Response to Whole30‘s “Natural Disaster Preparedness Guide”

I have included a link at the end of this post to the original “Whole30 Natural Disaster Preparedness Guide”. Please note that the article contains messaging that may be triggering and/or shaming for anyone with a body. 

Dear “The Entire Whole30 Team”,

I am writing in response to the letter you recently published (and unfortunately shared with millions of innocent onlookers), outlining your horrifyingly mind-blowing “Whole30 Natural Disaster Preparedness Guide”. The article is a prime example of how the diet industry (Whole30 included) is more concerned with making money and selling products than they are about the health and wellbeing of human lives. It disgusts me that you are willing to utilize real-life recent tragic events as a way of shamelessly promoting disordered eating, just so that you can make even more money. I’m wondering if any of you actually know what a natural disaster is? Perhaps you do, and even so, you clearly lack the slightest concept of what it means for someone to both survive and endure the aftermath of a true natural disaster. 

Eat Good Food? How About: Have Good Morals!

I have never had to face the utter devastation and grief of being in a natural disaster, so I will not claim to have any understanding of what that experience is like. However, based on what I have witnessed through the accounts of others, I can imagine that there is immense pain, sadness, shock, confusion, anger, and hopelessness, in response to losing belongings, shelter, access to clean water, friends, and in many cases, family. People’s lives are turned upside down. I personally find the thought of having to re-build a life from scratch to be unimaginable, and yet, I have so much empathy for the people who live this reality. It seems unfathomable to me then, to assume that people (individuals or communities) can, or even worse, should be focused on “eating clean” foods, when they may not have access to food at all. Asking humans, yes real live humans, to prioritize dieting over picking up the pieces of their lives following a major catastrophe is ignorant, lacking dignity and humanity, and demonstrates just how privileged and horribly unaware of your privilege that you, the Whole30 Team, really are. 

Evidence: Less is More? 

Shame on you Whole30 Team, for claiming that calorie restriction may be “beneficial” during a natural disaster, because, hey, you have lost everything else in your life, why not lose some weight while you are at it!? How can you actually feel like good human beings when you are encouraging starvation... oh waaaaait, that’s the entire premise of Whole30... I almost forgot. The article you reference when lying about how calorie restriction can lead to a longer life (which we actually know is not true), is 1) not an evidence based article or research study, 2)  refers more to information on trees and specific types of bacteria than actual humans, and 3) has NOTHING to do with natural disasters. It claims that some (unknown and un-cited) “research” proves that “less is more”, but does not include any actual information or statistics to back any of it up (read: this is a bunch of bullshit, not actual science). At the end of the article, the writer states that living a longer life actually has nothing to do with number of calories a person eats, or amount of physical activity they engage in, but rather, depends mostly on individuals having “more robust repair processes” in their genetic makeup. 

What we do actually know from evidence based research is that calorie restriction is not sustainable long term, and that “restrictive dieting and weight cycling can lead to physical complications including slowed metabolism, reduced muscle tissue and body temperature,
and eating disorders.”, and that this is true for people of all weights (1, 2). *see actual citations with actual evidence based articles below*

How To Stock Up On Foods You Can’t Actually Eat

It sounds like you, Whole30 Team, are attempting to prepare people for extravagant glamping (glamorous camping, in case you were unsure) with Gwyneth Paltrow’s orthorexia club, or a relaxing summer at the magical beach house that somehow manages to be narrowly missed by every natural disaster ever. 

You do realize that if a person loses their entire house, and all of their belongings from their house, that this most often also includes their freezer and refrigerator in that loss... right? And correct me if I am wrong, but most natural disasters don’t leave people equipped with a grill, or a can opener, or a blender to make Whole30 approved smoothies each morning. Unfortunately, if people follow this plan, and happen to hold onto even some of their food stash, they will have no way to prepare or eat it. Meanwhile, the lucky #SayNoToWhole30 folks will be graciously eating a Snicker’s bar that they felt “tempted” to stock up on, rather than worrying about how ingesting gluten or casein will affect their morality or reputation. 

Also, where are the carbohydrates in your preparation instructions!?!?! Clearly y’all missed the lecture in nutrition 101 about this vital, as in, required for living, macro-nutrient. Glucose is the #1 source of fuel for the brain, and the quickest form of energy. Without it, the body uses up fat stores (poorly) and breaks down muscle mass in order to continue functioning. But according to you, who needs fat or muscle following a natural disaster, especially when you have luxurious organ-meats trapped in a sealed can? Please, please, please, try to understand one thing, if nothing else: Bodies need food. Stressed bodies need food. Bodies on all areas of the size spectrum need food. All food is food. Period. 

Stay Away... From My Food... And My Body. 

I actually hope that all of you on the Whole30 team follow your own advice, and plan for a natural disaster according to the guidelines you set out. That way, when a fire, or massive earthquake, or devastating hurricane strikes, there will be more readily available, and more sustainable sources food for everyone else to have access to.  And when you are unable to find a can opener for your organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, Whole30 approved coconut milk, please don’t ask me for a bite of my fucking Snickers bar. 

And finally, here is my own personal natural disaster plan... feel free to take what you like and leave what you don’t, because you are your own best expert. 

  1. Be in community. If possible, find people to connect with and create a system of support.
  2. Drink water when it is available to you. 
  3. A natural disaster is not nature’s way of putting you on a diet. Respect and care for your body. Eat food when it is available to you without guilt, shame, or judgement. If you have a life threatening food allergy or medical condition related to food, obviously avoid those foods. 
  4. Ignore the Whole30. 

XO, An Entirely Pissed Off Nutritionist 

https://whole30.com/2017/09/disaster/

1. Bacon L. (2008). Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. Dallas, TX: Benbella, pp. 47-49.
2. Karelis AD, et al. (2008). Metabolically healthy but obese women: effect of an energy-restricted diet. Diabetologia, 51:1752-1754.