I obviously did some reading up on Whole30, and what that entailed, however I am having some issues with some of the arbitrary and militant choices that they’ve made with regards to the program. I still definitely agree with the loose context of the plan, but I’d say how I’m eating is far closer to very strict paleo than Whole30.
If you slip up once, start over. – This is ridiulous. While I get where they’re coming from, and if you are actually having some sort of negative reaction to things, then yes, this can derail you. But telling you that if you slip up once, you have to restart 30 days of very restrictive eating is totally insane. This thought process effectively ends an otherwise fairly healthy kickstart to what many would consider a healthful way of eating. On Saturday, we had an all-day rifle match. I was good, had a healthy breakfast at home, and sat and drank my tea while my companions had breakfast at McDonalds. When I was hungry later, I ate some hard boiled eggs, cherries, and grapes that I had packed and brought with me. When the match was over, many of the shooters wanted to go have burgers at a nearby bar. I wanted to go and hang out. So you know what? I did. And I didn’t get a burger. I got chicken wings, and didn’t dip them in the bleu cheese dressing they gave me. I also got sweet potato fries. I’m willing to bet that both of those things were fried in canola oil (the horror!). I didn’t get a beer or soda, I got carbonated water. And you know what? I got home that night and felt fine. And the next morning? I got up and continued on eating healthfully. And Sunday? We had dinner at my in-laws’ house. And my mother-in-law hid some shredded cheese in the spinach salad(she didn’t know I wasn’t doing dairy). When I found it, I did my best to pick it out, but I didn’t let that stop me from eating the salad that I had already put on my plate. For me, the purpose of doing Whole30 is mental reset, and I am not going to alienate myself for the sake of someone else’s arbitrary rules. See below.
Organic? Not necessary – I get that for a lot of people, getting organic/pastured/grass fed stuff can be difficult or expensive. Guess what? So is not eating grains, legumes, etc. If you are going to the effort of following their militant rules regarding not slipping up, why in the hell would you not bother to make sure you’re putting high quality and healthy food into your body? I’m not advocating being totally inflexible about only eating pastured pork, organic berries, etc, but shouldn’t that be an emphasis?
Fruit juice – OK… So no added sweeteners, except fruit juice? WHAT?! This makes so little sense! If the purpose of no added sweeteners is to change the reward pathways in your brain? Why would you allow people to add sweeteners in the form of fruit juice? Guess what? It’s still sugar. And of the 3 types of sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose) fructose is the most prone to be turned into fat. Fruit juice is primarily fructose. Honey has more sucrose, which is a combination of fructose and glucose. Basically, if you’re going to be using any kind of natural sweetener, they should all be allowed, or focus on the ones least likely to be stored as fat. Fruit juice is arguably less natural than honey.
Oils – This is something that’s been bugging me a great deal about paleo and the “healthy fat” advocates in general. Based on my understanding, which admittedly isn’t as far reaching as I would like it to be, the 2 main fats that we are focusing on are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. So we all know that O-3s are good for you. I’m not entirely sure how commonplace it is for people to know, but there have been multiple studies linking a high O-6 diet to heart disease. So while there isn’t anything inherently bad about Omega-6 fatty acids, having a high O-6:O-3 ratio can increase your likelihood of developing heart disease, arthritis, asthma, cancer, etc. Where most O-6 fats come from are seeds/grains/legumes. Corn oil, soybean oil, etc are some of the biggest contributors to the American diet (which is on average a 23:1 O6:O3 ratio). \ This also translates into eating animals that have eaten the grains. Grass fed beef contains between 2-5x as many O3 fatty acids than grain fed does. There are also other reasons to eat grass fed beef, but that’s for another rant. The main purpose of this is that both paleo and whole30 suggest avoiding chemically separated oils (that means soybean, corn, or any type of “vegetable” oil). Mechanically produced oils contain far fewer detergents, so are theoretically healthier, but ALSO, this helps you to cut down on your high O6 oil consumption, focusing instead on higher O3 ratio oils. Those include olive, avocado, etc. There are also some seed-based oils that are allowed, but it is recommended that they be limited. An example is sunflower seed oil, which is pretty much only O6 fats, however is generally cold-pressed, so it fits into the “rules.” Where I start to get irritated is the “light olive oil” thing. I keep seeing paleo blogs espousing how great their light olive oil mayonnaise is. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple decades, many olive oils are not entirely olive oil. They cut olive oil with cheaper oils(such as peanut or canola), then export it and sell as extra virgin. Light olive oil is usually not even close to entirely olive oil, and if it is, it has been chemically refined, making it not paleo. Stop using light olive oil and expecting it to have all the great health benefits of extra virgin, it won’t.
Gluten – OK. I don’t really see a reason for people to eat grains, other than they’re delicious. But, I think for many people, there isn’t really a problem with eating them occasionally, and specifically, gluten. Yes, Celiac disease does exist, however “gluten sensitivity” has essentially been proven to be hogwash. The problem that people have with “gluten” is more likely due to the type of carbohydrates in the grains, and not so much due to the fact that they contain gluten. When people cut “gluten” out of their diets, they’re also generally cutting large amounts of FODMAPs (fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates), and that is likely what is causing them to feel better. So yes, eliminating gluten from your diet without eliminating FODMAPs is not going to fix anything.
Calling this Whole30? Craig and I had a discussion about me calling this Whole30. Realistically, it is not. However it seems stricter than standard paleo, and it most closely aligns to Whole30. For the sake of SEO, I am still going to continue tagging these posts as Whole30, but they are essentially just strict paleo, for a 30 day period. It’s more about the commitment that I made to cut stuff out of my diet that I am not benefiting from, and make a more concerted effort to pay attention to what I shove into my face