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Why Whole 30’s restrictive diet did not work for me

If you’re like me and use the Internet for finding healthy recipes, you’ve heard all about the Whole30 program. When I first saw it, I loved its take on healthy eating that’s funny and approachable. Categories like Sex with your pants on food and Food with no brakes had me thinking this program was for me.

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I spent months planning, reading recipes and stocking my freezer with Whole30-approved choices. I was so excited! When I did all my research, everything seemed so positive—this will change your life, everyone said. Well, I felt I needed to share my negative experience to help people contemplating Whole30 see both sides of the program.

At first I felt great. The newness of the plan was keeping everything interesting. I still craved sugar, so I was turning to fruit and Larabars — lots of Larabars, which can be healthy choices, but my diet was suddenly mainly fruit. Without hummus, my carrots where just sitting in the fridge drying out. Without grains, the hungry in my stomach kept growing, as did my hanger.

My once fairly well rounded diet seemed to be getting more and more lopsided. Without a nice piece of toast to help make breakfast filling, I was eating more bacon and sausages. It just didn’t seem like I was being healthier.

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I’m sure the program does work for some people. I definitely believe whatever helps an individual eat healthier is a good thing. So many Whole30 recipes use mayonnaise, and even if you’re making it yourself, there is nothing you can say to make me feel that is part of a healthy recipe. Grains, legumes and red wine are all part of a Mediterranean diet, which is often viewed as one of the healthiest lifestyle choices. On Whole30, my choices were so limited, and some of the food I was limiting had great nutritional value.

There’s no need to feel guilty enjoying some white beans in my tuna salad to help fill me up longer and give some antioxidants to my day .

For me, any type of restrictive diet is not a good choice. As someone who struggled with eating disorders as a teen, whenever I’m faced with a set of food rules, I find myself obsessing over them. I was constantly thinking about food and my diet, which definitely helps lead to my constant hunger.

Instead of having a small bit of chocolate when I was craving it, I would just spend all my time thinking about it. Before you knew it, I would be sitting on the kitchen floor eating frosting out of the container. Some may call quitting Whole30 after just 19 days a lack of self-control, but for me it was what I needed to do in order to maintain my healthy lifestyle.

I don’t think food should make you feel guilty. I firmly believe in everything in moderation. If I’m in the mood for fried chicken, I’ll make myself some and pair it with a nice salad. As long as I am cooking all my food, I have complete control over what goes in my body — I don’t need a program to tell me what I should and shouldn’t eat. I know my body, I know how it feels, and from now on I’ll be making all the decisions of what goes into it, not letting the raving opinions of strangers on the Internet dictate what’s good for me.

More: 4 Diet fads to avoid to help you lose weight

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