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10 mins

Melissa Hartwig Urban: Create Your Own Food Rules – Transcript

Read the transcript of Caitlin’s interview with nutrition expert Melissa Hartwig Urban.
by Carrie M. King | Feb 14 2019

Caitlin Schiller: Welcome to Simplify. I’m Caitlin Schiller.

Ben Schuman-Stoler: And I’m Ben Schuman-Stoler. What’s up?

Caitlin: You are. It’s my favorite thing about you. Alright. Today, we have Melissa Hartwig Urban who is one of the creators of…

Ben:The Whole30. Nice setup, Caitlin.

Caitlin: I think you knocked it right off the tee for me. Awesome. Beautiful, right? So we talked to Melissa Hartwig Urban, or I talked to her, about the book The Whole30. It’s a book. It’s a plan. What it is not, and some people misconstrue it as pretty often, is a diet.

Ben: Yeah.

Caitlin: I really thought it was fascinating the way that she framed it in the interview about how it’s not actually a diet. It’s a plan for you to like sort of have a blank canvas to figure out what actually what foods are good for your body. What does do your body good?

Ben: Right.

Caitlin: The Whole30 will help you figure it out.

Ben: Solid. So why did you want to talk to her in the first place?

Caitlin: I wanted to talk to her in the first place because A) it’s been a really long time since we’ve had an interesting nutrition person on the show, and I thought it was time. So there’s that. B) because I have friends who’ve done the Whole30 and had really, really wonderful results with it and felt great afterwards and learned new ways to cook and new ways to think about food and I thought that she’d be she’d be worth talking to and it was an interesting program

Ben: So, what was the one thing that people should kind of look out for in the interview?

Caitlin: Hmm. Well, I think that the biggest thing for me is this idea that she posits it’s how you show up for the Whole 30 is how you show up for everything else in life. That’s a pretty balls-to-the-wall statement right there, but it’s kind of true and that it shows what kind of grit you’ve got and how you approach challenges because you’re eliminating pretty much all the things that we in the west think makes food fun. Salt, alcohol, added sugar, grains. You name it. You can’t eat it. But you can’t eat lots of other delicious stuff. So it is a big challenge and I think that the idea for how you show up for this for thirty days of eating. whole foods in is a mirror for how you show up for other challenges in your life.

Ben: Cool. So I mean I would suggest we just roll the tape. We can talk a little bit more about like addiction and food, for example, in The Bookend and we can talk about we can recommend that one book that also has to do with nutrition in Simplify history.

Caitlin: Yes. All right. Let’s do it. Let’s roll the tape!

Caitlin Interviews Melissa Hartwig Urban

Caitlin: Hi Melissa! Thanks so much for joining me today.

Melissa: Hi Caitlin. Thank you for having me.

Caitlin: Great. It’s great to talk with you. Before we get started, could you just introduce yourself the way that you like to be introduced?

Melissa: Sure. My name is Melissa Hartwig Urban and I am the co-founder of the Whole30 program. I’ve written seven books about the Whole30 and I specialize in helping people change their habits and their emotional relationship with food.

Caitlin: Easy question to start out with: is the Whole30 a diet?

Melissa: No, you know, it’s a very common misconception. And I suppose the word “diet,” the way we think about it, and the word “diet” in the way that I use it are very different. So when you say the word “diet” a lot of people think about, you know, a calorie-restrictive weight loss protocol built on deprivation and restriction and willpower. But the Whole30 is kind of the anti-diet in that sense. We’re not about weight loss. We’re not a quick fix. We don’t count or restrict calories. The program is really a reset in the truest form for your health, habits and relationship with food. So when I use the word “diet,” what I’m really talking about is just a way of eating, not the sort of diet mentality that we’ve all been culturally sort of triggered to think about.

Caitlin: You said that it’s a way to reset your relationship with food. How does the Whole30 do that exactly?

