Food Freedom Forever

In my life, I’ve lost and gained the same fifty pounds more times than I’d like to admit. But anyone who’s read my Whole30 story knows that since I completed my first Whole30 in 2009, my relationship with food has vastly improved. Choosing what to eat used to be a fraught experience; now it’s peaceful, easy, and sometimes, it’s even fun. I can remember times when I’d deny myself treats—No wedding cake for me. I’m on a diet.—only to later find myself hoovering through whatever snacks I could find in the kitchen cabinet. Any size bag of Doritos was a single-serving size for me.

But those days are over. I’ve learned how to eat well every day and truly savor treats once in a while.

And for that I thank Melissa Hartwig, co-founder of the Whole30 program and author of the new book Food Freedom Forever. Melissa was my online “nutrition coach” way back in the day, and I called her “Moxy-Boss.” Before the Whole30 was even known as the Whole30, she and I worked together to try to understand how my body worked. We exchanged lengthy emails almost every day for months, and her messages were peppered with suggestions… about what I could eat, what I should probably avoid (hello, dairy!), how much to put on my plate, how to align my workouts with my goals, and so much more. The best bits were the ones that helped me understand food—not nutrition, but my relationship with food and all it represents. As Melissa wrote in Food Freedom Forever, “Food isn’t just food. In our relationships, food is love, acceptance, bonding, and comfort. It’s a shared indulgence, a way to let off steam, a guilty pleasure made less guilty by the participation of others.”

For many of us, food is very closely linked to emotion. And that’s where Food Freedom Forever comes into play.


Before I  talk about what Food Freedom Forever is, let me tell you what it’s not: It’s not a diet book. Nor does it promise to help you drop x-number of pounds in x-number of days. It doesn’t outline a weight loss program with rules you’ll follow to suddenly fix everything in your life.

Instead, what it offers is a 3-step approach to finding your own food freedom—a lifelong way to have a happy, healthy relationship with food. If you’ve ever wondered what happens after a successful Whole30, this book answers that question with concrete strategies for dealing with food issues in the moment (Good lord! Someone left a warm chocolate chip cookie on my desk!) and for the long term with insight into how to create new routines and manage stress.

Is the Whole30 not your thing? This book is still for you! In addition to a brief overview of the Whole30, it includes actionable guidelines for creating your own re-set and elimination programs. (Although I think most people will get the best results with a straight-up Whole30.)


I found the last section of the book to be the most helpful: It offers tips to help identify triggers like holidays, vacations, stress, and the other life events that might make any one of us fall face-first into a pile of truffle fries with a side of cheesecake.

It also arms you with plenty of practical info for communicating with friends and family in a way that preserves everyone’s peace of mind. Watch this quick clip from Melissa for a sneak peek:

When I think about food, I have two thoughts almost simultaneously. Imagine I could somehow say these two sentences at exactly the same time:
1. I want something delicious.
2. I want something that’s good for me.

Most of the time, thanks to my experiences with the Whole30 and the behavioral tools outlined in Food Freedom Forever, my meals are like that: a mash-up of delicious and healthy that’s effortless and comfortably ordinary. Then, when the moment is right, I enjoy a little something unusual—deep-fried yuca at a Colombian restaurant in Montreal, or a perfect macaron while eyeballing the Eiffel Tower, or buttered popcorn while sitting on the couch in my pjs—and I savor every bite. There’s no shame, no guilt, no self-flagellation, no thoughts of “I’ll do better tomorrow.”

That’s food freedom, and Food Freedom Forever is the roadmap to help you get there, too.

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  • PatGLex says:

    I wasn’t sure if I needed the book . . . but in the month since I have finished my first Whole 30 I have discovered SO MUCH about my relationship with food . . . what I like [ your Italian Hoagie Salad is joining my “favorite lunches” list], what happens when I “indulge,” how to let my mom cook without *my* choices restricting what *she* enjoys. And I know there is a lot more I need to learn, particularly as I continue to figure out what else I need to work on, and concentrate on losing the rest of the weight I want to, in order to get healthy. Book is going on the “buy” list.