The Whole30 Facts Vs. Fiction
Raise your hand if you have ever heard about the Whole30 diet. Better yet, raise your hand if you have seen a lot of Whole30 Facts Vs. Fiction articles, and read how unhealthy it is, or that it was difficult to maintain long-term.
I have discovered that most of the proponents against the Paleo Diet and the Whole30 have never tried either, and make their assessment by reading other articles that downgrade the Paleo diet and the Whole30. Ironically enough, most of the people who claim that the Paleo diet is bad for you are being paid on their website by top food manufacturers… interesting ain’t it?
I am not receiving any money from anyone to write this post. Everything stated here is my opinion and facts that I have either learned in my medical training, discussed with my nutritionist who has helped me cope with and naturally handle my MS, or discovered through research. I have yet to monetize this blog, and maybe in the future that might change. We shall see.
As a retired medic, I often cruise the interwebs for health-related articles. I like to keep up on the new science in medical technology and practices, not only to keep up with knowledge but to benefit my health. Some habits are hard to break, once a medical professional, always a medical professional.
I stumbled upon various articles regarding the Whole30. Some people in comments on multiple websites made statements like,
“It didn’t do anything for me, just made me angry that I couldn’t eat what I wanted to.”
Ok… fair enough, free country, do what you gotta do. Eat what you want. It was a 30-day test to find why you feel like crap every day, nothing more, nothing less.
Another person claimed,
“It’s dangerous it made my blood pressure and cholesterol go up.”
I had to stop and pause there, because dear commenter, either you didn’t do a Whole30 and are just being one of the haters, OR you didn’t follow the serving size guidelines.
You didn’t read the pdfs and mistakenly thought the detractors that erroneously state on the Paleo diet you can eat all the meat and protein you want were telling you the truth. You didn’t follow the guidelines for meat and protein servings.
You overindulged, you didn’t portion it out to a playing card size or handful; and you didn’t eat enough leafy greens and rainbow-colored veggies, which should have been making up most of your plate. That is what really happened… *wink wink nudge nudge*
Further stumbling around aimlessly on the interwebs, I came across an article entitled “Is the Whole30 Diet Healthy?” by Sheryl Kraft. Being someone that does a Whole30 twice a year for the past five years, I had to stop and read it.
Ms. Kraft has a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on precisely how the Whole30 works in her article. She has completely missed the mark on the intent of the Whole30. Let’s dive into the article, shall we?
I am also going to point out to you that I have done the Whole30 two times a year since 2013. I have 10 of them under my belt, and I am currently starting my 11th Whole30 today, Jan 4, 2018. I am familiar with how the Whole30 works. I am not merely talking about it and giving an opinion; I practice it.
Whole30 Facts Vs. Fiction
What’s allowed? The diet encourages you to eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, oils, nuts and seeds, and foods that have very few ingredients. So far, so good. With its emphasis on healthy proteins, vegetables and unprocessed foods, the diet sounds promising.
This statement is 100% true.
But what it doesn’t allow are lots of foods, like anything with added real or artificial sugar (that means no maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar and sweeteners like Splenda, Equal, stevia, etc.); any grains (including quinoa); any legumes (like beans, peas, lentils and peanuts); all forms of soy (including soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame); and all dairy (including cow, goat or sheep’s milk products, kefir, yogurt and sour cream).
The Whole30 is about food elimination for 30 days to find out what your body cannot tolerate consuming. Are we that brainwashed as a society that we cannot or cannot be expected to exhibit willpower over what we put into our mouths for 30 days?
If you have ever had any of the following:
Dry, flaky skin,
Insert other chronic disorder here
Guess what? Welcome to SAD (Standard American Diet). You do have some issue with the foods the Whole30 has you eliminate for a paltry 30 days.