Melissa: Sure. So we have very complicated and long-standing emotional relationships with food. Food is not just food, food is reward and punishment, it’s comfort. It’s a way to self-soothe and relieve anxiety. For some people, food is the only way to show and receive love, and this leads to a very complicated emotional relationship with food. And the way that our food is created now, you know, salt on top of sugar on top of fat concentrating the calories like sweeter and saltier and fattier than anything you could find in nature only adds to this dysfunctional relationship.

So the Whole30 works from a few different perspectives to reset your emotional relationship with food. From a physiological perspective, the Whole30 is designed to reduce systemic inflammation, to help you manage your blood sugar better, to reduce cravings, to provide a healthy hormonal balance. But from an emotional and habitual perspective, by removing the foods that we so often rely on for things like relieving anxiety or boredom or fear or self-soothing, and forcing you to find other ways to show yourself love and to provide self-care, you’re establishing a new pattern and a new habit and ideally, breaking that unhealthy relationship with food associated with these kind of negative emotions.

Caitlin: Wow, that’s pretty deep. Yeah, so this this sounds a lot like not a diet. That’s like deep psychology. What was your journey with the Whole30? How did you come to believe so deeply in this way of eating?

Melissa: So my journey with the Whole30 started long before the Whole30. I’m actually a recovering drug addict. I’ve been clean for almost 19 years now. And when I got clean so many years ago from drugs, that’s when I started focusing on eating healthier and going to the gym and I changed my friends, and I changed my habits and my routines, and where I hung out, and the music I listen to. I really adopted this like big picture growth mindset because I knew that that robust change was what I needed to stay clean. And as a result of eating healthier and going to the gym and kind of getting involved with fitness far more, I undertook a self-experiment in 2009 where you know, I was already eating pretty healthy. I was very fit. I was kind of like a healthy person at my office, but the idea proposed by my original co-founder was, “You know, what if we just like cleaned up our diet the last like 20%.” Based on some of the research he had been doing in some of the research evolving in nutrition science.

So we did this 30-day self experiment which was to become the very first Whole30 in April 2009. And all these physical changes happen, things I didn’t necessarily expect: my energy improved and really leveled off. I was sleeping better. My mood was happier. My cravings were down. But what that 30-day experiment really highlighted for me were all of the ways that I was using food like I used to use drugs. And it was very surprising for me to realize that I was using food as a reward and food as punishment, and food to self soothe. I never really identified all of those ways until I did this experiment and remove those foods from my diet for 30 days. And it was such a powerful transformative experience, a permanent transformation that I decided to share it on my personal blog. And that was really the birth of the program.

Caitlin: Yeah, transformative is a word that that I’ve heard a lot about the Whole30. And its transformative power comes from partially how radically different this is from how a lot of especially Americans tend to eat. Could you just for people who haven’t heard of the Whole30 before, could you just take us through a really brief snapshot of the kinds of things that one might expect to be eating on the Whole30?

Melissa: Absolutely. So on the Whole 30 for 30 days, you’re focusing on eating whole real nutrient-dense food. So it’s meat, seafood and eggs, lots and lots of vegetables and fruit. So we eat lots of plants on the Whole 30, you’re eating fresh herbs and spices, and natural healthy fats. So it’s kind of like the way you would imagine like your great grandparents ate, where you’re putting real food on a plate and you’re cooking it and it’s, you know, wholesome and delicious.

It is very different than how we’re eating especially in today’s kind of Western fast food convenience culture. And so, you know, a lot of people will sometimes look at the Whole30 and say, “Well that’s so radical.” And I think it really speaks to today’s food and diet culture that we think about cooking and eating real food for 30 days in a row as like this radical self experiment or change.

Caitlin: What were the things that you noticed? What were the first actual visible health changes that you noticed? And what were the first I guess behavioral health improvements you noticed?

