My Whole 30: Is It Worth a Try?

In recent years, dozens of fad diets have emerged, and virtually all of them promise you to rid you of your cravings, extra pounds and other things diverging from the notion of a healthy eating pattern. My Whole 30 is one of them: it offers you to challenge your will with an elimination diet with strict rules. Is it based on scientific evidence? What do reviews suggest? Here is what we have found.

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What is it?

The diet in question is not actually advertised as a diet proper – it is more of a plan designed to reinvent your relationship with food. But at the core of it is the good old dichotomy of assumingly good and bad foods, with strict rules (no slips allowed!) and time limits to make it more bearable emotionally.

Within the My Whole 30 limits, you are allowed to eat vegetables, fish and other seafood, meat, eggs, natural fats (lots of avocados!), herbs and spices; you are to ditch all carbs, including grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol and additives and artificial sweeteners, as well as sulfites. There is plenty of information about the diet available on the internet, so we won’t dwell on it here.

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While the internet is teeming with positive reviews, there are just as many that are mixed or negative. Actually, one of the major problems with My Whole30 is its inconsistency: say, you are said that no compromise is allowed (an occasional slip is a reason to start it all over again), and you cannot even make treats using allowed ingredients. Still, they put potatoes on the white list – why is that so, if it is at odds with their rules? At the same time, legumes which are nutritious, rich in protein and slow-to-digest carbs are left out. More on the issue can be found here.

Another problem is that the choice of good and bad foods appears to be quite random. Apart from the potato riddle, there is the legumes problem. Fibers found in them aid digestion, and they are packed with nutrients, which makes them part of virtually any healthy diet. This is not the only example – more arguments are available on the page the link to which is found above. There does not seem to be a sold scientific base underlying the approach.

What about reviews?

As it has been mentioned above, these are mixed. Some claim the diet has changed their lives, other blame it for their depression. This review is an example of how My Whole30 apparently benefited the person’s health and mood, and such feedback is quite common.

Other stories are not full of praise. In this one, for instance, the one who decided to put her will to the test eventually found the experience useful, as she considered the main goal of the program – to overhaul your relationship with food – to be accomplished. Actually, the story reveals many of My Whole30’s drawbacks.

  • First, it was hard – with boiled eggs being a staple and everything that you have always eaten on the black list, it is definitely no easy walk. Yes – no pain no gain, but the food boredom was an issue. Besides, it had a profound negative effect on her relationships with others: her boyfriend regretted he could not share food memories with her most of the time (except when he took her to a special restaurant offering My Whole30-compliant dishes), and she started seeing her pals less often except for the ones who joined the challenge: it appears that limiting your communication due to food choices is not a healthy way to be socially active. Conversely, it makes you more isolated and the diet rather elitist. Of course, many diets can cause these reactions, but it still is a drawback.
  • Second, she was proud of managing not to succumb to the temptation to indulge in ‘bad’ foods – which is not actually good in itself, but what if she did fail? Her fear was hidden somewhere deep inside – she even had a nightmare in which she ate pizza and had to start the challenge all over again.

All this boils down to the conclusion that My Whole 30 has more negative effects than positive ones – the benefits can be reaped by some other healthy diet (a healthier one, actually), and the very approach to nutrition is controversial at least. The choice of good and bad foods is inconsistent, and while it may be worth a try (as the allowed foods are healthy), there are alternatives which are safer. Eliminating carbs from your diet is not a very good idea, and the good old Mediterranean diet is a more science-based and balanced diet which can bring you good results.

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