‘Just Eat Air’ Is The Gist Of The Whole30 Diet, And It’s Making Diet Culture 30 Times Worse

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

In a world of diet boomeranging, Whole30 is doing way more harm than good.

I am vehemently against the Whole30 diet. Vehemently.

Every time I hear someone say they want to begin it, I restrain myself from having a very adult and NSFW hissy fit. No, really.

Like most diets, the Whole30 is a fad that will come and go. The website says it is a cure-all diet “designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract and balance your immune system.”

I’m going to go ahead and call BS on this one, and I don’t even have to try the diet to say that. And trust me, I will NEVER be trying this restrictive jumble of lies.

Here are some other claims listed on the Whole30 website:

“This will change your life.”

“It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food.”

“Food freedom.”

We’ll unpack all of that, but first, here is what you CANNOT eat on Whole30: sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, MSG, sulfite, carrageenan, baked goods, junk foods and treats. That’s a lot, but there’s even more within those categories.

Within sugar, you cannot have maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, any artificial sweeteners or date syrup. (How the hell do you have anything yummy?) Under alcohol, it states that you cannot even use it for cooking and that you should refrain from tobacco (even though that’s not alcohol…).

Here’s a doozy: In grains, you cannot eat wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn (even though it is a veggie), rice, gluten-free things or starch products from the above. YIKES.

No legumes. That means beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts. That’s right, no peanut butter either. Oh, and this also includes soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame and soy sauce.

No dairy means no cheese, cream, milk, yogurt, kefir or ice cream.

And the “junk food”…don’t even get me started on that phrase. Actually, please do get me started. It’s a good rant. This means you can never eat pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, pizza, cereal, chips, fries and so on. I just wrote a book on all the things you cannot eat while on this “diet.”

Oh, and the best part, here is the mantra of the diet: “When in doubt, leave it out.”

It would have been a heck of a lot easier to state what you can eat: meat, fruit and veggies. That’s it.

So basically, you can eat air.

Aside from the laundry list of things you can’t eat (which I can sum up very easily: anything enjoyable), there are so many other issues with this trend.

It’s restrictive. It makes going to restaurants impossible. It basically means tossing out all your previously purchased food once you start. It eliminates all the food categories that give you the energy to function. It removes a huge amount of variety and vitamin sources.

Worst of all, it takes all the joy out of eating.

A huge problem with diets, in general, is the list of “cannot eat” foods. When your body cannot have something (meaning, you put it on a “bad” list), you cannot satisfy the cravings you have for these types of foods.

Craving something cold and soft? Something like ice cream? Too bad, it’s on the bad list. Better have some carrots instead. Because that totally fits the craving.

And what happens when you don’t satisfy a craving? You have it even more. Trust me, I know from experience. (I’m looking at you, anorexia.)

This diet is basically an eating disorder waiting to happen.

When I was deep into my eating disorder, I basically ate like this, only with the exception of dairy. At that time, a good ten years ago, a diet like this was called “Paleo” (and that one is BS, too). I lost weight, for sure, but I also felt like I had been repeatedly thrown against a wall. Even getting up required too much energy.

When you pull out TONS of food groups, you label those foods as bad and unhealthy. You restrict what you can eat. In no way, shape or form is this “food freedom.” It’s food hell. It’s purgatory. It’s literally anything but freedom.

Now, some people could do this and not end up with an eating disorder. But if there is even a little environmental or genetic vulnerability for an eating disorder, this would be a great catalyst for activating it.

As for changing the emotional relationship with food… see the above. If everything becomes off limits, any slip up in the diet would come with guilt, shame and anger.

That is NOT emotional freedom. So yeah, it will change your relationship with food. Badly.

Here’s another issue: When you remove things like grains and beans, you remove readily available sources of energy for your body. If you want to exercise, a great pre-workout snack is something starchy, like a granola bar, because it is easy for your body to digest and use as energy. If that source isn’t available, say goodbye to your energy and hello to a whole host of other problems.

When I didn’t have energy from starches, my body ate my muscles. Seriously. It started to eat itself. That is something I will never be able to fully recover from.