Melissa: What I noticed immediately probably into the second week was my energy. That I no longer felt like I needed coffee in the morning to wake me up, that I no longer had this like 2 p.m. kind of head on desk slump that required a little hit of sugar or another little hit of caffeine. My energy like went up and just really equalized so that through the day my energy felt very even. I also didn’t need to eat every two hours anymore. So I was one of those people where I needed to eat every two or two and a half hours. If I didn’t get that food, I would get really cranky and I just thought that was kind of normal. Well, I’m very active and of course I need to fuel my body.

Now once I became more fat adapted and was less reliant on sugar for energy, I was able to go four or five hours if I had a busy day or a lot of meetings. And my energy stayed consistent, my focus was consistent. My mood was consistent. Those were really staggering changes. Like just those alone would have made this a really worthwhile experience. So physiologically, I noticed those things.

Behaviorally, first of all my mood really improved. I was far more social. I felt happier. I was at the time managing a team of about 20 people in my office and we would have these Monday morning meetings. And I walked into a Monday morning meeting. And we were just kind of chatting with people. You know, “how was your weekend, and what have you done” and a few of the people looked at me kind of quizzically and one woman said to me like, “What have you been doing?” Because I was so much more outgoing and so much more like kind of relaxed, my anxiety, I think, was down. My sort of type A in an unhealthy way had sort of relaxed. So those are all of the really surprising benefits of just this like dietary change.

Caitlin: Wow! Have more people reported anxiety levels to be lower?

Melissa: Yeah, that’s a very common experience and when you dig into the science, and this is not my strong suit. I’m not a researcher or a psychiatrist. But when you dig into the science, there are a lot of connections between mental health and inflammation, specifically related to certain food. So gluten for example is very commonly problematic and can be inflammatory and is very closely correlated with conditions like seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety, even OCD. So making some of these dietary changes you can see profound results in things that you might never associate with your food.

Caitlin: Very interesting. Okay, so then there are obviously tremendous benefits as you’ve just told us about in your own journey. What are the things that people are going to have to give up that they tend to be really unhappy about on Whole30?

Melissa: I really like that I got to talk about all the stuff you do eat first. What you are eliminating for 30 days. And again, it’s just a 30-day self experiment. We’re not saying these foods are bad. We’re not saying you never need to eat them again. We’re just saying these foods according to the literature and my clinical experience are really commonly problematic. So let’s pull them out, put them back in very carefully and systematically and compare your experience. So that’s the essential protocol.

You are eliminating for 30 days all forms of added sugar. So that’s even the natural stuff like honey or maple syrup, even artificial sweeteners, even stevia. If it’s got sugar on the ingredient list, It’s out. You’re eliminating all alcohol for 30 days. You’re not eating any grains, so no wheat, rye, barley, rice, not even pseudo grains, like quinoa. You’re pulling out all legumes. So beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and all forms of soy. And you’re eliminating almost all forms of dairy with the exception of like a clarified butter or ghee. So that’s no cheese, that’s no milk. That’s no yogurt for the 30-day period.

It’s really important for me to say that we’re not saying these foods are bad for you or not good for you, right? The point is that in the literature very commonly these foods are problematic to varying degrees across a broad range of people. And you won’t know if or how much they’re problematic for you, until you do the self experiment where you pull them out, and then you add them back in at the end, and you compare your experience.

Caitlin: It’s really nice to hear you put so much emphasis on the fact that you’re not saying any food is bad and you should never eat it, but it’s about what works and doesn’t work for your body. Because a lot of the reviews that I read in preparation for talking with you today. I read the book and was very excited about it personally, but of course, you know, you always have to go and see what the internet says. And so many people seem to get it wrong and claim that what you’re saying is, you know, “you can’t eat grains, you can never drink alcohol, you can’t eat cheese and you can never do it again. And that sounds like exactly the opposite of what you’re actually suggesting.

Melissa: It is the opposite of what I’m suggesting. You know, the Whole30 is so different from everything else out there. And we have all been just adopted into this diet culture where the only sort of, and I’m using quote fingers right now, “health initiatives” we can make which I’m really is really just a pseudonym for saying like weight loss initiatives we can make, are about these people telling us what’s good and what’s bad. And it’s this one size fits all approach: carbs are good carbs are bad, fat is good fat as bad. These foods are good. These foods are bad. And it’s like a one-size-fits-all for everyone.

