The words “Whole” and “30” have given us some wonderful things. Such as:
30 FOR 30
30 MAN BATTLE ROYALS
WHOLE-ASSING ONE THING INSTEAD OF HALF-ASSING TWO
See what wonderful things can come of those words?
Now, what happens when you combine those two words to form Whole30?
You get an evil, heinous cleanse that ruins your love of food and all things that are good!
So, some context. Early this year, one of my lady’s coworkers decided that she wanted to make their lives miserable, and said “hey I just heard about this diet where you don’t get to eat anything good, this will make our lives so much better, we should all totally do it together!!” And because my lady is a bigwig at her workplace, she was kind of sucked into doing it, having to set a good example for the underlings and all.
She sent me an email later that day, with the details of the challenge her coworkers had set up around this god-forsaken debacle. Below is a brief re-enactment of our conversation (unspoken thoughts in parentheses):
My lady: “check out this challenge my coworkers have set up!” (oh my god I don’t know why they hate me!!)
Me: “wow, that looks pretty rough!” (what would possess them to be so horrible to themselves?)
ML: “don’t worry, you don’t have to do it with me if you don’t want” (dammit, you better do this with me if you know what’s good for you!)
Me: “no, I will do this with you” (dammit, I better do this with her if I know what’s good for me.)
ML: “you’re such a sport!” (he knows what’s good for him!)
So I was stuck spending the next 30 days going through a diet that neither one of us needed. Now, you’re probably asking, what is this Whole30 thing? It can’t be so awful, right? Ohhh no, my friend, you would be greatly mistaken!!
Whole30 is about the most restricted and masochistic diet/eating plan that has ever been created. It was rated as the worst diet in existence by US News & World Report (of course, Whole30 fanatics will point out to you that this is not supposed to be a lifelong diet, but rather a lifestyle change, but will then bristle if you point out that if it’s not a diet, then it’s a thinly veiled cleanse).
Now, why was it rated as the worst diet in existence?
Well, for starters, you can’t eat anything. I’ve put together this handy visual to help you identify whether a food item is allowed under the Whole30 diet:
If that hasn’t illustrated the point, here’s a list of items that are specifically restricted as part of this diet/cleanse/abomination:
- Sugar in any form (including honey, maple syrup, Splenda, anything that tastes good)
- Processed foods (except Larabars, because reasons)
- Alcohol (Why are we doing this diet again??!!)
- Grains of any sort
- Corn (which they somehow include in the grain category, mostly because I think they want to minimize the number of bulletpoints of stuff you can’t eat. Up yours evil restrictive monsters!)
- Legumes (no beans, lentils, peanuts, Jesus I want to kill myself)
- Soy (that’s right, no soy sauce, ffs)
- Lemon cake (NO SANSA YOU MAY NOT HAVE LEMON CAKE!!)
Got all that? Here’s about all that’s left:
- Lean meats (although bacon is allowed, but only nitrate-free bacon, which gets disguised by an insane amount of salt)
- Clarified butter (you know, like, the most unhealthy part of butter)
- Fruits & vegetables
- Nuts (except peanuts, because they’re not really nuts or something)
- Coconut milk/cream/oil/aminos (I had never heard of coconut aminos before this diet, but they say that they are a reasonable substitute for soy sauce. They are wrong.)
- Chris Christie (EWWWWWW, YOU SAID LEAN MEATS!!!)
So, yeah, this is pretty miserable. And don’t think you can outsmart the system by making gluten-free versions of foods you like, like paleo pancakes or muffins (and let’s be honest, the Whole30 diet is essentially militantly restricted paleo), because you’re just eating dumbed down versions of the foods that made you into the miserable cretin that you are, and eating such a version of these foods is just like…
SEX WITH YOUR PANTS ON!!!
Yes, that is a thing they say (or sometimes SWYPO, when they want to be all abbrieve). Clearly they do not understand how sex works. But they try to hammer the point that you’re wasting calories on food that isn’t as good as the original, like sex with your pants on. To which I say, don’t begrudge me for wanting to re-live my college years.
