If you’re a Beyonce fan, you’ve probably already seen her Netflix documentary titled Homecoming which follows her preparation for her massive 2018 Coachella performance. I know I did! If you’re a nutrition buff, you may also have raised an eyebrow early in the show when Bey talks about her diet leading up to the concert. In the clip she’s eating an apple, while her voiceover reveals that during that time she did not eat bread, carbs, sugar, dairy, meat, fish, or alcohol. Her trainer who created the diet probably could have let her in on the fact that apples are both a carbohydrate AND contain sugar, but it’s very likely he doesn’t know that either. And that’s just one more reason why you should never get a personal trainer to do a Dietitian’s job.
So jokes aside I was more than a little disappointed and sad to hear how awful Beyoncé felt physically while preparing for her show. As a Dietitian who focuses on performance nutrition I can only imagine how much energy her body needed to get her through her intense workouts and rehearsals. To try and do that while purposefully undereating for extreme weight loss must have been absolute torture. Beyonce even admitted during the documentary that she was exhausted and hungry, and shared that she will never put her body through that kind of rigour again. After watching the clip I thought “ok, good! Make sure people know that extreme dieting and starving yourself is not worth the suffering just to fit into a smaller size, and that you can’t work out worth shit if you’re not getting enough nutrition!”
“And I learned a very valuable lesson: I will never, never push myself that far again.”
So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that Beyoncé’s extremely restrictive Coachella diet, the same one that recommends no carbs, no sugar, no meat, no fish, no alcohol, and no dairy was now being sold online to fans BY BEYONCÉ HERSELF? *sigh*
Beyoncé has been known for taking part in some pretty crazy fad diets before. Does anyone else remember that cayenne pepper and maple syrup concoction from a few years ago? This time though, she’s partnered up with her personal trainer to create a nutrition company called 22 Days Nutrition, which along with various protein powders and bars sells sorta-personalized vegan meal plans to the public. I use the word ‘sorta’, because the questionnaire is limited to things like how much time you have to cook and what kitchen appliances you own rather than anything health or nutrition related. Now however you can choose the option to eat EXACTLY what Beyonce ate while getting ready for her Coachella show. The price is about $14.00 per month and you get access to recipes, grocery lists, meal plans, and online coaching. In some areas you can also get all of your groceries delivered (for an additional cost of course!)
Why 22-Days Nutrition?
Beyoncé’s 22-day diet is another plan that uses the old adage ‘it takes 21 days to make or break a habit’. The idea is that by day 22 you’ll be a completely new person, free from poor health and bad skin forever, with not a food craving in sight. Except you can purchase a year subscription to the program, so I’m not entirely certain what the actual goal is meant to be. Perhaps a marketing meeting is in order. There are also plenty of places to get great plant-based recipes for free (like Pinterest!), so there’s really no need to pay for a program subscription simply for the meal ideas and recipes.
Unfortunately, that whole 21 days thing is also complete nonsense. Our daily habits take far, far longer than only a few weeks to change, and for many people living a healthy lifestyle can be a work in progress for years. This 22-day diet also sounds strangely like another fad diet nemesis of mine, the 21-Day Fix. Known for the exact same line of thinking (maybe that extra day that you get on Beyoncé’s plan is all the 21 day fix really needed to work?) Let’s be honest though when it comes to restrictive dieting behaviours like what these programs promote, what it really leads to is a destructive restrict/binge eating cycle. You diet REALLY HARD for 3 weeks, are completely deprived of all your favourite foods, then once you’re off the diet you wind up overeating, feel terrible about it, and start a new 21-day cycle the following Monday. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
Have you ever met someone who honestly did the 21-day fix only once, lost all the weight they wanted to and never had to diet again? Think about it.
I tried to find out exactly how many calories Beyonce was limited to on her Coachella diet, but wasn’t able to find any more details beyond what foods were off-limits. However I definitely suspect it wasn’t a lot. The reality is when you remove carbs, meat, and dairy from your diet you’re not left with a whole lot of choices. As great as eating fruits and vegetables are for our health, they can’t provide us with complete nutrition on their own.
Could following a plant-based diet be a healthy choice if it wasn’t so limited?
Yes, absolutely! Plant-based eating can be a great, nutritious way to fuel yourself. In fact I believe that most of us could benefit from adding more plant foods into our diets. I’m not knocking plant-based eating at all, and actually feel like this diet program is giving plant-based eating a bit of a bad name. However it’s also important to recognize you cannot sustain an active lifestyle and a healthy body by trying cutting out such a large number of foods. It creates a short-term dieting mindset, which can be a major trigger for binge eating for many folks. If we enter into a challenge (such a these popular eating challenges like the 21 day fix or the 22-day Coachella diet), we’re almost guaranteed to rebound afterwards and over-eat. It’s the very nature of dieting that restriction and deprivation leads to overeating and bingeing. And at the end of it all, we wind up feeling worse. These types of elimination diets can also really impact a person’s relationship with food and eating, making them feel incredibly guilty when they do eat something that isn’t on the “approved” list.
If there’s one thing we can do for better physical and mental health, it’s get out of the short-term, quick-fix diet mindset
I am a huge fan of Beyonce and her music and these wacky diet fads she follows won’t change that. The Homecoming album got me through many tough miles of marathon training this year! But it will always make me sad to hear celebrities talk about their body dissatisfaction and the pressure to look a certain way when you and your body are in the spotlight. Just like the rest of us, celebrities live in a looks-obsessed world surrounded by the same diet culture messages. I consider them victims of the same pressures the rest of us face- until they start profiting from it themselves that is. Celebrities endorsing diet programs, promoting weight-loss supplements, and sharing intimate details of their nutrition and fitness regimens is sending their fans down a harmful path, and it’s just not ok.
So, Beyonce. If you’re reading this PLEASE back off the BS. Stop participating in diet culture and marketing your crash diet to your fans, and go find yourself a Dietitian who can teach you to fuel your body the RIGHT way!
Here are just a few other reasons why you should never listen to nutrition advice from celebrities
If you’re interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition here are some important nutrients you don’t want to miss out on
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About the Author:
Stephanie Hnatiuk is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She believes good health doesn’t need to be complicated, and that you don’t need to be afraid have your cake and eat it too.