Any vegetarians out there? Well, not for long if you’re planning on trying Whole30. Go back and look at the do not eat list. All of the non-animal sources of protein are on there. No beans. No tofu. No peanut butter. Guess you are going to eat veggies, fruit and seeds for all of eternity. As a vegetarian myself, that sounds like hell, even loving fruit and veggies as much as I do.

Oh, and one last thing. Whole30 is continuing the horrible habit that calls food good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, clean and whole. Food does not have these values. To say a food is bad or good gives it a power it should never hold.

Food is nutrition. It is a source of energy. It is not good or bad.

All foods fit in moderation and balance. Our problems do not stem from eating a cupcake. Our problems come from eating a cupcake and then beating ourselves up over it, labeling it as bad and telling ourselves we’ve failed. A cupcake is not the enemy here. Society is.

Where is the intuitive eating trend?

Where is the diet that tells us to honor our body signals and what sounds good?

Where is the diet that DOESN’T label any food as good or bad?

Oh wait, that wouldn’t be a diet. That would be just eating, intuitively, honestly and in tune with your desires.

Stop contemplating eating air with Whole30. Do your body, brain and soul a favor and pick up intuitive eating.

That’s true “food freedom.”

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

IMG_4747

Advertisements

I’ve Got Incomplete Classes, Yes, But My Mental Health Still Comes First

*article originally published on The Odyssey Online*

For most people, summer is a time without coursework, tests and classes. Not for me. At least, not this year. I have two incomplete classes to finish in addition to my summer class. And you know what? That’s OK.

Before this past year, I had never taken an incomplete in a class. I was always the “perfect student,” getting my work done *mostly* on time, making good marks and staying up until the wee hours of the morning to study or finish a project. I was good at school. It was my “job,” and I did it well.

At least, until last semester. This past spring, I did something a bit… unusual. I put my college success behind my mental health.

If you really think about it, staying up until 3 a.m. to study for an exam, working 5 hours straight per day on coursework, not sleeping, not eating properly, stressing out all the time… it’s not healthy. It gets the job done, so to speak, but at the expense of our well-being, whether we realize it or not.

For years, I didn’t realize it. I didn’t even consider how unhealthy and detrimental these habits could be. But after getting my mental and physical health back on track during a gap year between my freshman and sophomore year (yes, I am supposed to be a junior, but I am a year behind, and that’s OK too…), I stopped thinking all of the crazy measures we go to for an “A” would fit neatly into my life.

There is an unspoken competition on college campuses: Who can get the least amount of sleep? Who is the busiest? Who was up the latest working? Who is taking the most credits?

It is unhealthy. It puts what really matters — mental health — aside.

The truth is, your grades in college don’t matter. No, really.

They don’t matter nearly as much as your mental well-being.

They don’t matter nearly as much as taking care of yourself appropriately.

Your grades in college mean nothing if you are not able to function because of stress, anxiety or exhaustion.

I may have had to take incompletes, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be nearly as stable in my mental health as I am now.

I still have depression spells. I still have anxiety and feel overwhelmed. But I don’t work through the night on studying or projects like I used to. I sleep. I eat food. I get fresh air. I drink water (because you cannot live off coffee, as much as I tried…and sometimes still try to).

I may have incompletes, but that doesn’t make me a failure.

I may have incompletes, and that is totally, completely, 100 percent OK. Because I am putting me first. For once.

This article was originally written for and posted on The Odyssey Online in Aspiring Journalism Professionals. 

xoxo

IMG_4747

Why I choose cruelty free products and how you can too

*trigger warning: difficult discussion of animal testing conditions*

~

~

~

~

~

DSC_0054

Charlie’s 1st Birthday Photoshoot!

If you know me, you know I am obsessed with my bunny, Charlie. Obsessed.

When I got Charlie and when I went vegetarian, I also started to research the make up industry and learn a bit more about animal testing. I went vegetarian for moral, ethicalreasons; I started buying cruelty free for the same reasons.

