We have finally arrived ya’ll! My husband and I have officially and successfully completed Whole30. I couldn’t decide if this was a true book review or not, but I’m more so writing about my personal experience, not the book. For those of you that don’t know, Whole30 is an elimination diet where you remove various food groups from your diet for 30 days and slowly reintroduce them back in to see how they affect your body and the way you feel. I’m not going to be giving any advice (other than, if you do Whole30, meal planning is super important) but rather, just giving my experiences on the way we’ve felt and what we’ve thought throughout this process.
Initial thoughts going into Whole30:
So, what are the restrictions?
- Legumes (beans, lentils, etc – peanuts count as legumes but green beans are ok)
- Dairy products (so no cream, milk, half and half, butter etc)
- No added sugar – real or artificial (so no honey, maple syrup etc)
- No alcohol of any kind – even if it’s only being used in cooking
- No grains (wheat, rye, rice, quinoa etc)
- No soy (soy sauce, soy protein etc)
- No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
- No junk food (so no compliant, no sugar added treats, nothing deep fried etc)
There’s some fine print in there but that’s the gist of it and I don’t feel like explaining every singe rule to you and I doubt you’re interested in it either! Anywho, that sounds a lot more restrictive than it it is. It really comes down to reading labels and eating whole, fresh foods. If you’re purchasing around the outer edges of your grocery store, you’re likely not going to have a problem (which is where we should be doing most of our shopping anyway) – you’re going to run into issues with processed foods. So, the next questions would be: Why do this? What’s the point?
We personally did this due to my husbands transplant surgery. When you remove a portion of the liver you must also remove the gallbladder. The gallbladder helps break down food more quickly and therefore your diet may change after the surgery. Not only does my husband have to be sober for a year anyway but when recovering from a surgery that large it’s super important to treat your body kindly and be mindful of what you’re putting into it (but really, we should do this all the time).
However, this is likely the case for like .00001% of the people doing Whole30. This is more likely thought to be a great way to jump start a path to weight loss but in reality, this program shouldn’t be and isn’t a path to long term weight loss, if you’re not prepared to change the way you eat long term. While weight loss is a side effect of Whole30 it shouldn’t be your baseline. Whole30 is about learning how your body reacts to different food groups and teaching yourself how to eat whole, unprocessed ingredients (for the most part). The point is to reset your body and adjust what you’re eating to make sure you’re feeling your best.
So we’ve been taking notes on our *thoughts* throughout this process, below I will outline how we felt, week to week as time went on.
WEEK ONE: We did no real meticulous meal planning – this was a mistake. Ate weird lunches and went to the grocery store almost every day. Wasted money figuring out nutpods are the best creamer substitute.
WEEK TWO: Meal planning like a boss. Over compensated and made too much shredded chicken for meal prep. Still not tired of eggs. Cauliflower rice is not rice – but it’s aight. We miss cheese. Nutritional yeast is like the wax figure version of a real person – we all know and it’s kind of creepy.
WEEK THREE: Suuuuuuucks. Real tired of this. Colin is hungry all the time. I never want to eat – food boredom has taken over. Maybe starting to get tired of eggs. I just want a single piece of chocolate. Fitz is not a fan of Whole30. However, we’re sleeping better and have more energy.
WEEK FOUR: Definitely looking forward to having less restrictions, but plan on continuing to eat Whole30 compliant meals at least 3 times a week. Super over it but also feeling the benefits. We’re sleeping better, lower anxiety, and have more energy. We’re definitely going to stick to a lot of the things we learned – just a more relaxed version of Whole30.
Next on my list of things to offer you about our experiences are the pros and cons of Whole30, so here we go:
PROS: Eliminating processed flour and sugar along with alcohol is ALWAYS a good thing to do from time to time. All three are slippery slopes because they target and activate the pleasure sensors of our brain and that feels rewarding even though it’s not good for your body. We really are sleeping better, and both have considerable more energy in the middle of the day where there used to be a lull of tiredness. If weight loss is your thing, you will lose weight. For me, I love to challenge myself in the kitchen and this was a fun way to do that. I will absolutely take the meticulous meal planning well past this challenge and continue to implement it. It’s a great way to stay on top of what you’re eating and saves you money!