And intuitively, we all know that there is no one-size-fits-all, there can’t be that’s, you know, that’s illogical. But until the Whole30, there’s never been a really good way for you to determine what works for you. So people get it wrong if they do very cursory glance of the program and they say “Oh, for 30 days it looks like a boot camp where you can’t eat this stuff, and these foods are bad.” But that’s not really the point of the program at all. There’s no good or bad. There’s no morality attached to food. You are not good or bad based on what you put on your plate. This, you know, the dietitians out there who say, “You have to figure out what works for you.” People go, “Yes, that makes sense. I would love to.” How do I figure out what works for me? And the Whole30 is how you do that.

Caitlin: Right. Okay, so it’s really a tool to figure out what your body actually needs from you in terms of nutrition.

Melissa: Exactly. It is it’s just a tool. It’s a self experiment. That’s it.

Caitlin: Cool. What do you think this dichotomy is about? Why do we play this good-food bad-food game. It seems just so counterproductive.

Melissa: I think there’s so much information out there, especially now in the age of the internet and social media. We have access to more information than ever and it is overwhelming. You know, you’ll read one article one day that says coffee is good for you and it can promote these positive health effects, and then like two weeks later you’ll read an article saying, “coffee is bad and it contains all these contaminants and you should be very careful about, you know, drinking it.” It’s very confusing.

And because diet is so confusing and because so many people do feel out of control with food and feel like they, you know, have this dysfunctional relationship in their habits or sort of out of control, they just want to be told what to do. Honestly, it’s so overwhelming and so confusing. They just want someone to tell them what’s good and what’s bad. And then you get these kind of diet books or gurus out there who say, “I have the one true way.” And they sound often they’re very extreme, you know, it’s you know, “don’t eat any carbohydrates at all ever. Nobody ever needs to eat any carbohydrates.” Or its, you know, “don’t ever eat blue foods” or whatever it is.

And because it sounds extreme and it’s kind of sexy and it’s very they’re coming out of the gate very definitively. I think people gravitate toward it. They may think like “Well, this is the one thing that I’ve been missing.” But of course, you know, it’s not. None of those have ever worked for people for sustainable kind of health improvements. And you know, the research even shows that caloric restriction in general is not a good approach for sustainable weight loss.

So I think it makes sense why people are always coming out with these like this is good, this is bad, very definitive programs. But I’d like to present a counter voice which is, you know, you’ve got to do some work up front and do this self experiment and figure it out. But then you get to create your own rules.

Caitlin: Well, that sounds fun.

Melissa: Yeah, I think so.

Caitlin: I think that everything you just said rings really really true to me that people just want to be told “what is it I have to do to make this work for me.” And I think that it also people like to have a combination of enjoying being able to be more “moral” of an eater than someone else. And I have seen some criticisms that say the Whole30 promotes that kind of energy. What do you say to to reviewers who would say that your plan makes people wrongly associate morality with food?

Melissa: So again, you know if that’s your criticism, I don’t think you’ve done more than like a cursory glance of our program. Because in every book and throughout our website and over social media we’re very, very clear that there’s no morality attached to food. That like your self-worth is not attached to your diet or your scale weight or your health, and that’s a message that has, you know, over the last almost 10 years that’s been like on the forefront of Whole30 messaging.

I do think that people who do the Whole30 get such incredible results. It is so often such a life-changing experiment. And it’s not about attaching your worth or your value to the program. It’s about the idea of adopting a growth mindset.

