Tomatoes, salt, basil. A Siete Tortilla + Sauce + Meat seems no different than other substitutions. Couldn't I take prosciutto, lay down some sauce and some homemade Italian sausage, roll it up, pan fry it in olive / avocado / whatever oil and have pizza sticks? Wouldn't that be Whole 30 approved? What's the real difference?

The assumption also seems to be that these foods are junk foods. Delivery pizza is not the same as super thin crust, homemade pizza with a sauce with no sugar cooked in a 500+ degree outdoor oven. 

I'm not even trying to fill a craving, I'm just trying to really really understand why are some substitutions ok, but others aren't. 

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I agree with this questioning. Why can I make potato chips and eat them but I can't buy potato chips and eat them? Right? Seems nuts.

I have read that it's a behaviour thing as opposed to a food thing. If you open a bag of chips and eat the whole thing even though you're not hungry that is a behaviour that needs to be examined whereas taking the time to peel, prepare and fry chips is making food (a different behaviour) and probably not going to be one of those impulse things. I suspect pizza and other grain carbs are the same behaviour - I, for one, will eat a whole pizza by myself without a second thought so giving up that behaviour is more important than giving up the food. Making pizza roll ups like you described would be food whereas scarfing down a whole pizza from my local, amazing woodfire pizza joint is a behaviour that might need some examination. W30 is an experiment where we are looking at a ton of things.

I've done 5 W30s and know what behaviours I have that are detrimental to my health goals AND what foods are problematic for me. Tortillas and pancakes are never going to be a problem for me in either category. I make my own cassava flour tortillas and won't give them up again for a technically perfect W30 - lettuce wraps should never have been invented in my opinion. :)

I'm sure there's a more official stance but that's my take on it.

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Lorna is right about it being a behavior thing. Whole30 wants you to examine not just what you're eating, but why. Stress eating is something many people deal with, and it's easy to go from stress eating regular chips, to stress eating chips with Whole30 compatible ingredients, without really thinking about the behavior. Saying you have to actually make the chips adds an extra step, and you're more likely to stop and say, do I really want these? Do I want to put in the work for these? And if they're just a side that goes well with your meal, fine, but if you're between meals and not hungry you're more likely to go, wait, there's something else going on here.

The official explanation of the rule is here:


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I've read the pancake rule about 15 times. It doesn't make sense to me. 

I'm not going to get a bag of potato chips and eat them. I might take a bag or box of candy and eat it. and drink lots of soda (sugar or zero sugar). I know what my problems are. I also don't go out for pizza. Ever. I don't do frozen pizza either. I make everything from scratch. If spending a couple hours making thin crust pizza with no sugar anywhere in my backyard for my family for dinner is a behavior problem, then I guess spank me.

I'm not even talking about going off plan. As previously mentioned, the pancake assumes what "junk foods" are and assumes what someone's behaviors are. I know somewhere it says no bread type things, what-so-ever. Then just put that in the pancake rule. But maybe put some kind of explanation in there besides something like "these are easy foods you might maybe someday maybe possibly eat".  There is easy with a bag of potato chips, but there's intent with making something delicious with approved foods - even if a cassava / almond flour tortilla is "not allowed."

I'm sticking with "the rules" for the next 16 days, even if someone can't explain tortillas to me.


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It's good that you know your own weaknesses around food are.  The reason that the rule may be more impactful for some than others is because we have to make one program with one set of rules for hundreds of thousands of participants with different context. It's great that tortillas aren't a problem for you but the rule stands because we can't really say 'no pancakes/tortillas except for if you feel you don't have a problem with them'. We do black and white so that it's easy to follow which also helps with habit forming because your brain is not required to activate around decisions - saves you some mental capital as well as will power, of which we all have a limited amount per day.

I hope that helps?

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