This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
The video starts with a post-birth Beyoncé stepping on a scale and saying “Every woman’s worst nightmare. This is my weight, 175. Long way to go; let’s get it.” It’s a promo for Beyoncé’s ‘22 Days Nutritional Meal Planner,’ a subscription nutrition service based on the ultra-restrictive plant-based regime she followed for 44 days leading up to her historic 2018 Coachella performance.
The promo video is cobbled together from the behind-the-scenes documentary about the performance, Homecoming, in the middle of which we hear Beyoncé’s deep sigh, followed by the words “I’m hungry.” For years, Beyoncé has scanned as body positive and accepting of her own shape; with a promo video linked to her own crash diet, she is undercutting much of her own messaging.
While the 22 Days marketing pushes “plant-based” foods, the diet Beyoncé used in the promo video famously did not allow alcohol, carbs, sugar, meat, or fish. Stories about the diet went extremely viral following the release of Homecoming.
Moments after declaring her hunger in the doc, Beyoncé confessed, "I definitely pushed myself further than I knew I could, and I learned a very valuable lesson: I will never, ever push myself that far again." And yet, here she is, inviting fans to follow in her dieting footsteps.
The 22 Days system, a.k.a. the "Coachella Diet," is the creation of Beyoncé’s trainer, and longtime friend, Marco Borges, an exercise physiologist who supervised her following the regimen for 44 days total leading up to Coachella. The 22 Days planner (so named because “it takes 21 days to make or break a habit”) is available to buy for $14 a month (which works out to $168 annually) or $99 for a year.
The problem with crash diets, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), is that the weight lost is typically from lean muscle and water, as opposed to fat. Because of this, cleanses and fad diets produce results that are temporary. While 22 Days is a brand-new product, connecting it to Beyoncé’s Coachella results and experience suggest it could be more like the downswing of a yo-yo diet cycle and less like the lifestyle changes that promote lasting health. (If she intends to contrast her negative experience of crash dieting with a healthier lifestyle, it’s not represented at all in the promo video.)
Beyoncé is able to diet with the oversight of several professionals, so she has a good chance of long-term success no matter what her short or long-term goals are. But, for those of us who don’t have an army of professional chefs, coaches, and medical experts guiding us every step of the way, the outcome is likely to be far more uncertain.
Some fans expressed excitement at being able to try Beyoncé’s “Coachella diet.” Others, weren’t pleased with her decision to share the ultra-strict eating regimen, which has also been dubbed the “22 Days” diet.
@Mo__Jackson tweeted: "I love Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter with my whole heart but I don’t want her giving any diet/nutrition advice to anyone… crash dieting ain’t normal, safe, or healthy."
Canadian TV host Joelle Tomlinson tweeted: "Y’all know I love Beyonce. Perhaps a little too much. But I’m disappointed to hear her calling her weight post-twins every 'woman’s nightmare,' and promoting a VERY restrictive diet. Perhaps use your star power to promote body positivity and beauty at any body size. #IMHO"
Beyoncé and Jay-Z wrote the foreword to Borges’ book and held a contest for free tickets to their concerts for life to fans who bought into the plant-based movement. They wrote: “We are not about promoting any one way of living your life. You decide what’s best for you. What we are encouraging is for everyone to incorporate more plant-based meals into their everyday lives.
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