June 4, 2015

The Future of Whole30 Approved


From Melissa Urban, Whole30 co-creator

We’ve worked hard over the last six years to make the Whole30 logical in its framework, as effective as possible across the broadest range of people, and easy to follow. Achieving and balancing all three of these factors with the same set of rules has proven challenging, so we are always evaluating the program to determine what improvements we can make, staying true to our integrity and the spirit and intention of the program.

Sometimes, that involves bringing whole foods back into the program (hello, white potatoes), or determining whether a new “paleofied” concoction is Whole30-appropriate (no dice, date-paste-coconut-milk-coffee-creamer). Recently, that meant reevaluating our Whole30 Approved program, based on our observation of our community’s response to the products, our peers’ feedback, and our own moral compass.

We have made the difficult decision to remove RxBars, Beaver Bites, and Yawp bars as official Whole30 Approved partners. But hear us clearly: this isn’t about the ingredients, the bars themselves, or the companies behind them. It’s about the way we have observed people (mis)using the bars during their Whole30 programs, and our desire to provide the best guidance possible for your program through our partnerships.

RxBars, Beaver Bites, and Yawp bars are still made with the highest quality real-food ingredients. They are still a healthy choice when used appropriately. Most important, they are still acceptable “emergency food” on the Whole30 program*. This change only affects our promotion of these companies as a Whole30 Approved partner or affiliate.

*All but the Peanut Butter RxBar, because peanuts.

A Critical Review

This isn’t a decision we took lightly. When we partnered with these companies, we looked at the short list of real-food ingredients and loved the idea of introducing our Whole30 participants to healthy and convenient “emergency food” options. We imagined all the ways you would use them; kept in an office drawer for the odd late night at the office, added to a backpack to fuel your long hike or bike ride, packed in a carry-on in case your flight is delayed, or carried in your purse for those unexpected traffic jams. We still stand behind these bars as a good choice—when used appropriately. Our mistake was assuming that people would see their value as healthy on-the-go convenience food and use them only as such.

But over the last few years, we’ve seen people on the Whole30 gravitating to these bars for less healthy reasons. They’re sweet, salty, and fatty. They’re as close to a sweet treat as you can get on the Whole30. And for many, the strong emotional ties to sweets and the temptation to use these products to satisfy those cravings proved too strong to resist. We found ourselves torn, prominently promoting the bars with a discount code while constantly remind people, “Don’t eat these like candy, don’t use them to feed your Sugar Dragon, include these in your Whole30 carefully.”

The announcement of RxBar’s new Chocolate Sea Salt flavor, plus the other dried-fruit-and-nut bar companies who have recently approached us with partnership requests, brought this issue to a head. With so many new members of our community, and so many struggling to overcome cravings, food addictions, and reestablish a healthy relationship with food, we felt now was the time to revise the message we were sending through our promotional efforts, and provide clearer guidance for the Whole30 community.

Going forward, we will no longer promote any dried-fruit-and-nut bars under our official Whole30 Approved program. The only bars to which we will lend our name and our logo are those with meat as a base (like Primal Pacs, Chomps, and Epic Bars), as those will never be mistaken for candy.

Emergency Food, Please

This change to our marketing strategy comes as a desire to provide the best guidance we can during your Whole30, and help you make the healthiest choices for your long-term goals. RxBars, Larabars, and other dried-fruit-and-nut bars are still appropriate emergency food for your Whole30, as long as the ingredients are compatible. But as always, include these in your Whole30 cautiously, as there is serious potential to use these bars in a less healthy manner during your program. As on-the-go or emergency food? Yes. As a replacement for your mid-day sugar boost, daily late-night treat, or to satisfy your Day 3 raging Sugar Dragon? While it’s not an official Whole30 rule, we’d strongly suggest no.

Reminder: just because the ingredients are compatible doesn’t mean the product is the best choice for inclusion in your Whole30. For more on this topic, refer to the Treats, Food Fixations, and the Scale section of The Whole30 (page 95). You can also view some of our free resources online, like our recommendations for business travel or emergency food situations.

As always, however, the ultimate responsibility for your Whole30 choices and results lies with you.

We’ve personally spoken with the RxBar, Beaver Bites, Yawp, and Larabar teams and advised them of this difficult decision. They have all responded gracefully and positively, and we are grateful for their continued support and friendship. We have already adjusted our Whole30 Approved page to reflect this change. All of the companies affected will be making changes to their websites and product labeling to reflect this new decision. The labeling change will take time, but we’ll do the best we can to continue to communicate this position clearly with our community. (You can also share this post to help us spread the word.)

We want to thank all of you for your continued readership and support. We hope this decision will better help you make the best choices you can for your Whole30 program, and reaffirm your faith that the Whole30 team places the efficacy of the program and your success ahead of everything else.

Best in health,
Melissa Urban & Dallas Hartwig Co-founders, Whole30