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Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by the Co-Creator of the Whole30 Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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—Gretchen Rubin, New York Times best-selling author of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project
“Eating clean can be tough, but Melissa makes it easy! Her philosophy truly works, without counting calories or being a slave to the scale. Her program, the Whole30, helped change my own philosophy on food and how I eat. Food Freedom Forever is a must-have for anyone who wants to make changes in their life. . .and make them last.”
—Molly Sims, model, actress, and lifestyle blogger
"I’m a huge fan of Hartwig’s Whole30 Program, and Food Freedom Forever picks up where Whole30 leaves off by tackling the mind-body connection as it pertains to your relationship with food. Our health and wellness goals are often sabotaged because we are at the mercy of our food…controlled by food addictions, unhealthy habits, even perpetual calorie counting that locks us into an obsessive tug-o-war. Food should be a source of sustenance and enjoyment, and Melissa helps bring the enjoyment back by providing tools, tips, and suggestions for creating an extremely personal prescription for healthy eating. I loved this book and truly think it can help anyone stuck on the treadmill of yo-yo-dieting and weight troubles.”
—Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, publisher of MarksDailyApple.com
“Food Freedom Forever gives you everything you need for achieving dietary success, for today and for the rest of your healthy life. Melissa Hartwig’s information is spot-on in terms of scientific validity, and wonderfully approachable in terms of its implementation.”
—David Perlmutter, MD, author, #1 New York Times bestseller, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers
“Step away from the calorie counting, food obsessions, and unnecessary restriction. In Food Freedom Forever, Melissa Hartwig delivers a sustainable, healthy diet that will fuel your mind, body, and spirit, and place you in control of your food for life.”
—Emily Deans, MD, Harvard Medical School
“I'm a ‘real food’ registered dietitian who believes the standard low-fat, high-carb, ‘everything in moderation’ advice is complete nonsense. Repairing our relationship with food is critical in order to live a happy life, and Melissa’s plan in Food Freedom Forever is exactly what does work for my clients. This is no crash diet, and it’s way more important than a weight loss plan—it’s the beginning of the rest of your life!”
—Diana Rodgers, RD, LDN, NTP
“Nutritionist Hartwig (The Whole 30) presents dieters with a guide to developing a healthier relationship with food. Organized into 14 easy-to-follow chapters with titles such as “Diets Don’t Work” and “Spot Your Triggers,” and written in a highly conversational and candid fashion, the book lays out a doable program designed to allow readers to gain a sense of control over their eating. The crux of the program, and where it begins, is with the process of eliminating troublesome foods linked to overeating and cravings. Upon completion of this strict 30-day period, dieters will reintroduce certain foods, one at a time, in order to identify which are most problematic. Though elimination diets are not new, Hartwig’s approach differs from others, such as J.J. Virgin’s Virgin Diet, in being primarily focused on psychological well-being rather than weight loss. Refreshingly, readers are assured that falling off the wagon is not failure, but just part of the process. Hartwig succeeds in making the case that seemingly uncontrollable desires for food truly can be conquered with hard work.”
“Hartwig is a co-creator of Whole30, a program based on the elimination and reintroduction of potentially troublesome foods. This is not a diet, according to the author, but a lifetime plan aimed at stopping cravings, healing inflammation, and allowing eaters to savor and enjoy food without guilt. There are three parts to the plan: resetting (eliminating potentially troublesome foods, then reintroducing them systematically after 30 days), enjoying food freedom, and acknowledging slip-ups. Hartwig, a certified sports nutritionist, expands the original Whole30 structure by offering customizing options while still insisting on strict adherence to the chosen program. Hartwig supports her approach by citing scientific studies she interprets as demonstrating that the brain thrives on limited options. Promised results include less stress, better sleep, improved digestion, and more energy. What make this book particularly valuable are Hartwig’s emphasis on non-scale-oriented victories and her practical strategies for handling inevitable backslides, naysayers, and stubborn old habits. The prospect of food freedom is appealing, and Hartwig’s conversational style and no-nonsense stance make her plan seem doable. This is sure to be a popular purchase.”
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For that reason, I expected a lot out of this book. She originally said (and says again in the book) "I wrote this book for you"--people looking for the answer to "I finished the Whole 30--now what?"
A lot of the concepts in FFF hinge on whether eating Food Xyz is "worth it" based on a number of factors (previous experience eliminating/reintroducing the food, the specialness of it, the circumstance surrounding your desire to eat it etc).
She references the Sugar Dragon (a concept introduced in previous blog posts/books) and briefly touches on "food with no brakes" (another concept from her first book) but some of the advice in this book seems counterintuitive to those concepts, thus making everything kind of muddled. How can I eat a cupcake whenever I want, if I decide it truly worth it, but avoid waking the sugar dragon who loves when I eat food with no brakes, such as the cupcake.
