Hi! Long-promised post here finally being delivered.
July 23rd I started the Whole30. I was skeptical about the program’s touted benefits and doubtful about my own ability to stay disciplined and see it through to the end. I’ve tried diets before. How could this program (“it’s not a diet!”) really be better? Would I really be able to go without rice, bread, or red wine for 30 days?
Before and during, it was hard. I had major cravings for non-compliant foods. I felt hungry and nervous that I’d come out of it with nothing to show for it.
Now, I’m a believer. I’ve come out of this experience raving about it to anyone who will listen. It taught me discipline, it changed my habits and diet, and it has improved my self-confidence.
So, let’s get into it-
Whole30 is very much a “paleo” diet, in that it cuts grains, legumes, gluten, etc. The diet puts an emphasis on animal proteins, something I avoid. I knew starting the program that I would need to bend the rules to allow organic, non-GMO tofu, edamame, and tempeh. I also made the conscious decision to incorporate ethically sourced eggs and sustainable seafood back into my diet on an occasional basis. Now, I am still very much a plant-based eater, but I do incorporate eggs and seafood into my diet every now and then. Being vegetarian for about 5 years and vegan for 1, this was a decision I gave intense consideration. I decided that in terms of health and ethics, I could begin eating eggs and seafood again as long as I made the best choices possible.
And that, to me, is one of the tenets of the program- removing most legumes, all grains, alcohol, all sugars, processed foods, etc., forced me to put more consideration into what I was putting on my plate. The temporary deprivation of certain foods gave me a much-needed push to get creative in the kitchen and took the time to be intentional with cooking and eating.
I stopped snacking. I stopped measuring my foods. By the end, I lost 16 pounds. I stopped feeling that 3PM after-lunch “slump.” I felt really good for the first time in a long time.
There were definitely bumps along the way- I accidentally included peas in a meal before I realized that they are non-compliant. I occasionally snacked. I took a sip of alcohol before because I completely blanked on the fact that I was doing Whole30! But goof-ups aside, the process was pretty smooth.
So what now? I was supposed to follow the 30 days with a two-week reintroduction period, but I didn’t’t fully follow the steps. However, I have learned that I feel better with more fats in my diet and I enjoy making low-carb substitutions like cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. I didn’t think I ate too much sugar before, but now my taste buds are far more sensitive to added sugar. It’s changes like these and the benefit of the weight-loss and increased energy that motivate me to stick to a mostly Whole30 diet more regularly, and make me look forward to doing the challenge again when I feel like I need it.
Was it hard? At first, yes. Even as a fairly healthy eater, the program pushed my boundaries and broke me out of my comfortable eating habits.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. It became routine and by the end, I was feeling more energized and alert, as well as generally happier and more confident (even before stepping on the scale).
If you’ve been thinking about trying the Whole30 as a way to re-set your eating habits and improve your relationship with food, I highly encourage you to read Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s book, It Starts With Food, and pick up Melissa’s daily journal and guide, Whole30 Day by Day.