Well, we made it! At the end of the year I set forth my intentions to take on the Whole30 this January, and I’m proud to say I am now on the other side! I thought I would share a few thoughts about my experience as well as some advice for others who are considering doing the Whole30 themselves.
I felt like January was the perfect time to take on this 30 day reset, because it seems like everyone is trying to eat healthier in January and there aren’t a lot of parties or holidays with tempting treats. For me personally, it was perfect because my little guy was just getting to the stage where he is more independent, allowing me the necessary time to spend cooking. And the Whole30 was the PERFECT thing to get me back in the kitchen after such a long hiatus during pregnancy and the newborn stage.
I’m going to confess that I never actually read the Whole30 “rules”—I just went off what my sister told me from her experiences along with the general knowledge I’ve picked up during my time in the clean eating community. But from what I gather, it seems like some people are SUPER intense about the rules—as if there is a Whole30 police force or something. I am normally a hardcore rule follower but… I hate rules for the sake of rules. Especially when it comes to silly things like not being able to have smoothies—I get the theory behind the rule, because they don’t want you drinking your calories and all that, but when I want to go out with a friend and I’m already denied the latte I so desire, I am going to go ahead and drink a healthy, whole food smoothie with Whole30 compliant ingredients. I apparently also “broke the rules” on the one day of the month that we ate at a restaurant. I thought that I chose a pretty clean menu item, but immediately afterwards knew otherwise by how I was feeling. The Whole30 police would say I needed to start my 30 days over, but…I didn’t. I tried my best, and I understand that the point of the program is to make you think about your food choices and how they affect your body. Even though I had been missing eating out, based on how horribly I felt after that meal, I knew that I would MUCH rather spend the time preparing good food in my own kitchen. I don’t need to go another 30 days to figure that out. However I also understand that if I were using this as an elimination diet to locate health issues I WOULD need to start over….but I’ve already done that many times and that was not my intention this time around. I also ate a small bowl of white rice on day 26. Not for the sake of giving into a craving (trust me I would’ve picked something more exciting— like a cookie) but because I had been getting really dizzy and weak, and I realized I had gone a little too low carb. Even though this is technically “against the rules,” it was not against the rules I had set for myself, knowing that I am currently eating for two and my job involves taking care of a baby all day, making passing out not really an option!
I definitely didn’t realize how much mindless eating I was doing. I enjoyed the feeling of hunger between meals.
I enjoyed having fruit for snacks instead of chips or other junk foods.
Tea makes a really good dessert. I seem to always crave something sweet at the end of the night, but tea satisfied my cravings!
If the stuff isn’t in the house, I don’t want it. And after a few weeks I had curved my cravings enough that I wasn’t even tempted when my husband made brownies.
I loved eating more vegetables. When I got pregnant vegetables were sadly one of my major aversions, so I replaced them with dairy and grains. When you cut out those food groups, you have a lot more room for veggies.
Some people think that this way of eating costs more money, but I find that we actually save money because we don’t go out to eat or for “treats” as often.
I wasn’t trying to lose weight, and I don’t actually own a scale, but I did drop a pants size and I’m no longer wearing my maternity jeans (most days!).
More importantly, I feel like I definitely achieved my goal of curbing my dairy and sugar cravings and I rekindled my passion for cooking.
And finally… my wedding ring fit after just 10 days! I am one happy wifey!
Advice for newbies
It may seem overwhelming at first, especially if you are coming from the Standard American Diet, but stick with it! It gets easier. I promise.
Meal planning is essential. If you don’t have a plan you will stand in front of the refrigerator wondering what in the world you can make with the random ingredients in your fridge…and then before you can come up with something you will probably cave and go head first into the junk food.
Stash some healthy snacks for if you get caught out and about.
Leftovers are your friend! It doesn’t take much longer to cook twice as much food, and then you won’t have to cook at your next meal!
Make sure you have a few go-to recipes in your pocket that are quick and easy (my favorite is just a big ol’ skillet full of ground beef and chopped veggies, served over spinach), but also try to find some new recipes from the Whole30 community that will keep things exciting. We enjoyed the Dump Ranch and Pumpkin Breakfast Custard.
Visit my Instagram for meal ideas: @_lindsaylea_
I think the key to the Whole30 is knowing WHY you are doing it. People come to the Whole30 for a variety of reasons—losing weight, detoxing from sugar, investigating health issues, and probably many other reasons. Knowing why you are doing it is going to help you get through it and also have a better transition at the end of the 30 days. The end goal is to rethink the way you look at food and fuel your body. It goes back to the ol’ sugar in the gas tank analogy—you wouldn’t expect to get very far if you put that in your car, and the same goes for putting it in your body (this of course applies to Mac and Cheese, Red Dyes, Preservatives, and all sorts of things in addition to sugar) 😉 I saw a great post the other day that said “most people don’t realize how good their bodies are designed to feel.” I couldn’t agree with that more, and unfortunately I know from personal experience what happens when you don’t provide your body with the nutrients it needs. So the most important question of the whole experience is—what are you going to do after the Whole30?
Plan for after Whole30
Throughout the 30 days I kept coming back to “this isn’t very different from how we normally eat.” I am very thankful for that and I plan to keep it up! I will continue to cook yummy, healthy meals, although I hope to re-reintroduce some gluten free grains and legumes and a smidge of dairy every once in awhile.
Dairy is an inflammatory food so I plan to limit the kind and amount that I buy (sticking to cultured or raw where possible). Oh yeah, and the 15lbs of grass fed butter that is currently in our freezer.
I will admit that my first post-whole30 stop was Starbucks for a latte. The good news is, I seemed to do fine with the small amount of dairy, and the caffeine made me SUPER productive. I was drinking lattes everyday in December (partially because of my newborn and partially because of the abundance of eggnog) but I plan to keep them an occasional treat from here on out.
We had quinoa and butter at dinner last night, and I plan to prepare some beans later in the week, but other than that we’re keeping it pretty whole30 compliant. Oh, and my friend brought me sweet potato cookies to our home group last night so I could enjoy a treat with everyone else. I wanted to eat all three but I am proud to say I stopped after one.
Have you done the Whole30 before? I want to hear your experience!