Let me be completely honest. I am very frustrated right now.
I am frustrated at WebMD, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo News……
It started with Whole30…
It’s been a year since I first discovered this program, and I’ve been a fan of the concept ever since. Lately I’ve been following the co-founder, Melissa Hartwig, on Instagram. She totally has her head screwed on straight when it comes to food, fitness, and our relationship with them. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do my own Whole30 for quite some time. Simply put, the Whole30 program is designed to heal your relationship with food.
On January 2nd of this year, I finally embarked on my first Whole30 journey. And I couldn’t be more excited. It has been really good for me already. I am looking forward to nailing down what I suspect are a few “problem” foods for me, and discovering exactly how they are affecting my skin, energy, etc. But most of all, I am looking forward to the change in my tastebuds (already happening), and my relationship with food.
Something to understand, is that Whole30 Is. Not. A. Diet. Technically, yes, since the definition of diet is simply the foods that you eat. But in today’s society, the term diet has taken on a whole different connotation, one which Whole30 does not align with. For me (and thousands of others), a Whole 30 Challenge is a reset: for your tastebuds, digestive system, skin, etc. It’s about healing your relationship with food…learning to manage cravings…turning AWAY from food as a comfort, relaxer, etc. It could even be considered a short-term intervention.
Imagine my surprise when I saw this post by Melissa Hartwig (co-founder of Whole30) on Instagram. She mentioned negative PR surrounding Whole30, and I was curious to know what it was all about, so I looked it up.
What had got everyone’s attention, was an article that Cosmopolitan magazine wrote, claiming that Whole30
“Is Actually the Worst Diet You Could Do”
Seriously?? I can’t even.
The article was based on this panel of experts that the U.S. News and World Report gathers every year to rank the top diets. These rankings are based on being: “easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.” Basically, Whole30 ranked #38, at the very bottom of the list. So, apparently, Whole30 IS the “worst diet”…..IF you’re basing your idea of the best and worst diet off of this misinformed annual ranking. But I couldn’t believe the faulty logic and hypocrisy of the rankings.
What was really shocking to me, is that a few of the diets that “outranked” Whole30 included: Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig. There are so many nutritional, craving-related, psychological, and emotional reasons why it’s ridiculous that these diets ranked above Whole30…if you’ve never heard of them, just look up how they work, and the kind of “food” you’re supposed to fuel your body with.
Melissa Hartwig responded to the ranking with this:
“How are diets based on calorie restriction, processed foods, supplements, and meal replacement shakes ‘healthier’ than an approach that encourages participants to eat real food to satiety without counting calories?” Hartwig says.
“Our program’s efficacy speaks for itself, as evidenced by the countless medical doctors who successfully use our program with their patients, and the hundreds of thousands of life-changing testimonials we’ve received.”
And even more shocking, the diet that apparently has ranked #1 for the last SIX YEARS?
Do you want to know what that diet is?
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
you can look it up for yourself, but let me give you a few key points:
- eat 6-8 servings of whole grains PER DAY– no consideration AT ALL for the number of carbs this provides, which could be a little much for some; everyone knows that excess carbs and/or sugar equals fat storage. Not to mention, all of the other downsides of grains.
- 6 or FEWER ounces of meat– where are you supposed to get your protein from? And this is stemming from the myth that meat is somehow bad for us.
- 5-6 servings EACH of fruits and vegetables– I’m pretty sure that increasing JUST your vegetable intake is a good idea…no need to increase the amount of sugars (natural or not) you’re eating.
There are so many problematic mindsets out there, when it comes to nutrition…
“A calorie is JUST a calorie”
“low-carb is inherently bad for you”
“ALL kinds of saturated fat will give you heart disease”
“any healthy diet HAS to include whole grains”
“giving up gluten is stupid if you don’t have celiac disease”
…just to name a few. Also, there’s this big massive diet and fitness industry that plays off of poor body image, food addictions, cravings, etc. Some of these kept popping up, as I looked into this claim that Whole30 is the “worst diet”. But those will have to be for another day. Today, I’m focusing on why Whole30 is NOT the “worst diet”.
I have read so many testimonials of people who’ve had success with a Whole30 and transformed their health dramatically. And I knew that a lot of why Whole30 ranked so low was based on false ideas and/or the fact that there was no MONEY in giving Whole30 a good ranking. I was curious to see if anyone was writing about why Whole 30 was NOT the “worst diet”, so I googled it. At the top of the list, I found a handful of articles that basically agreed with Cosmopolitan. And the more I read, the more nonsense I heard, including those old nutrition myths that just won’t die.