Mindset is so important and something I talk about so much. Where if you’re trying to change these habits, it can be very difficult to step out of this idea that “Well, I’m just not healthy. I’m not a healthy eater. I don’t have control over food. I’m not an exerciser. I’m not a healthy person.” And when you adopt a growth mindset and you think to yourself, “I am a healthy person with healthy habits. I am Whole30.” It’s not about attaching yourself to the 30-day diet protocol. It’s about stepping outside of your current version, your current fixed mindset, and really, really kind of understanding that you can become who you want to become, in part through joining this community of supportive positive welcoming Whole 30-ers, and making these dietary changes as a first step towards implementing all of these big picture lifestyle kind of health-focused protocols.

Caitlin: Yeah, it sounds really, really radical. Changing the way that your body is and the way that your body feels can really change a mind. So I guess that we can move on to the more behavioral aspect of what happens when someone tries the Whole30 and actually completes the 30 days. They go through this transformation that we talked about before and that can also be really really bewildering.

Melissa: Yeah. It is a really big change and as interesting or sort of paradoxical as it sounds, I’ve discovered that people sometimes cling to these negative self-images, they cling to their illnesses or they cling to their pain, or their overweight, you know, nature for a variety of reasons. We really support people through this big picture behavioral change again by emphasizing that they are not the product of the food that they put on their plate, that their self-worth is completely separate from what they’re eating. But also having them make this association that how they show up for the Whole 30 is how they’re showing up in every area of their life. The challenges they have on the Whole30 are the challenges they have elsewhere and the victories that they have on the Whole30 are victories that will spill over into every area of their life.

So, honestly, the Whole30 is about food but it’s not really about food at all. It’s how you know, we get people in by saying “it’s a 30-day dietary experiment” but they realize well into like maybe their third week of the program that it’s not really about food. It’s about self-care and self-worth and standing up for yourself and your relationships, whether it’s how you show up at work or with your friends and family or with your partner or your kids. It’s so much bigger than that.

And what’s so cool is because the Whole30 is so well at this point so well-structured, so well supported, there’s an enormous community behind it to have success with the Whole30 and we make it as easy as possible at this point to find success because we’ve been developing and refining the program for so long, allows you to then take those successes and bring them into other areas of your life. And that in and of itself just doing the Whole30 can be a total game changer because you went into it thinking “this looks really hard. I’ve done something, you know stuff like this before, I haven’t been able to stick to it, I’m not sure I can do it” and then you come out the other side and you did it. And that experience of doing something you weren’t sure you’d be able to do is so powerful. It helps your self-worth and your self-efficacy and your self-confidence and it will spill over into every area of your life.

Caitlin: It’s really nice to hear. Melissa, what do you find that people worry a lot about when they’re trying to improve their health that they really don’t need to be worrying about?

Melissa: That’s a really good question. I think people focus so much on the scale. The scale has become the central figure for people’s health improvements. And when you think about it, the number on the scale going up or down doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about your health. So you can lose weight in a really unhealthy way, think like a crash diet or starving yourself, or you can gain weight in a really healthy way like losing body fat and putting on muscle if you’re going to the gym.

So I think people worry so much about the scale and then they attach so much of their self-confidence and self-worth to it, where every morning they step on the scale and that number dictates whether they have a good day or a bad day, whether they feel good about themselves or not good about themselves.

And I think if people could just remove that like focus on obsession with weight, it would open their eyes up to all of the amazing ways that changing their diet can have a positive impact on so many areas of their life, that they’re kind of blind to because they’re so focused on the scale.

Caitlin: I think that’s that’s a really good observation. Absolutely. The scale doesn’t tell you as much as you think it does and just makes you feel crazy.

Caitlin: Absolutely. Melissa, if you could just share one central concept about why eating this way might be a good idea for a listener, what would it be?

Melissa: I think food and our relationship with food is incredibly foundational for so many other areas of our life. So, you know, you can make changes to, you can start an exercise protocol. You can start meditating, you can work on stress relieving practices, or walk more, or spend more time in green spaces. All of those things would be very helpful in general for your health, but I find that looking at your relationship with food and changing the food you have on your plate, and doing the Whole30 is the kind of the one change that you can make that will add positive impact to all of those other areas.

