I get it. The Whole30 seems kind of crazy. It feels extreme, it looks very limiting, and it just doesn’t make a ton of sense from the outside. I’m here to tell you that I know exactly what you’re thinking. No, I’m not blindly following Whole30 and drinking the Kool Aid (because I can’t have any damn Kool Aid) without giving it any critical thought.
Tim and I have been incredibly lucky that our family, friends and coworkers have been supportive (and even cheerleaders) of our Whole30 experiment. But its not like that for everyone. I’ve been doing my research and compiled some of the main arguments against Whole30/Paleo/Whole9 along with my responses. These are my personal opinions and thoughts- all of which are subject to change as I move through the program.
1) Whole30 is a fad diet, just like Adkins or Southbeach or any other number of weight loss programs. It’s just a moneymaker for the owners.
I understand where this comes from. There’s been a lot of press lately about Whole30 as the “new hot diet trend” sweeping Hollywood, Instagram, etc (here’s one of the articles). To me, this comes from journalists who aren’t doing their research. If you spend any time at all on the Whole30 website or with It Starts With Food, you’ll immediately see that weight loss is not, and should not be, the main motivation for doing the Whole30. Yes, most people who do Whole30 lose some weight. But there’s no scales, no counting calories (I’m looking at you, MyFitnessPal) and no huge weight loss promises. I’m not buying Whole30 brand foods, endorsed products, supplements, attending hosted meetings or paying per pound I lose. The Whole30 program is totally free – you don’t have to buy It Starts With Food to do it. Yes, blog traffic probably equals money for Dallas and Melissa… but we all have to make a living somehow. It’s about giving yourself a nutritional reset, not melting fat. (But how could it be a surprise to ANYONE that eating healthy food= weight loss?)
2) The idea of basing your diet on what cavemen did is ridiculous. We’ve evolved since then and our bodies are able to handle modern foods. What, should I not use a cell phone because the cavemen didn’t use them either?
This is my favorite argument – because I used to say it ALL THE TIME. I’m a total hypocrite -I think I even said this just weeks before starting Whole30. This was my mantra every time someone even whispered the word Paleo in conversation. Turns out, I was just really, really ignorant. (Also, Whole30 is slightly different/more hardcore than Paleo, but let’s roll with this.) In my opinion, Paleo could use a new mascot. No one is saying that we should do as the caveman did, not really. The very best way I’ve seen to describe Paleo can be found on Nom Nom Paleo, in her post called Paleo 101. I highly encourage you to take a peek. She even has it in a cute little cartoon form. This should clear up all that caveman confusion.
3) Our bodies need the nutrients from legumes, dairy and grains. You’re not getting adequate nutrition.
To this I say… read the book! There’s a lot of science behind this topic that’s incredibly enlightening. In short: while these foods are sources for nutrients like protein, fiber and calcium, there are other ways to get these nutrients. And in reality, the human body is really bad at extracting nutrients from the previously mentioned types of food. It’s much more efficient and lower risk to stick to veggies, fruits, healthy fats and meat/eggs.
4) You’re starving yourself. There’s no way this is sustainable.
First off, if you’re starving yourself then you aren’t doing it right. There is really no limit to how much food you can consume on Whole30 but rather which foods you can consume. If you’re constantly hungry you need to adjust your meals. This has happened to me a time or two and I’ve learned that I need to eat more than I initially thought I did. I’m also eating high calorie fats with my veggie/protein intake such as avocado, nut butters, nuts and oils. And if I work out I eat five times per day instead of three. No one here is starving- not one bit.
To the second point: Whole30 isn’t MEANT to be sustainable. It’s a 30 day reset. A “cleanse”, if you must. When Whole30 is done you start to look toward your future and consider how to use these principles and learnings to find your optimal lifestyle. I don’t know what mine will be yet, but I do know I won’t be living 100% Whole30 forever.
5) This entire program is made up! The rules are arbitrary! (See main blog image that’s been blowing up on Twitter lately)
True! And the Whole30 program is totally transparent about this. There are some “yes” and “no” foods that make no sense and seem inconsistent. Such as: yes to white potatoes and no to corn (aren’t they both whole foods that are starch?!), no alcohol even in cooking, sugar from fruit is okay even thought other sweeteners are not, etc. Weirdly… this doesn’t bother me. Nothing in the world is entirely black and white, but you have to make some calls and draw lines somewhere. There’s a million foods and a million arguments for whether things should be included or shouldn’t be. To me, the important is how these pieces come together to make a whole. So while I don’t agree on every tiny detail of this program, I do believe in the overall idea. Whole foods = better health. It’s hard for me to find issue in that statement. And that’s really what it’s all about.
There’s a million additional arguments and issues floating around out there as regards to the Whole30 or the idea of “elimination diets”. But here’s what it boils down to, in my opinion:
- It’s easy to attack something you don’t understand.
- It’s convenient to attack something that you don’t like, or that intimidates you.
- It’s easier to dismiss something than it is to actually try it.
And most importantly….
Paleo 101 – Everything you need to know! In cartoon form!