Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by Melissa Hartwig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Food Freedom Forever was written by Melissa Hartwig as a follow-up to her book The Whole30.
An elimination diet, the Whole30 is designed to help individuals identify food sensitives and to better understand how certain foods impact their health and how they feel.
As far as elimination diets go, it's nothing special, but for those who did not read her first book, the process is well covered in this book.
Ironically, I'm not a huge fan of elimination diets, although I can appreciate how they are sometimes useful in certain circumstances. As the mother of a daughter with Celiac Disease, I am all too aware of how detrimental some foods can be to some people.
That said, what I loved about this book was not her Whole30 program. It was everything else. Hartwig is extremely insightful when it comes to the pitfalls of dieting, and she offers some legitimate solutions to making sustainable dietary changes. For example, she encourages readers to stop making moral judgements about food, classifying them as good or bad. Instead she says that we should see our food choices as either consistent with our goals or inconsistent. She addresses slip-ups (or making unhealthy choices) and how to put them into context so that they don't spiral into the "What the hell" syndrome.
She talks about will power, its limitations and how to stretch it. She explains why having a plan (an "if/then" scenario) can make a huge difference in how we respond in different situations. She stresses the importance of remembering we have choices and that those choices should be made based on a benefit/cost analysis. What does eating this piece of cake cost? What do I get out of it? Is it worth it? I also love that she says you might be better off to throw away something you don't like, rather than eat it because you feel committed after you take that first bite. I tell this to my clients all the time. Don't use yourself as a trashcan. If you have left over cake from the party, give it away. If that's not an option, throwing it away may be better than wolfing it down simply because it is there daring you to eat it.
As a health coach, I find that many clients I counsel have an extremely unhealthy relationship with food, and the idea of "food freedom" is really what many of them crave and need if they are to ever truly achieve their goals. I also like the idea of a reset since we all need resets from time to time as it implies that eating healthy is generally an ongoing challenge, not something we master in 12 weeks.
In fact, I found her insights so helpful that I am going to have a client read it as homework for our sessions.
The Whole30 program is not for the faint of heart. It may also not be for everyone (or even most people). Elimination diets are not easy. And while they may be useful, they may also set you up for failure. If you really intend doing an elimination diet, I would highly suggest you do it under the guidance of a nutritionist or dietician.
However the Whole30 aside, this book is filled with great insight and lots of useful advice. For example, the last portion of the book which deals with support structures is extremely helpful. Her analysis of why some people may want to help you while others may seem less than helpful was spot on. Lots of good information.