Caitlin: Thank you. That would be a lovely note to end on. We’re almost there. But I have two more things that I wanted to ask you about.

Melissa: Okay, great.

Caitlin: One of them is what have you been reading lately that you like? Simplify is a podcast that’s made by my company Blinkist, and we deal with non-fiction books. And I always like to ask the authors that I get to talk to what they’ve read lately that they’ve really enjoyed.

Melissa: Absolutely. I am a voracious reader. I read like most people breathe. And I’ve made any kind of a habit of reading every single day. And I usually have one fiction and one nonfiction going. Yeah, so I just finished a nonfiction book called Contagious by Jonah Berger and it’s all about like why some ideas go viral and take off and the commonalities between those ideas and it was fascinating in part to think about it in sort of parallel with the Whole 30 because the Whole 30 is really grown via word of mouth. We haven’t done any marketing or advertising like it’s just word of mouth. But also because we have a lot of people I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs that’s one of the areas in which I speak and lecture. And if anyone’s looking for their idea or their business to take off, I just think it was a really fascinating read. So that’s something I just finished.

Caitlin: Cool. All right. I have one last question for you and thank you for sharing your reading recommendations or what you’ve enjoyed. There are so many great recipes in The Whole30 and I know that so many of them revolve around eating a whole fresh vegetables. And I polled the office and I asked people what their least favorite vegetable was and unanimously it seemed to be brussels sprouts.

Melissa: Oh, yeah.

Caitlin: What is there that you like to do to brussels sprouts to make them palatable?

Melissa: Okay. So basically the key to liking any vegetable is to roast it in some kind of healthy fat. So you line oven tray with some parchment paper, you cut the vegetable up into kind of uniform sized pieces, you add some melted ghee or maybe duck fat or some extra virgin olive oil, whatever your pick is coconut oil. And you roast it in the oven at about 400 Degrees until it gets like a little bit brown and crispy on the outside. I like doing that with brussels. I like to quarter my brussels first, because again the smaller the pieces the more you get kind of surface area for that caramelization.

The other thing you can do with brussels is slice off the bottoms, peel about half of the leaves off and roast those, and they turn into almost like brussels sprout chips, kind of like kale chips, but with brussels leaves. I dare anyone to tell me that they don’t like brussels if you make them that way. So that’s my tip.

Caitlin: Awesome. My mouth is hanging open right now. Also it’s about dinner time in Berlin right now, and I’m really hungry. Cool. All right. Melissa Hartwig, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. It’s been a pleasure.

Melissa: It was my pleasure. Thank you Caitlin.

The Bookend

Ben: Welcome to The Bookend…where we end with books!

Caitlin: For a second there. I thought you gonna say something else like…

BSS: books!


BSS: No.

CS: Okay, cool.

BSS: What did you want to say about addiction and food? You had you mentioned this when we were walking into the studio.

CS: Yeah, I did. One of the things that surprised me about Melissa Hartwig Urban was how much in The Whole30 she talks about—and how much she talked about in our conversation—how food can be an addiction and she said that in her experience, she had been an addict. One of the things that the Whole30 did for her was reveal to her the ways in which she had been using food in the same way that one uses any drug to which they can be addicted, whether that’s you know cocaine or sex or, you know, a toxic relationship, or cigarettes.

Food can be the same way, and by pulling out the different kinds of foods that you might unwittingly be using for emotional balming, for, you know, whatever all the reasons we use addictive behaviors gives you a chance to look at your behavior and see what’s behind it.

And I think that’s really, really interesting.

BSS: Yeah, cool.

CS: Yeah, that’s all I wanted to say about it.

BSS: Okay, well actually ties up to, connects to a book recommendation. I would make because Jonah Berger was—can I can I?

CS: Please do let’s just dive right into the books.

BS: OK. Jonah Berger was mentioned in the interview.

And you talked to him a couple times actually in various Blinkist podcasts, mediums, and including Simplify.