As I was reading all of these frustrating articles, and misconceptions about Whole30 (and nutrition in general), my husband walked into the room….perfect timing. A human target! 😛
So, I started ranting to him, all about this whole (no pun intended ;)) situation.
And it kind of felt good to get it out of my system. But I realized that I do that quite often: I rant about some health myth that is leading people astray and making them miserable. And then it stops there. I’ve already reasoned through why its a myth, misconception, or narrow-minded viewpoint. My passion dies, and I kind of forget about doing something about it. But I decided to do something about it this time, and defend what I think is an amazing, healthy concept: The Whole30 Program
So, here are the reasons people were saying Whole30 is not a good idea (according to the aforementioned article), and why these reasons are totally unfounded.
Why Whole30 is Not the “Worst Diet”
- It’s “discouraging perfectly healthy food groups”– what food groups does Whole30 cut out? Grains, Dairy, Sugar (and all sweeteners), Legumes, and carageenan, msg, and sulfites. How is this bad? I can only see the BENEFITS from this. Besides, if you really want to be upset at removing things like grains, beans, and dairy…you’re encouraged to systematically add these foods back into your diet at the end of the program, to see how they are affecting you. No one said anything about cutting out ALL grains and dairy for life (though that wouldn’t be a bad choice), unless you find that they are affecting your healthy negatively, and are willing to do so. Whole30 is an elimination diet of sorts, which can be really helpful in figuring out how certain foods you eat are affecting you.
- It can lead to nutrient deficiencies– Nothing could be further from the truth! How could eliminating sugar and processed foods, and eating a ton of vegetables, clean protein, healthy fats, fruits, nuts, and eggs, be BAD for your health?! What nutrients are contained in grains, beans, dairy, and sugar, that you can’t get from these other foods?
- It’s too restrictive– Number one, Whole30 is not meant to be a forever lifestyle…it’s a reset. And two, I get that we need moderation; but I hate how we are basically led by what the industry tells us, to keep up endless cycles of cravings and food addiction…the ones which Whole30 seeks to heal. I say that there IS a proper time for restriction…if you need it, and do it in a healthy way. Stop telling me that I am restricting myself too much, by focusing on foods I love, that make me feel great, and promote long-term health.
- Promotes meat consumption– First of all, if you’re still convinced (from a dietary or environmental standpoint) that meat is bad, then read this and this.
- High in sodium- salt is allowed on the Whole30, but I hardly see how it promotes unnecessary quantities of it. Not to mention, real, minimally processed salts (celtic sea salt, pink himalayan, etc.) are really good sources of minerals, don’t contain any kind of sugars (which table salt does, by the way), and are necessary for good health. I think we can all agree that limiting your consumption of table salt and processed salty foods, is a good idea. But there are very few cases on a healthy whole foods diet, when a reduction in real salt intake is warranted.
- Low in calcium- I’m guessing this was mentioned because dairy is out during the program…. *sigh* I get so tired of hearing that you NEED milk for good strong bones. That’s just not the case. I have more resources below on this.
- Permits too much cholesterol- First of all, your overall cholesterol level is basically useless in determining risk of heart disease. Secondly, dietary cholesterol doesn’t equal bad cholesterol levels in the blood. If you’re still hung up on dietary cholesterol and saturated fats, I recommend reading this book.
- The final thing that really bugged me: everyone seems to think that Whole30 is a weight-loss program, which means a ton of bashing from people who say that it’s too hard and restrictive, and will just lead to overeating in the end, along with gaining the weight back. This is not even true. As I wrote about before, I think we can go too far with this “moderation” thing. Besides, Whole30 is most definitely not meant to be a weight-loss program, as stated by the founders:
“You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)”
I would like to conclude by encouraging you to go check out the program for yourself. I am not an affiliate in any way (in fact, the program itself is free; buying one of the books is just a bonus, since they’re kind enough to give you a ton of awesome resources for free). I just love what Melissa Hartwig is doing. Buy her books, and follow her on Instagram. You’ll get a good healthy dose of nutrition, fitness motivation, and helpful insight into your relationship with food.
Not everyone needs to do a strict Whole30 to heal their relationship with food, or manage cravings. But, everything about this program is so right, why would you NOT do it? Everything is already laid out for you, with a ton of tips, tricks, and online support. So, if you feel like this program would be helpful for you, join in!