Is it unreasonable for a person to eliminate sugar from their diet for 30 days? Aren’t we a society of extreme obesity and diabetes? Load in that sugar, it is ok, regardless of the source. Artificial sugar! Wonderful! BTW, people who serve our country cannot have sugar for 60 days while in basic training. I think most people can handle a mere 30 days, and if you can’t, please don’t go out and try to serve in my Army. Thanks.
Grains, glutens, dairy, and soy, are common allergens that most people do not realize gives them allergic reactions or other problems. Eliminating them for 30 days often makes people wake up to the fact they are allergic. On a personal note, my doctor and I discovered my soy allergy thanks to the Whole30.
I cannot tolerate soy oil either, although soy oil is not required a listing on the allergen chart by the FDA if it is highly refined soybean oil because it is considered safe for people with a soy allergy. That is like saying that all people with apple allergies can eat cooked apples… This is an incorrect assumption. There are over a million of us worldwide who still go into Anaphylactic shock when consuming products with apple juice, which is a cooked form of apples.
Legumes are also a common allergen. Peanuts, for instance, are not a nut, they are a legume. A simple fact most people are not aware of. I have heard so many parents say, “My kid has a nut allergy, peanuts send her into Anaphylactic shock,” only to have an allergy panel come back as clear regarding tree nuts.
I know peanut allergies are high around the world. It doesn’t mean that you have a nut allergy. No, I am not telling you to go forth and eat all the nuts you can get your hands on, but if you suspect a nut allergy, talk to your doctor and get a panel done. You may be surprised that you are not allergic to nuts, and just a particular legume disguised as a nut. This happened to my neighbor across the street who currently enjoys her cashew butter we make every Saturday afternoon together.
Don’t get me started on all the preservatives, artificial this or that, or the dyes that are in all of our packaged food. Convenience is not always the healthier option.
Isn’t it worth 30 days of eliminating common allergen and harmful foods for the betterment of your health later? I think it is.
And if you find yourself anywhere near a scale, you’ll have to refrain from the temptation to peek. You’ll have to wonder if you’re losing weight until the 30 days are up. Same goes for taking any measurements or analyzing your body fat percentage. The diet discourages you from counting calories and focusing on your weight and, instead, encourages you to make yourself healthy and “change the way you eat forever.”
So, does it work?
In some respects, yes. “If you are looking to lose weight, you certainly will … for as long as you can stay on such a restrictive diet,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, and vice president of The Obesity Society and professor of medicine at Boston University.
The Whole30 does tell you not to touch your scale. There is a reason for this. The Whole30 is about finding foods your body cannot tolerate; it is not a lose quick weight scheme. The emphasis on the Whole30 is to heal your body by not eating foods that your body reacts to horribly.
Granted, you probably will lose weight, you will notice that by the way your clothes fit. You don’t need a scale to tell you what your clothes are already screaming at you. One thing most diet experts forget to tell you is that muscle weighs more than fat. If you are doing a Whole30 and are doing some exercise, the scale may actually go up instead of down.
Again, the opening quote at the start of this post from Dr. Apovian already tells you, “You have no willpower, you are a failure… you cannot do this for 30 days. SAD owns you!” If my Pepsi-holic other half can do this for 30 days, who is to say you can’t.
I always would like to point out that the word “Diet” does not only mean a means to lose weight. The term diet according to the definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary also means the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
You would think an MD would know the definition of the word diet. Granted, she is vice president of The Obesity Society, so maybe she can’t see too far outside of the grant box. Just speculation on my part. I am sure she is a wonderful, caring human being.
To me, a diet is a lifestyle choice. I don’t consume a Paleo/Whole Foods diet to lose weight; I enjoy the health benefits I get from it; not to mention, food tastes better when it is fresh and not laden with crap.
Read more about the SAD Food Carnival.
After all, any time you eliminate foods—especially those not-so-healthy-foods that are processed or contain added sugars—chances are good that you’ll lose some weight. And alcohol adds up in the calorie department, too, so by banishing that from your diet (assuming you do drink), you’re slashing lots more calories.
