Have you done the Whole30? Here are my thoughts about the popular Whole30 diet and why I’ll never do or promote the Whole30.
I’m taking a deep breath before writing this blog post.
It’s not an easy thing to go against the diet industry and speak up for what I believe in, but at the same time, I feel it’s necessary.
When I first discussed my feelings about the 21 Day Fix and why I don’t think it’s a good idea, I had a lot of mixed responses. However, most of the responses where overwhelmingly in agreement with what I had to say.
You see, I get so many messages from women who have tried every diet under the sun (not just the 21 Day Fix or Whole30) who are struggling and end up gaining more weight or else developing an unhealthy relationship with food and their body.
This is why I feel the need to speak up about these popular diets. I don’t want you to go down the same path I did where I was constantly worried about my weight, the food I ate, being in social situations, etc. I ruined my trust with food and my body, and now, I’m paying for that, and slowly working my way back to recovery and creating a “normal” relationship with food again.
Today, I wanted to talk about the Whole30 because it seems everyone and their dog is trying it. It’s not unusual, come January, that the diet talk grows louder and louder. Old diets are “revamped” promising “better” results. New diets are put onto the market, making promises that THIS is your magic ticket to weight loss and happiness.
You all know my food philosophy; eat real, whole foods in moderation from ALL the food groups. It’s pretty simple, and it works for me.
I feel like people’s concept of what constitutes a heathy diet has become so complicated in today’s society. Too many criteria, rules, restrictions, and considerations are being put on our diets. It all seems to be in an attempt to achieve the most perfect, pure diet….but frankly, I don’t think that’s possible.
I am all for finding ‘what works for you’, but I don’t think we have to go to such extremes by cutting out whole food groups or constantly experimenting with the latest diet fad just because. I feel these extremes lead us to lose touch with what our body really needs.
Okay, sure people feel better after 30 days of eating a certain way, but think about it, it’s mostly because people have reduced processed foods…not because of the specific food groups they cut out!
Food groups like dairy, legumes, FRUITS, etc. that have a wealth of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and are important to a healthy, diverse diet! Anyone can come up with a new diet philosophy and market it to the masses! Just because it gains popularity doesn’t make it credible. I won’t ever be doing a Whole30 challenge and I wanted to share some of the reasons Whole30 is not for me…
Why I Don’t Like The Whole30
There is NO Flexibility
Let’s face it, life is tough enough as it is. With family, friends, jobs, finances, busy schedules, don’t we have enough to think about already? Add to that more worry about what foods I can and can’t eat just adds another stress to my life.
When a diet comes with as many restrictions as Whole30, I feel like some of the enjoyment of eating and life in general is impeded upon. What about going out for dinner, family celebrations, birthdays, happy hour? These are all life events that can and SHOULD be celebrated. Trust me, I know what it’s like to avoid these situations like the plague – for 10 years I missed out on my kid’s birthday celebrations because I was being too strict with my food.
Life happens! Stuff happens! We can’t expect to be eating perfect all the time, even just for 30 days.
Also, my tastes change all the time. Some days I want a kale salad, some days I want a slice of homemade chocolate banana bread. Some days I want to avoid meat, some days I want all the red meat! Some days I want a protein shake, some days I want my hot chocolate.
The point is, I like to be able to satisfy my cravings and tastes in the moment. I don’t want to push down those thoughts of what would feel good for me and my body that day just to comply to some diet plan. It makes me feel like I can’t trust myself around food and I can’t trust my body’s natural cues and signals.
Creates “BAD” Foods
The Whole30 requires you to cut out a lot of different foods. But what I find happens to people is that they end up cutting those foods out after the 30 days is over. These off limit foods become “bad” foods in their eyes because they couldn’t eat them on the plan, so there must be a reason not to eat them permanently.
I was one of these people. For the past couple of years, I’ve been hearing that gluten is really bad for us. So, I cut it out completely. Now, I’m not saying that gluten is good for everyone, but once I heard that gluten “shouldn’t” be consumed, that became written in stone for me. However, I’ve NEVER had a problem with gluten. Not once. I’ve even been tested for food sensitivities and gluten/wheat came back insignificant.
Now, I choose not to eat much gluten because I actually prefer the taste of gluten-free grains, such as coconut flour, almond flour, or tapioca flour. And if sometimes I have gluten, it doesn’t bother me, and I don’t feel guilty about it like I used to.
