I’m one of three coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. Everyday we guide and help people through the ups and down of changing to and sticking to a plant-strong diet. We make a point to meet everyone where they are, and never to judge.
I got this e-mail a few days ago, and I wanted to share it with all of you:
“Hi, I really want to start Engine 2. But I hear that it’s very judgmental and that you tell people how to eat and what to eat, and put down everyone who doesn’t eat the way you recommend. I don’t think I can be perfect, so I’m trying to figure out if it would work for me. I just don’t know if I can do the vegan thing, or feel judged if I slip.”
Let’s start with a few things.
This is a therapeutic approach to health. This means that our goal is to help people overcome and prevent diseases like T2 diabetes, heart disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s, dementia and more. We don’t have any other agenda. There are some nice benefits aside from health of course, but those are kind of bonuses. Our number one focus is health.
We have guidelines. These are guidelines that we have come up with, with the help of people who are well versed in nutrition and clinical results of what impact nutrition can have on the body. These guidelines are in place to help you make the best decisions, not to judge your decisions.
We all live in a toxic world. There are temptations everywhere. And we know that things like pleasure traps can cause a lot of issues when it comes to making the right decision as to what is the healthiest choice for your body. All of us, coaches, speakers, educators are tempted by the same things. None of us are 100% perfect 100% of the time, though we try our best to make 100% of the right choices.
It’s been a journey for all of us. And what I can tell you is that with continued education and support it gets better. I used to slip into the trap of eating nut butter and whole grain bread, A LOT. I knew it wasn’t good for me, I knew it was not getting me to the point I wanted to be. It was Dr. Esselstyn’s words that kept ringing in my head, over and over and over again. Was he judging me? No. Was he educating me? Yes. Did he care about me? ABSOLUTELY.
The thing is, we make these suggestions and guidelines not to make you feel less than, or judged, but instead to educated you because we care tremendously about your health. That is one thing I can say, without a doubt abou the entire Engine 2 team – they all care, a lot. Otherwise we wouldn’t make guidelines, we wouldn’t be truth seekers, we wouldn’t give you the best possible advice we could, and we wouldn’t enable you to make decisions that would hurt you.
That is why we don’t encourage moderation or having a little here and there. To me that is encouraging a decision that could hurt you, and that is the last thing we want to do.
Personally, as you know, I almost lost my life to a lot of poor decisions regarding my health and what I ate. For years I had well-meaning people tell me to “not be so strict”, “a little won’t kill you”, “you have to live a little”, “what’s the harm of having one?”, “just have it every so often”, “you need a cheat day”. And for me that was always enough to justify choices that were hurting me.
Often people that are saying those sorts of things are struggling with this very thing themselves, and want to know that others are going to be making poor health decisions as well.
What we teach is to make being plant-strong how you live your life. Just like we’d encourage someone to never smoke again, even on special occasions or for a treat. We do this because we know that for most of us, making one bad decision often has a domino effect and causes a bunch of them, which ends up hurting us.
We want to encourage you to make as many good decisions as you can.
If you happen to slip up, there is never any judgment. We will be there to help you back on track, and continue to make sure that you have all the knowledge you could possibly need to become the healthiest person you can be.
I look at it like this: Let’s say we’re on a hike together and I have hiked the trail 200 times, and this is your very first time. Chances are you are going to want me out ahead of you, and you are going to want some guidance. I’m going to tell you “absolutely do not step in that hole” or “you want to step over this branch” or “you want to steer clear of this edge right here”. I’ve hiked the path enough to know that if you step in the hole, it looks a lot deeper than it seems, I once broke my ankle doing that! If you don’t step over the branch, and step on top of it, it will cause you to trip and fall, and there happens to be some poison ivy right there! If you don’t steer clear of the edge, even though it looks like a short cut, there is very slippery dirt, and a huge cliff that I almost fell off of once!
I am not giving you those directions in the hike to judge you. And if you don’t follow my advice, I’ll be there to help you up, but it would be a disservice to you, if I just told you to go and do whatever feels right, no worries, not going to give you any instruction.
So when/if you ever feel judged, remember that our jobs are to be trail guides, and to give you the best possible direction we can, and help you up, and get you back on the trail if you should happen to slip.