No argument about that point from me.
But short of that, Apovian points out that the diet excludes a lot of “good” foods that are essential to a wholesome diet. “How can you eliminate grains and legumes, which have so much fiber and nutrients and are so healthy for you?”
A long time ago we never had many cancers—because we did not live long enough—but we now need protection from GI cancers with FIBER!”
Again, when you do the Whole30, you are eliminating grains and legumes for 30 days, not a lifetime unless you realize those foods are causing you damage or you go full Paleo. If you can tolerate those grains, not following a Paleo lifestyle, you aren’t giving them up long term. That statement in regards to the Whole30 makes no sense if you understand what the Whole30 is for and what purpose it serves.
I am not going to dispute the need for fiber. Being Paleo, I get more fiber in my diet than the average American eating SAD does. There are other ways to get fiber into your diet than processed, hexane soy laden bread and over processed GMO grains and flours. It is also ironic with all of our overly processed grains that Celiac’s disease, IBS and Crohn’s is so prevalent in our society. Just a little food for thought. (See what I did there?)
According to the UCSF Medical Center,
The American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests eating a variety of food fiber sources. Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements. Currently, dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day. That’s about half the recommended amount.
Another point I am going to make here about GI cancers is personal. Grains and legumes do not prevent you from getting GI cancers. Two Uncles, one aunt, and my father proved that. They were raised every morning to have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Beans were also a commonality in their diets, as well as many other grains.
My father survived his cancer and adopted a Paleo lifestyle. Not only did he beat his cancer, but he has also been in remission for the last six years, and gets more fiber in his diet through peas, split peas, pears, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, berries, avocados, and pears, to name a few. He has even started to add chia seeds to his green smoothies and avocado pudding, flaxseed into his meals, and enjoys pureed vegetable in his soups, stews, and gravies.
I need to ask this question since she opened it up… Did we not have many cancers in the “olden days” because we really didn’t live long enough, or was it because we didn’t have all the chemical laden food to shove into our bodies? When you consider diabetes, cancer and other ailments hit people today at young ages but didn’t run rampant through the Victorian era especially in our children even when people didn’t live much past 70… I think you know where I am going with that thought.
Dairy is an important source of calcium and Vitamin D and protein. And legumes, aside from being high in fiber, are also inexpensive, low in fat, and excellent sources of plant-based protein.
The mention of Vitamin D in milk pisses me off. First of all, Vitamin D in milk is ADDED to it. Milk is NOT a natural source of Vitamin D. The only real source of Vitamin D is the sun. I can promise you cows housed in warehouses for mass production of dairy do not see that great, orange orb in the sky at all or often enough for their bodies to put in natural Vitamin D into the milk they produce.
When a medical professional or nutritionist makes a blanket statement such as the above quote that misleads the general public to believe milk is a natural source of Vitamin D, it becomes a reckless statement that ends up causing misguided harm. Many people are low on Vitamin D, and often they think they drink enough milk so they should be ok, after all, it is a natural source… (Yes, sarcasm…)
Now, remember, the RDA for Vitamin D is 6oo IU per day. There is only 100 IU in an 8 oz glass of milk. How many adults realistically drink more than a glass or two of milk in a day? To get enough Vitamin D from milk alone, you have to drink 6 8 oz glasses a day.
A Vitamin D deficiency is dangerous to you! Without enough Vitamin D, our bodies can not absorb calcium. So the calcium in your two glasses of milk is rendered useless if you aren’t getting enough. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, you can get osteomalacia or rickets.
Without enough Vitamin D you can subject yourself to these as well as the issues listed above.
A weakened immune system
Eczema and Psoriasis
Obesity and inability to lose weight
If you want more Vitamin D
Go out into the sun, turn off that TV or computer, and experience life outside your front door. Vitamin D in its pure form, and guess what, it’s free!
3 oz of sardines contains 164 IU vs. Milk’s 100 per 8 oz glass.
