We’ve got Atkins, Paleo, Ketogenic and numerous other diet trends on the market, but one out there claims to hit the reset button on your health and transform your relationship with food in just 30 days – The Whole30.
Now before we continue, it is very important that you think of the word diet in its pure, denotative form, the kinds of food habitually eaten, and less of the modern-given connotative form, a torturous rouse to lose weight. A diet is simply what you eat every day.
If you’ve been following along on my journey, you’ll know that I’ve had my ups and downs with health (blood sugar, endomitriosis, etc), and the Whole30 Diet was recommended to me by my doctor to give my immune system a boost. It hasn’t been working to it’s full potential, and for me it seems like every time I go in a crowded room, I end up getting some sort of cold, virus, or other ailment. So why Whole30? Let me break it down.
What is the Whole30?
The Whole30, at its core, is a diet geared toward fueling your body with non-processed, whole foods. Yes, people use it to lose weight, but the real metric is your overall well-being, like how you feel, how your skin looks, and how much energy you have, and not inches or pounds lost. As far as food goes, you’ll be munching on a ton of organic, local good-for-you foods and ditching anything and everything that is processed. Here’s what you’ll be avoiding for 30 days:
- No Added Sugar – Real or Artificial. No honey, no agave, no pure maple syrup, no pink packets, brown packets, or any color packets. No sweeteners.
- No Legumes – This includes hummus, beans, tofu, soy products, peas, peanuts, and more.
- No Grains – You’re going to have to say bye to wheat, barley, rye, rice, oats, corn + corn starches, etc.
- No Dairy -Pretty self explanatory. No cow’s, sheep, goat, or other milk or milk products allowed.
- No MSG, Sulfites, or Carrageenan – Check the ingredients list! Look for almond milks that specifically say “No Carrageenan” because most have it!
- No Baked Goods or Junk Food with “Approved” Ingredients – Come on guys… This diet is for your own good. Don’t sneak a “Paleo Chocolate Cake” because it’s made with a hodge-podge of approved items. Just don’t do it.
There are also a few other stipulations about approved oils you can cook with and things like that, but you can find the full break-down of the program rules here.
Why are these foods the “bad guys”? Because these are the foods commonly known to cause inflammation, hormone imbalances, skin issues, digestive ailments, and disruptions in energy levels. You know… that all to familiar longing to sleep after you eat a massive bowl of pasta for lunch.
I was on what I would say is a pretty good diet before, so when my doctor told me about this, I wasn’t all that worried… until I actually looked up the program online. (That’s another perk of this diet. There is a HUGE community of resources to help you succeed.) When I found out I couldn’t have dairy, it was like a little piece of my heart DIED. I ate yogurt, cottage cheese, and CHEESE on a nearly daily basis. When I went to the grocery store for the first time, I, no lie, started tearing up in the middle of the produce section because I could see all the tortillas, donuts and bread, and knew I couldn’t eat any of those things. It. Was. Hard… But not as hard, or worth, feeling bad and tired all of the time. And to quote Whole30.com, and immensely embarrass/remind myself
” Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days.”
Plus, there are things you can do to help stay on track.
Plan and Prep
My doctor helped by telling me the best way to ensure the success of this diet is to plan and prep! I’ve never been much of a true meal-prepper, so my meal prep came in the form of writing out every meal I would make and eat for one week. When I’d go grocery shopping, I’d buy those items only and stick to the script! Also, I should mention that before the meal prep began came the cleansing of the pantry. I donated or threw out anything that was non-compliant to keep temptations at bay, and to force myself to go out and buy new, compliant items. Both of these key steps helped me a TON.
As previously mentioned, the first four days or so of this diet were the hardest! The cravings were still there and seeing other people eat how I wanted to be eating was inescapable. I love food and I love baking, so I follow a lot of foodies, bloggers, and bakers on my social media. I actually ended up doing a “cleansing” on there too. I started following new Whole30 pages to get recipes and inspiration, and did find it made it much easier to plan my weekly meals and find other tasty dishes I’d like to try.
On weeks two and three I noticed a HUGE difference in my skin. I’ve never had the best complexion, and my face cleared up tremendously… to the point where I actually got my first compliment on my skin – with no makeup on – when I was waiting in line somewhere. I think I looked at the girl like, “Are you talking to me?!” LOL! This was definitely a great perk. I also noticed that I hardly ever felt stuffed or bloated anymore. Another great perk!
Between weeks three and four, my energy in the mornings had improved. Before, even after getting 8-9 hours of sleep at night, I would wake up so tired! This is something I am still working on, but I have more good days, where I feel like waking up and going for a run, than bad ones. Blood sugar swings were a real thing for me, and so was a high A1C. This diet has helped get and keep both of these under control.
Would I Recommend this Diet
Short answer: Yes! I’m currently working on re-introducing foods one at a time and will write a follow-up blog on how things go. I highly recommend giving this diet a go if you feel like you a stuck in a sluggish lull and can’t seem to find a way out. The re-introduction protocol of food on its own will help you pinpoint what foods you should add back, avoid entirely, or add sparingly into your diet to keep you feeling great.
The best thing I gained from this diet is realizing just how many foods I don’t miss. My cravings and tastebuds have really been rewired. I know what foods make me feel good, and I want to give my body those foods to get it functioning at its optimum potential. Conversely, I know what will make me crash and feel like absolute crap. It sounds simple, but this very fact alone is enough to alter my health for the better.
Did I cure a chronic illness? No, but I do feel better and have more energy. Did I miraculously gain 6-pack abs? No, but I did shave a few inches off my stomach. Am I a healthcare expert? No, but I am recounting my story and experiences in hopes that maybe someone else out there can benefit from them and make their own informed decision on following this diet.
I plan on doing a few more blog posts about progress and maybe recipes and meals I ate during this diet later on, so stay posted. Have any of you tried the Whole30 Diet? If so, what were the hardest parts for you, and how do you feel after completing it?