Anyways, they restrict you from having good food because your diet that’s full of sugar and gluten and other things that are fun to eat are also ruining your body and manifesting in horrible ways, like bloating, or allergies, or forcing your kid to play lacrosse. And, rather than sensibly removing one trigger at a time from your diet and seeing how it affects your life, they decided that the best way to do it is to remove them all from your diet, and allow your body to…ummm…cleanse them out of your system.
Anyways, you’re probably thinking, oh I could do this for a bit, I’m sure you get a cheat day here or there.
You do not.
OHHHH YOU DO NOT!!
Nope. Not a bite. You may not have a cheat meal, a slip, a special occasion thing. Nothing. It is “a fact, born of education and experience” (if you’re wondering what exactly that means…you have come to the wrong person, because I have no idea.) A single bite of pizza could derail everything. And if you do cheat…they’ll know…
Don’t worry, though. The creators of Whole30 understand that this is going to be difficult, and want you to know that they are ready to give you all the love and support that you nee…
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard.”
(Somebody missed their four hour Crossfit session!!)
“Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”
(Ummmm…what the fuck…)
“You never, ever, ever have to eat anything you don’t want to eat. You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no. Learn to stick up for yourself. It’s always a choice, and we would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade.”
(So you’re saying don’t give in to their peer pressure, give in to ours?)
(I should also point out, the founders of this thing have almost no medical background of any sort. Both creators tout their credentials of being a Certified Sports Nutritionist – as far as I can see, one can obtain this certification by passing a test. One of the founders – Dallas Hartwig – also boasts of his experience as a functional medicine practitioner, though as far as I can see that consists entirely of being a physical therapist. So, buyer beware.)
Enough of my rant, you’re probably wondering how this went.
Do I even need to tell you?
IT WAS HORRIBLE!!!!!!
It was 30 days of dietary hell. There’s no other way to say it.
I tried to have a good attitude going in. I tried saying “oh, this will teach us how to eat better, I’ll be healthier, this could be good.”
And then day one hit. And I decided to bake a couple eggs in avocado halves, because I saw a picture of that and it looked really cool. And then I found out that the person who posted that picture forgot to mention that the avocado will tilt if you don’t scoop the flesh just right, and half the egg will end up on the baking sheet.
And it was just over. The next 89 meals were running out the clock.
Now, to be fair, the food is not awful. You can make some reasonably decent tasting food if you try, but I can’t say that there’s more than two or three things that I made on the diet which I would ever make again. Everything was just blah.
I never thought I would get sick of bacon and eggs, but after having it 2-3 times a week for a month, I couldn’t wait to pour myself a bowl of cereal.
I bought a bunch of stuff that I had never eaten before that I swore I would try, like cauliflower rice, kale, and shredded brussel sprouts. And then I laughed as I looked at them in the refrigerator every day for the next month, before I finally decided that the need for fridge space outweighed my desire to delude myself into believing that I was actually going to use them.
I made dishes that I knew were going to come out badly, and my lady was very dubious about whether they would be any good, and I made them anyways, because I felt like I had to try.
I waited for my taste buds to change (yes, they said that your taste buds would change to appreciate the sweetness of natural foods). I waited for those cravings for chocolate to dissipate as they said they would. Neither of those things happened. Sweet potatoes did not taste like candy, they tasted like sweet potatoes.
I spent what felt like was twice as long as normal in the kitchen (it’s not too hard to end up spending two hours a day prepping and cooking meals, which veers closely into the time not well spent category), and was putting out some really mediocre food.
And it just wore on me. I got to the point where the life was being sucked out of me, and I dreaded going into the kitchen. There was no joy in it for me. I just lost…ummm…help me out, Shawn Michaels, what’s the word?
Thankfully, we made it to the end of it, though I wouldn’t say that there are many changes that we’ll make as a result of this diet. I don’t feel like there was any effect on my mood, my energy level, or anything positive physically. I do feel less stress, because I’m not worrying about what I’m going to make for my next meal – I can have a bowl of cereal or make a sandwich and be good.
And I’m finally enjoying cooking again, because my food tastes good.