Animal testing is horrendous. Animals are subjected to experiments and treatments that often cause them intense pain. But, unlike us, they are helpless to do anything about it. Did you know that part of animal testing could be removing organs? Yep. You read that correctly.

Here are some other facts:

  • “We estimate that the top 10 animal testing countries in the world are the USA, Japan, China, Australia, France, Canada, the UK, Germany, Taiwan and Brazil, in that order.” (Facts and Figures on Animal Testing)
  • Supplying animals for testing is a multi-million dollar industry (What is animal testing?)
  • There are different kinds of animal testing (Types of animal testing)
    • research questions looking at future medical answers
    • genetic modification
    • regulation testing
  • Estimate for animals used for testing yearly is AT LEAST 115 million (Facts and Figures on Animal Testing)
    • That is over 9 million a month, 2 million a week, and 340k A DAY.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… (If you are interested in learning more, you can visit Cruelty Free International, this do-something article about animal testing, and the Humane Society International page. And for a REALLY amazing and comprehensive article on animal testing, you can visit this. )

So, how can I tell if something is cruelty free? Well, here is the tricky part… There are a lot of different messages about animal testing on labels and they aren’t all the same. Some companies say “not tested on animals” or “cruelty free,” but no one monitors this claim. Basically, it’s an honour code type thing (seriously, think back to college take home tests and how they tell you not to use the book but it’s really up to you if you abide by the honour code and listen to that… that is the same thing here). You can dig into this further and go online to the brand website for more information. There is the PETA cruelty free symbol, which means that PETA monitors these standards. And there is the Leaping Bunny symbol, which is arguably the one you want to look out for on products! Leaping bunny is the highest standards of cruelty free, making it the safest bet for cruelty free products.

Picture comes from Cruelty Free Kitty.

 

Here is another tricky thing… some parent companies are not cruelty free, but some of their branches are. For example, bareMinerals is cruelty free, but Shiseido, which is not. I will occasionally still by these brands (I love the matte lipstick from bareMinerals. I had tried it before I went cruelty free in my purchases), but I try to stick to totally cruelty free companies.

Where can you find cruelty free items? Actually, they are everywhere. You just have to know a few brands you like that are cruelty free. And there are a LOT of resources out there to help with that.

My personal favourite source of cruelty free information is Cruelty Free Kitty.  I absolutely adore this site. On it you can find guides to cruelty free products at Ulta, Sephora, Drugstores, Amazon, etc. I totally recommend taking a look around! These guides will also tell you if a parent company is not cruelty free, which is SUPER helpful.

As for me…what are my favourite cruelty free products? As a college student, I have to be a bit frugal with my spending, especially on make-up (which can get REALLY

IMG_4210

All of this make-up… it’s cruelty free!

expensive! Looking at you non-cruelty free Lancome and L’Oreal!). So I tend to go for the lower cost make-up. I mostly use Essence, which is a cruelty free brand you can find at Ulta. I love the brand. It’s not expensive and it feels pretty light!

I use method cleaning products at home, when I can! I am still making a transition to cruelty free in the home area! I throw out as I finish and then replace it with a cruelty free or homemade version! Cruelty Free Kitty has a list of cleaning brands if you are interested!

Why  should I switch to cruelty free? Honestly, I can’t tell you this. It’s your decision to switch and to know why you want to! For me, I would think about animal testing and immediately imagine my Charlie being the bunny in there. I couldn’t handle that thought. And I can’t save the animals who are still being put through these horrific tests, but if I can avoid buying things that support the practice (just like I don’t eat meat or fish for the same reason), I will ABSOLUTELY do that.

xoxo

IMG_4747

 

pleaser vs. rebel

Sometimes you have to do hard things you don’t want to do to get to the outcome you desire. Sometimes you do them without a second thought, either because you don’t want to face the dissatisfaction or because you simply don’t think about the task at all. Sometimes, however, you think about it a lot (maybe too much) and it pisses you off.

Or… if you are like me… you do the last thing every time. You think, dwell, simmer, get angry, and then come to terms with it (hopefully). You realize, ultimately, what you don’t want to do is simply a means to an end.