And Jonah Berger wrote a couple books we really like. One of them is called Invisible Influence, and Invisible Influence is relevant to this because, like you said, you have to get at those things you might not realize are affecting you and Invisible Influence is all about behavioral economics, behavioral psychology, what are those factors behind how we actually think how we make opinions, these factors that influence you? Like other people around you, for example: just having someone around you influences you. If you’re aware of it, they influence you less, right? So there’s like some kind of magic about when you don’t know. And that ties to the book to Whole30 for me because it’s like you don’t know how these foods are actually influencing you until you try it without them.

CS: Mmhm.

BSS: I like that. I think it’s a— I think it’s a really powerful point.

CS: Or you really wake up and notice them, right?

BSS: Yeah. I mean for me this episode is not an episode about self-awareness because we’ve had a few authors on this season who talked about pay attention, do something, and pay attention to how it affects you. And it’s not like here just do this in no matter what it will make you better. It’s like do this see what it does then decide how to incorporate that into your life. Which ties to my second book recommendation.

CS: Awesome! Get in there.

BSS: Which is Michael Pollan. He wrote the manifesto called In Defense of Food and the manifesto is really simple. It’s three lines:

Eat food
Not too much
Mostly plants.

Like let that guide you. So there’s obviously ties to the to Hartwig’s book to the Whole30 because. She talks a lot about just stick to, like, eating real food. But Michael Pollan talks about how we’ve lost the plot a little bit when it comes to food because we focus on nutrition and we don’t focus on food.

CS: What do you mean? Tell me more about that?

BSS: Like, we decided that food only has a purpose of affecting our physical health. We don’t think about our relationship to food in anything else. And so what that led to during the 20th century was this focus on imitation foods. It’s not real food. It’s imitation food. It has the same amount of vitamin C as an orange or has the same amount of calcium is a glass of milk. It’s like. If you could just give me my entire nutrients in a pill that would be better than food. But it’s not! In fact, it’s totally not and more and more research is coming out to say “Sorry, not true” that you can take a vitamin C pillow won’t have the same effect as eating an orange. Yeah, and by the way humans have always ate oranges. Yeah. So eat an orange.

CS: That’s really interesting. That’s like saying gives you the same number of hugs as your mom, about some like really friendly middle-aged woman on the street. Still hugs! Not from your mom.

BSS: Did you just pull that one? That’s amazing. Yeah. Anyway, I think that everybody listening should just try this now try changing something a little bit in their food for a week and your food for a week and just see what it does.

I mean just mess around a little bit and see if it makes you feel better.

CS: Yeah, what do you have to lose really except maybe an allergy or two?

BSS: I mean it doesn’t have to be cut out all grains forever. No could be like try to not drink coffee for a couple days and drink really strong green tea instead.

CS: I’m glad you said that because I think one of the other things about this interview that was really great and there’s a lot of there’s a lot of haterism on the internet about the Whole30. There’s maybe almost as much haterism as there is people being really excited about the Whole30. It’s because they say “Oh, this is unsustainable you have to cut things out forever!” And if there’s anything that Hartwig really emphasized—Hartwig Urban—emphasized in this interview, it’s that no it’s not forever. It’s for a little while. So you have a blank canvas on which to you know, spew your high fructose corn syrup later

BSS: Right, and see, wouldn’t you also do that like if you were totally overwhelmed. With your friends in your social life and it felt like it was making you sick and exhausted and wouldn’t you like take a weekend off? Like just watch TV and not talk to anybody. So to me, it’s like it’s kind of the basics of taking care of yourself by paying attention to what you eat paying attention to what’s actually going inside you.

CS: Yeah. Yeah, whether that’s your friend’s toxic bickering and kvetching or it’s, you know, cheese… Speaking of cheese!

BSS: Go on!

