It’s Insane That This Restrictive Diet Is A Hit On Instagram

oprah and stedman love turnips

Considering how I just scrolled through fifteen photos of my friends eating Cheetos, making sand angels, holding dogs, and filtering their selfies, I was surprised to read that all of Instagram is currently on the same strict diet. That’s the story according to Elle, at least.

Basically, a large number of Insta users are participating in the Whole30 program– a version of the Paleo diet that forbids sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes. (See also: Gwyneth Paltrow‘s wet dream.) People are posting pics of #salmon left and right, I guess, in the hopes that Whole30 will get them in shape for #beachselfie season. As a vegetarian who’s spent her whole life thwarting annoying questions about “Where does your protein come from?!”, I try to reserve judgment about what strangers choose to eat. Besides the fact that you’re not allowed to make even tiny mistakes, lest you allow “inflammatory foods to break the healing cycle,” as its website says, my only issue with this diet is that too many people are trying the same thing.

It’s really hard to prescribe an eating plan to large groups of people, considering a) everyone’s bodies are different, b) everyone’s lives are different, c) most diets don’t account for the number of people who struggle with disordered eating, and d) what works for one person might be a horrible system for someone else. I tend to reject fad diets in general, and even though I personally eat somewhat similarly to the Whole30 plan, I’m turned off by the way it’s packaged. I feel like diets that don’t leave any room for mistakes can send people down a dangerous path and teach them that it’s more important to be COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH FOOD than it is to make healthy choices. But, as I said, this might work wonders for someone whose brain works differently from mine. I’m decidedly not a nutritionist, so go with god. (Or Goop. Go with Goop.)

Via Elle / Photo: Oprah’s Instagram

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    • Kaitlin Reilly

      The worst thing about Whole30 is that if you mess up once (like, I don’t know, breathe in the air around chocolate chip cookies) you have to start ALL over again… even if you’re on day 20. Not my thing at all. (Even if those Instagram photos are pretty.)

      • Lauren Lever

        That’s ridiculous. You only start over if you intentionally eat something off plan. It is designed so that you have a healthier relationship with food, not freak out if you happen to have a crumb of something that is not compliant. I have gone through two whole30′s and I am pretty sure that I had something that was cured with sugar, but I didn’t beat myself up about it and I still consider the challenge a success.

      • Kaitlin Reilly

        That’s awesome that you liked it, and I definitely could use some of the Whole30 principles in my own diet (more veggies, less sugar and processed foods = great way to stay healthy)
        For me, I know that total deprivation for an extended period of time is just going to make me want an entire tray of cupcakes, rather than just a bite of one. Wish I wasn’t wired that way! I could probably do a Whole5, but then I’d like at least a bite of carrot cake. But hey, I’m all for people doing what works for them, so if you love it, keep it up!

      • Lauren Lever

        I totally get that, but I think this bit of “tough love” inspired me to at least try it:

        From the site,

        “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written…”

      • Kaitlin Reilly

        True words! I’m all about moderation, but I do understand that philosophy.

    • Kay_Sue

      <<<<<< Is on Instagram and did not realize she was on a diet.

      • Tinyfaeri


    • Jenni268

      I used it as a base line to then go on to figure what works for my body. By cutting out everything I’ve been able to find what I can personally handle (moderate amounts of dairy) and what I can’t handle at all (soy). I do wish so many people were not just using the program to lose weight, since that is not what it was designed to do. And, like any other program out there, there are going to be people who jump into it without doing the necessary research. When you do that with any program (low carb, vegetarian, vegan) you run the risk of damaging your health.

    • Rebecca

      Here’s the thing. If you’re doing whole 30 for digestive and inflammatory issues then yeah, you should probably try to stick to the 30 days, it’s like a body reset, and trust me, if you have debilitating auto immune issues it’s absolutely worth a try! I’ll happily live off meat, veg, and sweet potatoes for a month if it means I can actually you know, open a door without feeling like someone took a knife to my wrist, or go out for a date night without ending the night with explosive diarrhea:) (yeah, I went there) it can be life changing if you have food based health issues. But if you’re doing it to lose weight then hey, there’s no one cracking a whip to keep you on plan. The 30 days is a guideline to get the inflammation out, not for weight loss. Plus I like how the creators offer the plan for free. The book is good, but everything you need to know is on the website. I just don’t think it’s relevant to compare this to a weight loss plan.

    • markmywords

      This sounds extemely similar to what my family and I have been doing for the past three years. No dairy, no grain (= gluten free), no white sugar, no legumes, no eggs, no nuts, almost no fish, almost no soy and a few more things we had restricted from our family diet. We all have/had food allergies. My S.O. and I did an even stricter diet to reset the body that was just for a week, so we could find out what the allergies are. It also helps to tone the allergic reaction down. Our kid, who is suffering from the many and some lethal allergies, could not be put on such a strict diet, so we (= I) learned to cook and bake, so that our kid had a sense of normalcy at home, everyone eating from one table, no extras, no ” I can eat it but you can’t”. My S.O. lost his allergy after several months of elimination. Our kid is showing the first signs of healing, being able to eat things that have caused strong reactions in the past. This kind of diet is pricey and quite alot of work (I literally cook and bake everything from scratch). It’s also hard in regards of social events. Hardest for me is the pity everyone seems to feel because my kid can’t (and we won’t out of solidarity) eat junk food or have a chocolate easter bunny etc.. My kid is not feeling deprived, because I do everything to not let this feeling come up (which would lead to an act of defiance one day that could be lethal) but if everybody tinks it’s horrible you can’t have milk chocolate, you might start thinking the same…
      However, this is not a diet to lose weight but to get healthy. I believe alot of people have intolerances and allergies to food and don’t know it. I also think that nowadays most people have some kind of inflammation in their body. So you can just win with this diet. It’s not easy but it’s totally worth it.

      • markmywords

        Just went to the site and read those rules. I think they are unnecessarily strict. Yes, there are people allergic to corn, but rice usually is fine. White potaoes, too. I also think that when you don’t allow someone to get creative with their cravings, people will finish the program and won’t come back unless their health is so bad, they have no choice. As said, I’ve been doing this for years and I look at things in the long run. The human body needs time to recreate himself; regarding to allergies, it takes years to “forget” the allergy. Leaving someone frustrated “just because” will anchor a bad memory feeling and people will shy away from this program in the future.