In a world filled with slim-fast miracle pills and entire racks of bookstores dedicated to outlining the “perfect” diet, a new health trend has taken ahold of students at John Brown University.
Many students are currently participating in The Whole30, a 30-day meal plan designed to reset the digestive system and give participants a new outlook on foods that can be detrimental to long-term health.
The point of the diet is to recondition the body and mind to eat healthy foods instead of instantly gravitating towards harmful cravings.
“The beginning was really hard,” said Heather Brewer, a junior at the University “All I wanted was a Pour Jon’s bagel.”
Brewer began participating in The Whole30 on September 7, and is planning to follow the guidelines to completion.
The Whole30 is considered very limiting in what it allows participants to consume.
Some of the foods that are off-limits include added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy and carrageenan, a common food additive. Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds are foods the diet allows.
“It was honestly way harder than I thought,” Brewer said. “Everything seems to have sugar in it.” Those participating in the Whole30 are supposed to consciously deny the temptations that they have in order to promote the habit of healthy eating.
While many diets encourage using substitutes and alternative recipes instead of unhealthy meals, the Whole30 advocates that participants simply learn to eat different foods.
“You look at the Pinterest boards and all the recipes you can make and you think to yourself ‘Oh, I can do this. This won’t be that hard,’” Brewer said. “But then you realize how long it takes to actually cook your meals and how much prep work goes into actually making meals and getting the food for it.”
Brewer says that the Whole30 can be expensive and time-consuming, as participants need to have consistent access to a kitchen and a grocery store.
Junior Emily Tumilty echoed Brewer.
“I quit on day eight of the Whole30,” she said. “I had no energy. Making every meal in my kitchen was not convenient in the slightest with my insanely busy schedule, and I was in a bad mood all the time.”
While the Whole30 diet is definitely not for everyone, Brewer said that there are benefits to participating.
“A big reason why I haven’t quit and am continuing all the way to day 30 is because I am teaching myself that I can do hard things,” Brewer said.
“So many times I say ‘no’ or give up on things because they’re hard but this has really taught me a lot of self-discipline.”
She also said that the diet gets easier the longer you commit to following the rules. The first few weeks, participants usually feel sluggish and tired, mainly because their bodies are filtering out unwanted waste and fat.
“By the halfway point you really start to feel a change in your system,” Brewer said. “Your body starts to pull energy from the correct sources and your body literally resets itself.”