To the Anti-Diet Community, Please Do Not Shame Whole30 Dieters


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

To my dearest anti-diet community, I get it. I totally get that every diet post, cleanse and celebrity detox makes your skin crawl. I. Get. It. I’m on your team, but I am not behind the shame storm that happens when someone decides to go on a diet or change their eating habits.

Recently, I awoke at 3 a.m. — because my brain deems it a great time to wake up — and began scrolling through Instagram. I was taken aback by the diet war happening on Brené Brown’s latest post about Whole 30.

There were countless comments shaming Brené for her decision to do the Whole30 diet. I then saw that Glennon Doyle Melton (my other hero, or as I like to say, “she”ro) recently posted a Whole30 picture a few days earlier as well. The comments were in line with what I saw on Brené’s picture.

All I have to say to my fellow anti-diet community is: be nice. These two women have written best-selling books and changed countless lives, including mine. I believe they know what is best for them.

My favorite mantra lately is “You do you.” I believe people should do what makes them feel happy and alive, what makes their hearts beat a little faster. In most cases, people should take care of their bodies in whatever way they see fit. Of course if you are struggling with an eating disorder and feel like you need a little extra help and support, please find a therapist and/or a nutritionist near you. I am happy to connect you. But whatever you do, don’t shame others for their diet decisions. Advocacy does not mean shame and judgment. Advocacy is leading by example, promoting your message through your channels and being kind to others with opposing thoughts and feelings.

Do I support the Whole30? No, it isn’t for me. Any diet for me is a slippery slope back into my eating disorder. Also, my husband might die if we didn’t have pretzels and beer in the house. I honestly don’t know much about the Whole30 diet, other than it is 30 days of eating “clean.” It should also be said that the term “clean eating” makes my skin crawl. I don’t think my pretzels are dirty, but you do you, and I’ll do me. And I certainly won’t insert my opinion on Brené or Glennon’s life choices.

Often times, we want to jump and say “No diets!” Trust me, my close friends can attest to receiving my anti-diet soap box over the years. I used to be very quick to judge, pleading with my friend and giving her all the reasons why she should not diet. Today, I still stand firm on my soap box, but I try to remind myself the best way to promote my message is to live it myself – not shout it in unwilling ears.

For many of us, a diet led to a lifelong battle with an eating disorder, crash dieting and all around unhappiness. I get how it can be triggering and you want to save everyone from the same dark rabbit hole. But for many other, diets will simply be that – a diet. Will the diet work for long-term success? Maybe not, since many diets end up failing. But again, you do you.

My first encounter with the Whole30 happened in January. I was at a friend’s house and her co-worker was over explaining how she was on Day 20 of the Whole30. I was intrigued and asked her about her experience. This woman knew what I did for a living and tried to explain it as a “lifestyle change.” I went back and forth a bit on why I hate the term “lifestyle change” when it comes to diet, but she explained her reason for going on the program.

Her fall had been fast and furious and the holidays followed. She did not feel good in her body, not necessarily from a weight perspective, but she felt sluggish and foggy. She went on to explain how much energy she has and how great she feels. Her diet is filled with wholesome food, no calorie counting or rigid schedules. She enjoyed the meal planning and prepping. So I get it. I get some people’s reasons for wanting to reset. Some people need a plan to restart. I can totally get behind that. I don’t agree with cutting entire food groups or denying ourselves the calories we need to survive like many diets do.

However, we have to remember there are two sides to having a healthy relationship with food: flexibility and meeting nutritional needs. It is a tough balancing act. In fact, lately I have been trying to get more veggies and fruit in my diet. The reason? My life has been fast and furious this spring and I haven’t been feeding my body enough of those nutrient packed foods. I’ve been on the road, grabbing and going.

When I finally landed home two weeks ago, I decided to take this next month to slow down, do a bit more yoga and get some color back in my diet. I also use my extra time to sit down and enjoy Easter candy and chocolate with my kids. I believe it is all about balance, moderation and flexibility. But again, that works for me. I don’t know what works for you. Now, would I recommend one of the young people I mentor to try the Whole30? Probably not. I would direct them to talk with their therapist and nutritionist if they feel like they need to make diet changes.

The diet industry is sadly one of the most robust and booming industries. We can’t rid the world of diets and guess what? That’s OK! We can’t stop others from dieting or changing their food habits whether it be by slowing down, or by doing the Whole30.

We can lead by example, showing those around us what it means to love and take care of our bodies. We can admire and connect with like-minded people, people who make us feel good and people who challenge us, but we can’t shame others for trying a diet or lifestyle change. We can’t be quick to judge.

Brené and Glennon share so much of their lives with us, but at the end of the day, we don’t know them (even though I claim them as friends in every talk I give, “My bestie Brené/Glennon/Ellen says…”) At the end of the day, we can’t put people on a pedestal. We are all humans, trying to get through this thing called life as best as we can. No one is higher than the other. When we place people on pedestals, they will inevitably fall off and that fall hurts us more than it hurts them.

And if you are thinking of going on the Whole30 or a diet, I would simply caution you and ask you to reflect on your motivation. Weight loss does not equal happiness, despite what society says. On the other side of the coin, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in your skin. Remember that health is mind, body and spirit. Do what you love, move your body in a way that excites you and challenge yourself to make every day count. So to Brené and Glennon, rock on. You do you and I’ll do me. And I’ll keep loving you, buying (and recommending) your books, quoting you, photoshopping myself into pictures with you and claiming you both as my besties.

With a “whole” (see what I did there?) lot of love and gratitude,

McCall

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via a_namenko.

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