CS: Last book recommendation. Thank you for those two by the way, really really good. This is a call back. To a very early episode of Simplify, which I think Season 1 with Dr. Joel Fuhrman one and only the one and only this was another nutritionist that we had on the beginning people were really interested in this interview, and I got a lot of email about it. I think I also got a lot of email about it because I personally tried his way of eating which is called Eat to Live.

BSS: You got a lot of emails about this because you shared with the world that after following Joel Fuhrman’s methods you could see. You didn’t have to wear your glasses anymore. That was that is insane. That is so cool.

CS: Yeah, I mean look at me now. I’m wearing my glasses. It’s also because I’m really tired. But yeah, I also like my glasses but, yeah, the point is the foods that you eat are different from the Whole30 when you when you do the Eat to Live form of eating, but it’s similar. It’s also, you know, it’s a little bit longer than 30 days. It’s six weeks of eating GBOMBS, which is one of your favorite things to say:

BSS: Grains, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds!

CS: Yes! Seeds. So you’re eating a lot of natural stuff that like a little animal in the forest floor would eat. I learned a whole new way of conceiving of what a meal should look like from this which is super useful to me. I also learned a bunch of recipes for sauces that I really liked which is also true of the Whole 30.

BSS: Is that Sunshine Sauce?

CS: Oh man. It’s so good. Sunflower seeds lots of delicious stuff. Yep. I highly recommend that one.

BSS: I’ma Google it real quick.

CS: So, Eat to Live. It really positively impacted my health. It’s essentially going totally vegan and, like, raw for six weeks, but it made me really energetic, my skin got amazing, my eyesight was better. I felt great. There’s still things about Eat to Live that I use everyday, Like: there are some things that I just never went back to eating, really, and that’s great. And it’s not a thing I did forever— just like Melissa Hartwig doesn’t say you have to do The Whole30 forever. This is an experiment you can do to see what works for your body. And now I know some things that work for my body and some that don’t.

BSS: Yeah, that’s cool. I think this—I think we should do more food based stuff, or more food based authors.

CS: Right! Samin Nosrat, you keep putting this off but we’ll find you. . We’re going to find you now.

BSS: Well this episode of Simplify was produced by me Ben Schuman-Stoler, Caitlin Schiller, Nat Darozhkina, and Ody Constantinou, who actually tied all of the mics to their stands in the studio using crazy straws. That dude is resourceful.

CS: Yeah, I mean it’s also colorful in here.

BSS: I love it. Colorful. Stable.

CS: I feel like those are the two best ways to describe Ody Constantinou.

BSS: You know that Mitch Hedberg joke about crazy straws is like, I don’t know about those straws, but my straws are sane.

CS: He was my favorite comedian for a long time. If you heard something that you liked—awesome—share this episode of Simplify with a friend. We’d really appreciate it. And I think that they would too. if you’d like to reach out and tell us what you thought you can talk to all of us on the podcast squad by emailing [email protected]. I am on Twitter at @caitlinschiller Schiller and, Ben, they find you…where?

BSS: @bsto. B-S-T-O. And for those who don’t know, Caitlin and I work here at Blinkist. We’re here in the studio at Blinkist. Blinkist is an app, but you can also find us on the web or on your favorite app store. We basically take the key insights from the world’s best non-fiction books and distill them into little capsules that you can read or listen to in like 15 minutes. So, I highly recommend checking it out. Especially if you liked this interview, you can find Melissa Hartwig Urban’s work on Blinkist.

If you want to try it out go to and type in Whole30. W-H-O-L-E-3-0. Whole30. And you can try Blinkist out for 14 days for free.

CS: Hooray. Yeah, actually, we would really love it, if you tried Blinkist, if you’re Simplify listener, and you try Blinkist out, let us know what you think about it! Email me and the podcast crew at [email protected] We’d just love to hear what you think about it.

BSS: True that double true.

CS: All right, so then I guess that’s it. We got any more business here?

BSS: We’ve just gotta say checking out.

CS: All right, then, I guess that’s it. Checkin’ out.

BSS: Checkin’ out. Bye.

Read the show notes from this episode here!

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