May 13, 2015

Why We Aren't Doing the Whole 30

A few weeks ago, after spending the weekend away and not having any food in the house, I fell down a rabbit hole of eating horribly. There were bagels every day, there were more slices of pizza in one night than I'm willing to admit. There were cookies and muffins and get the picture.

Needless to say, I felt awful.

For some time, I've been paying a lot more attention to what I'm eating..not just what I'm eating, but what's in the food I'm eating. Did you know that there are brands of regular milk that contain carageenan?

There has been a lot of hype lately about the Whole 30. I've seen countless blog posts, Pinterest recipes, and social media posts about Whole 30. Naturally, I was intrigued. Some of the recipes I saw on Pinterest looked delicious and I was really interested in the idea of reducing sugar and processed foods...but when I dove a little deeper, I realized that this wasn't something I could fully support or participate in. Here's why.

1. The Rules - The rules are pretty strict. No added sugar (Fine). No alcohol (Fine). No grains including "pseudo-grains like quinoa" (Umm what?). No legumes including beans of all kinds and chickpeas (again...Umm what?). No soy products (Fine.) No dairy, carageenan, MSG or sulfites (Fine) and no recreating baked goods or treats with "approved" ingredients.

What can you eat? Fruits, vegetables and meat...including bacon. Yes, bacon. You're not allowed to eat honey or quinoa but you can eat bacon.

Quinoa is exceptionally healthy. Bacon is not. As a pescatarian (who only eats seafood on occasion), I can't give up quinoa, chickpeas, edamame or any other forms of protein that I rely on. The vegetarian/vegan version of Whole 30 allows some exceptions (chickpeas) but not others (quinoa)...which makes me wonder...why is it ok for vegetarians to eat chickpeas but not meat eaters?

The rules also fall into the shaming category the way "Skinny Bitch" did. The language is...pretty aggressive. For example, when they say:
"Don't even consider the possibility of a 'slip.' Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no 'slip.' You make the choice to eat something unhealthy." Ouch. So if I'm doing the Whole 30 and eat a cup of quinoa one day, I ruined the whole thing? 
"Don't you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard." and "You won't get any coddling, and you won't get any sympathy for your 'struggles'."
2. It doesn't make sense - The biggest reason we aren't doing Whole 30 is because I can't understand why we should. The author of the book, "It Starts with Food" (I know they don't want it called a diet but anything that restrictive really can't be called anything else) is a Certified Sports Nutrionist (not a Registered Dietitian) but on the website's official "Can I have...?" , the author herself says some things that leave me skeptical like:
I spent hours pouring through the entire comment thread on that "Can I have..." page and I just couldn't wrap my head around some of the restrictions. They recommend not drinking smoothies even if they're compliant because you shouldn't drink your fruits and vegetables. Vanilla extract isn't ok because it contains alcohol. They even say that this isn't logical...but you still shouldn't do it. In one of the comments, Melissa even says that she often feels like writing "Because I said so" in response to all of the questions of why certain foods aren't compliant.

3. I don't want to feel like crap - Everyone I've read about or talked to has done the Whole 30 has described feeling hungover for most of it. The most common theme is that everyone seems to eat 6 Larabars a day because they're always hungry. Whole 30 even tells you to expect to feel like crap throughout it. It's simple, I don't want to feel like crap. I don't want to feel hungover, or like I want to kill things. I don't want to feel like my pants are getting tighter...even if it is only temporary. I don't think it's possible to restrict your diet so much and still feel good. I don't want to shock my body. It's why I've never done a juice cleanse.

4. I believe in moderation - Since May 4th (we started on a Monday), The Pilot and I have undertaken our own 'challenge' of sorts. We've eliminated processed foods, added sugars and alcohol. Both of us feel incredible. We're keeping carbs (like rice and whole grain pasta) and dairy to a minimum. It doesn't feel restrictive at all. What do I miss? Cookies. What does The Pilot miss? Chips...and meat. (We aren't restricting meat, I just haven't been cooking it). I'd so much rather eat a bowl of roasted chickpeas or edamame at 3:00 as a snack than eat 6 Larabars throughout my work day.

That's why we aren't doing the Whole 30. I'm an academic, I like to research before I embarked on something that I knew it wasn't right for me.  I had to do my research and quite frankly, eliminating something from my diet because someone "said so" isn't my game.

If you've done the Whole 30 and stuck with it, good for you! I mean that. I wouldn't even give it a shot, but that's because it wasn't right for me. You probably have or had just as many reasons for doing it as I had against.

There are some people who would benefit tremendously from the Whole 30. I think it's an excellent way to learn the ways your body reacts to certain foods in order to place an allergy or insensitivity. I think it's great for someone who doesn't have an idea what foods are processed or contain additives.

What do you think? Have you tried the Whole 30? Have you steered clear of it for similar reasons? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

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