Almond milk has 100 IU in an 8 oz glass, the same amount as dairy milk. (Vitamin D fortified. Just like your dairy milk is. Almond milk also has protein in it, just like your dairy milk.)
Wild caught Salmon has 400 IU in 3 oz
Wild Caught mackerel contains 547 IU in just 3 oz
3 oz of canned tuna has 228 IU
There are many more points in the article I could rip apart and analyze, but I am not going to. I have touched on the misconceptions of that article that bothered me the most. I will be doing posts in the future that tell you how to get calcium and other nutrients if you are Paleo or doing a Whole30 that isn’t dairy later. I am going to point out now that since going Paleo and doing the Whole30, my panels for calcium and Vitamin D show 0 deficiency unlike before I started my first Whole30 and decided the Paleo Lifestyle was for me.
Things I have learned about my relationship with food thanks to the Whole30.
As mentioned above, my doctor and I discovered my soy allergy. Did you know most products in the U.S. contain some source of soy in them? Check the label on the bread you buy, many processed kinds of cheese, even your favorite Hershey bar. I also do not do well if I eat various other legumes. This means you, pintos, and peanuts!
Want to know more about soy in our foods? Check out the Soy Report. Listing is currently ongoing.
Cutting out grains, except for a twice a month indulge of one of my favorite ancient grains such as farro, and a bi-weekly indulgence in a bowl of steel cut oats, I no longer have migraines on a weekly basis that last for three days out of the seven days in the week.
I knew I was lactose intolerant, just like 90% of my family. I clung to dairy for a long time because I loved it despite the pain it caused me. Frankly, I love cheese. The Whole30 gave me the mental strength to realize that constipation and a sore gut is not worth having dairy on a regular basis.
The Whole30 has also forced me to make dairy foods for normal Paleo days that I love by other methods, such as yogurt made with nondairy milk, and cheese made with cashews or almonds. Yes, you read that right. I learned to make cheese with nuts.
I am a 90/10 paleo. I don’t mean only 90% of my day is paleo clean eating. I mean 90% a month. I have a basic routine for some things. Mon – Friday is 100% paleo for me. Sunday mornings I enjoy a splash of half-and-half or whole cream in my first cup of coffee. Ice cream at Josh and John’s is a once a month Saturday outing with my kids and grandkids. I get the tiny scoop, the tiny scoop does not cause me any problems. The other two weeks of the month, I indulge in a serving of farro or steel cut oatmeal, or my homemade chickpea falafel, and some dairy cheese.
The Whole30 taught me moderation of the foods I love that kill my body and cause me pain. Even at Josh and John’s that, frankly in my not so humble opinion is the best ice cream on the planet. There is a reason why they have been voted best ice cream since 1986. If you live in Colorado Springs and haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for?
Some Paleo folk may say that I am not a true Paleo because I do allow myself some non Paleo foods. I am ok with that, they are entitled to their opinion. I also don’t consider my primal and whole food days a “reward for good behavior.” Ancient grains, chickpeas, and a little bit of dairy on occasion doesn’t hurt me.
My family has gotten on the Paleo bandwagon, and when you consider young children watching what their friends are eating, especially cake and other treats, eating an ice cream a couple times a month doesn’t hurt. It teaches healthy choices over crap choices. I am happy to say my children will reach for a piece of fruit on a daily basis before they take an Oreo they are offered. We are Paleo, but we are not dead, sometimes you need to enjoy life a little.
Many Paleo “snobs” will say, “That is not how the cavemen ate.” Well, cavemen hunted for their food, didn’t have a stove or fridge… If you shop at a grocery store, use an oven in your home and store food in your fridge… guess what? You aren’t 100% paleo either. Just saying, and I am entitled to my opinion.
Have you ever done a Whole30 or plan to do one? What other Whole30 Facts Vs. Fiction and common misconceptions have you heard about? Let me know in the comments below.