The same goes for dairy. For some people, dairy may not feel good in their body. For me, it doesn’t bother my body. But I was told that we should avoid it. Why? That, I’m still unsure of. So, I choose to consume cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, heavy cream, etc. I choose not to drink milk because I HATE the taste. I make my own nut milk and I LOVE it!
I feel that many of the foods the Whole30 eliminates are unnecessary. Many of these foods contain healthy vitamins and minerals and don’t need to be avoided. I know that the challenge is technically only 30 days, but from what I gather from people’s recaps, I get the sense that they are afraid to start eating Whole30 unapproved foods again.
We Can’t Exist on the Same Foods Over and Over
One of the problems I have with diets is that you’re given a list of foods to eat and you’re expected to stick to them, day in and day out. How F’ing boring is that! Not to mention, that’s how food sensitivities can develop.
The people I’ve seen do Whole30 seem to struggle with variety and mixing things up. They find some of their favourite foods and then eat them over and over again. Kinda like this….
This is how I developed food sensitivities; I ate the same things over and over and over again. Now, I like to have variety in my life, especially when it comes to my food. Plus, I lost enjoyment in eating when all I ate was lean meat, steamed vegetables, and brown rice.
There is No Room for Treats
My life now is all about balance. I feel the Whole30 doesn’t leave room for balance. What is a life without the occasional slice of birthday cake, homemade treat, or your grandma’s famous sweet potato pie?!
The Whole30 emphasizes squashing cravings with the approved foods on the diet, but constantly squashing cravings not only leads to deprivation but also a major case of mental sadness and distrust with your body.
I would hate go through life feeling like some of my favorite foods were off-limits. Life isn’t about eating perfectly all the time, it’s about eating in a nourishing way. And that nourishment includes your body AND your soul. Squash and broccoli can only be so ‘soul-filling’.
It’s All About The Benjamins
I feel that EVERY diet out there is a cash grab. Just another way to prey on people’s weaknesses and tell them they aren’t good enough and shouldn’t be trusted.
I eat real, whole foods from every food group and I feel great (most of the time.) It’s true that some people do have real issues with certain foods (I have found out what foods don’t sit well with me,) but if you’re not medically diagnosed and are otherwise not experiencing issues with certain foods, why cut them out? Just to try it? Why?!
I see more and more people cutting out foods that they actually enjoy just for the sake of being trendy or because they read an article that told them to! For everything in Whole30 that makes negative claims against the ‘unapproved’ foods, you can find a million and one other pieces of research that say the exact opposite.
Is it good to cut out processed foods? YES! Is it good to listen to your body to see which foods don’t work well for you? YES! But you don’t need another diet telling you this. You have the common sense, you’ve just lost touch with it because of the diets!
It Creates an “All or Nothing” Attitude
For most of my adult life, I’ve been an all or nothing person, especially when it comes to my food. I used to view food as only “good” or “bad.” I consumed “good” foods 100% of the time and consumed “bad” foods 0% of the time. And if I did occasionally consume a “bad” food, I felt like a failure.
So many women come to me saying that they messed up their diet and feel so bad. They feel like a failure for not “complying” with the rules. Or they’ve been restricting for so long that they just can’t take it anymore.
It’s this kind of attitude that has me following the #antidiet movement. We are NOT failures! It’s these diets that make us FEEL like failures. Now that I’ve been off the diets for a few months, I NEVER feel like a failure. Sure, I have days where I eat more than I probably should, or have a few extra treats. But the difference is, I don’t beat myself up about it. I learn from my experience and forgive myself. I also know that it’s life! It’s okay to overeat sometimes. It’s okay to overindulge sometimes. That is part of the enjoyment of life.
I spent too many years sitting on the sidelines not enjoying my life because I was so consumed with what I “should” and “shouldn’t” eat according to the latest diet plan.
I often think back to my grandma, and if she were here and I told her about the Whole30 (or any other diet plan) she would probably ask me what the word “diet” meant!
As I mentioned above, I always come back to these simple ideals…eat real, whole foods from all the food groups in moderation. And also…don’t think so much!! We all get so caught up in our heads and with over-analyzing that we forget that simplicity really is best. Eat with the carefree abandon you had as a kid. Eat when you’re hungry and eat for nourishment. That’s it.
Have you done or considered doing the Whole30? What was your experience? Are you ready to drop the diets too and get back to simplicity?