She references her previous drug addiction and some tools she learned in recovery that can be applied to your relationship with food. Except that you wouldn't tell an alchoholic they can have wine sometimes or an addict they can do a line if it's really worth it etc. An addict has to have a complete severing of the relationship with that they are addicted to--obviously not possible with food but maybe possible (or necessary) with some TYPES of food or drink or the ways in which you consume them.
I feel there was a big opportunity missed here in this regard-- sometimes, when you have used food as comfort or reward or social lubricant or celebration etc, it's always worth it. You eat it/drink it even though it has consequences because it makes you feel better in the moment. I wouldn't necessarily label this disordered eating (which Melissa has said before none of her programs are for/address)--there's not a person on the planet who hasn't, at one time or another, eaten or drank too much, turned to chocolate or a cupcake when they've felt stressed or down or become attached to a food routine (a snack and tv in the evening, coffee every morning before anything else etc). So then instead of having a solution for managing these situations, the advice is do it, when it goes too far/get too bad go back to the beginning and reset.
Another Hartwig-ism is "riding your own bike"--what you do after the you take off the training wheels of relearning about food on the W30. I felt like instead of advice for what to do when I'm getting tired riding my bike, or it starts to feel like I'm all uphill or on rough roads, the advice was ok go back to flat roads and training wheels. So it's just re-riding the same well worn path over and over and over again.
I've levelled up. I'm not where I was when I came to whole 30. Respectfully, I was looking for guidance for this new level.
If you've read the previous book and are a regular follower of w30/Melissa on social media, you have heard a lot of these concepts and ideas before.
In fact, if you're coming to the book from W30 and/or the previous books, the first third-first half will be old news. I get it from a publishing perspective, that they want the book to be able to stand on its own independently and not require previous knowledge, but it's kind of a downer when a significant chunk of your new book is stuff you've read/learned before.
What I was looking for in this book was this: I've done the Whole 30, I lived the lifestyle for years, I am extremely well versed in which foods make me more or less healthy. Overall, my diet is on the "dirty end of paleo" which is to say very clean in terms of the majority of daily diets (ie the "bad food" I am eating is not highly processed artificially coloured food-like substances, it's eating the good foods too much or too often) The problem is, I don't know how to quit the ones that make me less healthy. I always think of the Robert Downey Jr quote “It’s like I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth, with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal." My brain knows the right behaviour and why, and that I feel better when I eat whole30ish, but I can't stop turning back to sugar, or cream, or overeating. I've had to tell myself, I know those foods make you feel good, but not eating them feels good too, just in a different way.
Maybe that wasn't Melissa's intent with this book, or it's beyond the scope of her experience or understanding. But with the title of the book being "Food Freedom Forever" and not "Eat a Cupcake if it's Worth It" I guess I was hoping for more.
The book may still have value for people who are new to her ideas or are looking for tools to further their food experience beyond W30. When I read It Starts With Food it changed my life. FFF sadly did not.
And Melissa, when you read this, I still love and follow you, the book just wasn't what I had hoped.
I will also say this: Melissa does state that Whole 30 isn't for people with a history of disordered eating. I would go so far to say that this book isn't for chronic dieters looking to break the cycle either. Once the shiny newness wears off, like it does with any diet...or reset, you're back in the same spot with your willpower spent.
There's a great book called Intuitive Eating that helped me break the diet cycle AND the remarkable thing is, I'm basically eating mostly Whole 30 recipes now a days, but not after a long process of learning to turn off the food police. I'd definitely recommend that one if this just isn't what you were looking for.
First, the content of this book is not based on emotional eating or eating problems. It is pretty much the Whole30 packaged with a new cover. There is nothing new here but it's marketed about changing the psychology of your eating for those people that are YO-YO eaters or have food issues. Let's face it, if you are doing a lot of Whole30's you probably are.
As indicated in some of the less favorable reviews already mentioned she basically advocates that you YO-YO on and off Whole30, I even read the book twice just to make sure I didn't miss something.
I can only give it 2 stars because there was no new content and I didn't believe in her message at all. Yes, I know a Whole30 isn't a "diet" - it's a "reset" but restricting major food groups over and over in new ways does nothing to help a disordered eater. I think one of the problems is the author will admit that she hasn't suffered from disordered eating herself. It's clear she just doesn't have the voice to really help people in this matter and no amount of her "tough love" approach will change the message here.
Anyway, I didn't like the message and I felt it was just her way of trying to capitalize another book off the Whole30 brand. Who can blame her to try? As mentioned I love Melissa- she has made a business and a national movement out of eating whole real foods, what is not to love? I even follow her on Instagram-But this book was just a miss. There are other books on intuitive/emotional eating that are much better and to be honest I kind of think her method as described could do someone more harm than good. Lastly, I know Melissa mentions Whole 30's might not be appropriate for people with a history of disordered eating but this book is marketed to help someone who might have emotional issues with food.