In order to regain some energy in my life, keep up with my daughter, and help my depression, I started a Whole30 in the end of February. Not only that, but I managed to convince my husband to do it with me to hopefully figure out what some of his trigger foods were. I can happily say that my first Whole30 was a success!
What is the Whole30?
Essentially, it’s a very strict paleo/elimination diet developed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, authors of The Whole30 and It Starts With Food, that is followed for thirty days straight with no cheating. This gives our body a chance to cleanse itself and heal while also letting us break the hold sugar and unhealthy eating habits have on us. In addition, this also taught us how to really read labels for everything and really opened my eyes into how much added sugar and soy is in all of the food we eat that we didn’t realize.
What Can We Have?
- Good Fats (clarified butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds)
What Isn’t Allowed?
- No added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.
- No alcohol
- No grains.
- No legumes.
- No dairy.
- No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.
- No stepping on the scale!
If this seems like a huge list of things we can’t have, it is and it isn’t. Honestly, as someone who lived on rice, pasta and creamer with a hint of coffee, I had my reservations about doing this but by doing it anyway, I found out there’s actually a ton of food available that makes this list of “can’t haves” look really small.
Basic Whole30 Meal Template
The basic meal template of a Whole30 meal is protein + vegetables + fat. Keeping this template in mind makes meal planning a lot easier since you start with that protein, add vegetables that compliment it, and use the fats for cooking, a sauce, or adding (such as with olives, nuts, or seeds). How’s that for simplicity?
Find out more about the Whole30 from whole30.com or through the book, The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom and their first book, It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways.
At the end of the Whole30 is a reintroduction protocol that reintroduces legumes, non-gluten grains, dairy and gluten separately, with two days of Whole30 eating in between so we could evaluate how our bodies respond to each group. Since everyone is different, this information is invaluable towards figuring out what doesn’t cause an issue to things that you should avoid, or at least know the consequences of if you choose to have it.
For me, while dairy and non-gluten grains (rice, quinoa, etc) didn’t seem to be an issue at all, beans made me bloated and gluten seemed to zap my energy, made me crabby and also want to just take a nap. Most of what gluten did was the main reason I wanted to do the Whole30 in the first place so it was extremely useful to find out exactly what was causing that. After cutting sugar out completely, I also found out that sugar was causing headaches for me and leaving my mind feeling fuzzy in a way.
Now, does this mean I’m never going to have gluten again? Honestly, no, but I’ve cut back on my gluten intake significantly. Bread and pasta used to be something we had pretty much every day and now I’ll limit it to a small portion occasionally, but now I know that I’m going to end up drained and cranky because of it. I also try to keep my sugar intake limited since, in addition to headaches, sugar produces cravings. If I have a little bit of something with sugar, I crave more and more of it. It’s so easy to overdo sugar on a daily basis, between sweets and sugar added to everything, that this is a daily struggle.
One of the benefits of the Whole30 is the feeling of having “Tiger Blood”, where you have a lot of energy and things just feel GREAT. I got to this point and can honestly say I loved it and that’s been one of my main motivators for encouraging me to clean up my diet since then. While the Whole30 emphasis isn’t on weight loss but overall health, both Chad and I did lose weight to the tune of 20 and 10 lbs respectively, which was a nice bonus.
While this was a journey and sometimes a struggle, I’m so incredibly glad I ended up doing this. Not only did I gain a lot of insight into my health and what works and doesn’t work for me, I also have a lot more energy and feel a lot better about life in general. Being able to at least somewhat keep up with my 4-year-old is a nice bonus!
Have you heard of the Whole30 or done one yourself? Would you consider it?