I do all of these and more. I am, as some tend to describe me, a “mix of wanting to please people and rebel.” Which, frankly, is a shitty combination because it means I have an internal dialogue with very different, opposing voices.

“You need to do the thing because it is what will make others the most happy.” 

“Rebel. Definitely rebel. Don’t let them control you.” 

Every. Damn. Time.

There, in my mind, is a fine line between being controlled and being asked to carry out something. I often struggle to find the divide and tread lightly down the middle. I have a very strong sense of individuality and tightly held beliefs surrounding personal rights and expression. It is, in some ways, what helps to make me “me.”

My thoughts are not often political–though personal expression and cultural norms seem to be becoming more and more prominent in some areas of politics anyway. Frankly, I don’t know what ideology I hold in the politics realm… I am still trying to find out and I probably will be developing and then re-developing those beliefs for a long time to come.

What I do know, however, is that I despise how one’s appearance can limit, influence, or determine what jobs you get, how well you are paid, and the way one is perceived in the workforce and society.

I am not shy about my piercings. I have a lot. I think they are done tactfully, and I find them to be a wonderful means of personal expression. I dye my hair. I love to change it up (though by change it up, I mean different shades of red because I LOVE RED HAIR). I wear black. It’s my color of choice and in what I feel most confident. I do not dress “feminine” and that shouldn’t matter–regardless of my heterosexuality. Sexual identities can be fluid and diverse and whether or not someone “looks the part” is simply a societal standard stuck in the past. I say this because I am aware that I am an individual with privileges not afforded to some and I, in no way, want to downplay others’ struggles.*

But in a landscape rife with people wanting you to “fit in,” personal expression makes it hard to comply… and I don’t want to abide by their rules anyway.

In my new job, as a server, I see a lot of different people. Some might be a bit alternatively dressed–in a way similar to me when I am not in my uniform–while others would disagree or look down on my choices of expression. In this industry, to make money (tips) you have to conform to the majority–whether you want to or not. I don’t want to. And here is where the “pleaser vs. rebel” personality of mine comes in again… fit the mold and make more money… or be yourself (at least piercing wise) and potentially get less for it. Ultimately, because we work be a shared tip system, I decided to “fit” a bit more. Whatever the hell that means.

It was a hard time coming to that decision. I dealt with some personal doubts surrounding my expression after someone implicitly called me a whore for the way I looked and scolded my choice to wear more earrings that I “should” as well as have a nose ring instead of a stud. (For the record, “more” meant less than half of what I COULD be sporting and very conservative jewelry).

Hearing that I am “whore-ish” was not pleasant and it made me doubt a lot of my choices. It made me look in the mirror and wonder if all of these piercings suit me or I just tricked myself into thinking they look good on me. It made me self-conscious and insecure and quiet because I, all of a sudden, doubted most of my being. I am not surprised I had this response for a bit, considering my past (and current) struggles with body image and self-worth.

But consider that a comment such as the above could create that much of a response… it’s plain sad.

I put too much worth in what others say to me. It is the pleaser part of my brain. But the rebel will then hop in with a “fuck that” and I tend to move on… after a while.

My choices should have absolutely NO effect on whether I am worthy of pay for my work or a higher position. But they do. Because in a society like ours, people believe that everything should be there to please THEM. Of course, not everyone is like this, but I am speaking in a general sense for the ease of this discussion. Just like my sex can limit me (looking at you lower pay for women in the same position as a male counterpart… that is STILL a problem), my appearance can.

But guess what… neither SHOULD.

This is not a small issue to fix. It is not something that CAN be fixed in days… months… maybe even years. It is society wide. It is ingrained in beliefs. It is insidious.

I don’t support it. I never, ever will. And I will, ALWAYS, be the rebel when it comes to fighting these inherent judgements. The pleaser part of me gets shut the fuck up.

 

 

 

*I want to make it clear that I do not and cannot say I understand all the struggles of not conforming to what others (and the greater society) think you should look like or be. I do, however, understand a select amount.