In the calm, cozy living room of her Salt Lake City home, Melissa Hartwig Urban is sitting pretty. Ten years after she cofounded Whole30—a diet plan that’s gained an obsessive following—she has a new book (her eighth), a weekly podcast and loves her life with a 6-year old son and her boyfriend of three years Brandon Talbot. “I never could have predicted things would turn out this way,” she says.
That’s because Hartwig Urban, 45, now a certified sports nutritionist, was not always the picture of health. For five years she was addicted to heroin. “I felt worthless, but now I feel like my addiction was setting me up for this path.” The similarities between food and drugs—how people use them “to comfort, reward, self-soothe, punish,” she says—helped form her business.
Growing up in Nashua, N.H., with a stay-at-home mom and a father who worked two jobs, terms of financial support, family stability and good grades. It was all very vanilla.” But in the early ’90s, she says, she was sexually assaulted by a relative and was disappointed by her family’s response. “I don’t think they knew how to process it,” she says. Feeling “abandoned and unheard,” she decided to try marijuana at 18, just before