This post has been sitting in my draft folder partially written for over two months. I couldn’t decide if anyone would really care. Then I received messages from multiple people asking for tips and recipes for completing the Whole30. So here it is …
About 2 years ago, a friend introduced me to the Whole30. I am always leery of fad diets and quick to point out the flaws. HOWEVER, this friend happens to be a dietician and clearly knows more than me so I listened. She was specifically talking about how much more energy she has had and how her complexion has noticeably cleared up since changing her eating. The Whole30 program has since blown up in popularity, which I believe is a testament to its effectiveness.
According the Whole30 website, the program is “a short-term nutritional reset designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” The idea is some foods groups could be wreaking havoc to your body and you don’t’ even realize it. The program asks you to cut out legumes, grains, sugar (of any form), dairy and alcohol for 30 days. Like Paleo but stricter. During the 30 days your body will heal and recover from the harm caused by these food groups. After your body is clean, you are supposed to reintroduce these foods one at a time to see which food groups affect you personally.
After learning about the program I went home, did some research and began. I had no hopes or desires to lose weight. I just wanted to start from scratch and feel good.
I would be lying to you if I told you I noticed my acne had cleared up, I was sleeping better, my digestive system improved or I had more energy and focus. I most definitely did not find the program cured a disease I had. Yes, people do claim all of these and some.
What I can say is I feel dramatically better. My cravings have decreased significantly. In the past I have been told, “I can’t imagine what you will be like pregnant considering the cravings you have now”. During the 30 days, I developed an appreciation for real food. Somehow food just tasted better. In fact, I did not miss the foods I had eliminated so I kept going.
Since doing my first Whole30, I am much more conscious of what is in food. I would say I eat Whole30 75% of the time. Every once in a while I fall off a cliff just to remind myself how bad it feels. I have fully completed the program at least one (maybe two) other time and partially a handful of times. I have not yet completed the “reintroduction phase” but still intend to.
As requested here are my tips:
- Don’t wait to begin. You are not going to be any more prepared to begin Monday or the first of the month. Commit to it and do it.
- Read the book “It Start With Food” by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. The book gives a lot of information about how you should complete the program including the science behind it. It explains how much of each food group you should eat to stay full and what to avoid. But, DON’T WAIT to start! Remember #1? The website has a lot of detail and there are numerous other resources. These will get your started until you get to the book.
- Read labels. Almost everything contains sugar in one form or another. Literally! When I am not sure if I can have something I Google “can I have XYZ on the Whole30”. Typically I don’t even have to click on the link to get my answer.
- Planning is important. Keep your house stocked with vegetables, vegetables, some meat, vegetables and a little fruit. You will be shocked at how many vegetables you can go through. Contrary to #1, I do suggest waiting to begin until you have been to the grocery store. But please don’t put off going to the store until you are ready to begin.
- Be prepared. Always keep a balanced snack in reach. You will learn this lesson the first time you are out running errands and can’t find anything Whole30 compliant. If you find yourself in this circumstance don’t go to a convenient store or even worse don’t just give up. Find a grocery store.
- Your grocery bill will likely see a spike. Fresh food just cost more. There is no way around it.
- It will get easier. The first week is tough … real tough. By the end of the 30 days it will seem almost easy. If possible find a buddy to complete the program with you. Misery loves company right? It is fun to share success stories with each other too.
- Don’t expect immediate results.
I personally found the social interaction to be the hardest part. I don’t like to explain to people why I am not eating or that I am “dieting”. Ironic since I am now professing it to the world right? I found it easiest to avoid going out to eat. If it is unavoidable, look at the menu beforehand and know what you will order. If possible recommend a restaurant you know will have good options.
I do not plan out meals but I am ALWAYS thinking about food and typically have a good idea of what my next 4 meals will be and at least what my options are. I am pretty simple and don’t always need an elaborate 3 course meal. Depending on your personality it might be better to plan out meals and have recipes on hand. There are a million food blogs and Instagram accounts (probably Pinterest and Facebook too) with recipes and ideas.