This is a great way to jump start making positive changes to your diet. It’s a pain at times but as the weeks go by, we really did feel and see the positive changes. Not only that, but those around us saw it as well. In our energy level and our overall happiness. I’ve never felt more productive, well rested or happy with our routine as I have in the last 30 days. I’m excited to not have as many restrictions, but I’m a little nervous to leave the safety of how great I feel right now as we start reintroducing the items we’ve cut out. However, I didn’t love it enough to do it forever, so there’s that.
CONS: This would be suuuper easy to do wrong. It doesn’t have any restrictions on how much of any compliant item you can have. So you could eat a rare steak and potatoes for every meal and technically be ballin’ out to Whole30 (per their own rules). If you’re not researching what you’re eating, paying attention and ensuring you have balanced meals you could end up way too high or low in certain areas. This is not a life long healthy eating change. I see that people are following this as a way of life but I really don’t think that’s feasible and you really do get nutrients from beans, and dairy products so unless you have an allergy or reason you can’t eat a specific food, Whole30 should be used to create a baseline and reset your system.
This would’ve been 100% harder if I didn’t work from home, if my husband didn’t do it with me (or if I had kids) and if we weren’t home all of January. This would also be a whole lot harder if we didn’t live somewhere like Dallas. The largest Central Market (which is a HUGE, foodie grocery store chain) had only one compliant beef broth and only two compliant chicken stock options. Our Central Market also sells Primal Kitchen sauces and mayo, which makes cooking a lot easier. If you lived somewhere without access to things like this, you’d have to make all your own stock and sauces – which would be a pain.
GENERAL TAKEAWAY: I enjoyed this, it was challenging and annoying at times but I’ve seen positive things come out of it. We’re taking the reintroduction phase very slowly to ensure we’re creating the right diet for my husband. I’ll take a lot of the lessons I’ve learned from Whole30 and implement them into our daily lives. We’ve never been big sweets people so that wasn’t too hard, but it is Girl Scout Cookie season soooo, I’m going to have to contend with that. For February, we’re continuing in the “challenge” spirit and while reintroducing different food groups we’ll still not be eating out and preparing every meal for February. We didn’t eat out a lot before, but it really is eye opening eating pretty much only at home.
While I did receive just a tad bit of negativity in response to doing this challenge, most of the response was overwhelmingly positive. My mantra for 2019 is to let my own light shine and not allow the negativity of another to affect me. If you do face that unsolicited advice or negativity that always seems to come with making positive changes – just remember, you’re showing up for yourself and that’s what matters.
I’ve struggled with pretty bad nightmares since about 2011 and I’ve seen doctors, tried numerous things and they just continue. If they’re not a full blown nightmare, they’re still bad dreams. However, with Whole30 I’ve started to see that change and I’m having fewer and fewer bad dreams which is really nice. All in all, it’s a month – if you think it’s going to change your life or that if you do this and then go back to eating pizza every day, you’ll still lose weight and keep it off, then this isn’t for you. However, if you want to see how your body reacts to different food groups and do a reset where you’re probably going to learn some cool stuff and make positive changes then give it a shot! As far as the 30 days go, I have nothing negative to say about the results and changes we’ve seen. It does get annoying to have to read the label meticulously for EVERYTHING you eat and to not be able to eat out, or have a glass of wine after a long day but those are minor annoyances and again, it’s only 30 days.
How I felt about Whole30 in the end:
SIDE NOTE + SECONDARY CHALLENGE: As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve also been participating in Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day Dedicate challenge. This has also been incredibly positive for me and I’ve enjoyed it SO MUCH. Not only is she from my home town of Austin, Texas but she is so accessible, positive and joyful that I have such a lovely time every day. If you’re looking for small steps to make positive changes in 2019 I highly suggest looking her up. I’ll be continuing to use her videos and upping the length of time / level of difficulty in February. I have nothing but great things to say about her and this channel!
*One minor caveat*: It’s hard for us to separate Whole30 and the fact that we are on the other side of the single most stressful event of our lives thus far. The transplant surgery and the lead up were incredibly heavy for us. My husband was finishing his last class hours for his PhD (Differential Equations is no joke my dudes) and I was a giant sobbing mess of anxiety for two weeks leading up to the surgery any time I was alone. So, yes, both of our anxiety levels are at an all time low, I’m sleeping way better and I feel the best I’ve felt in a year. While I’m sure it’s got a lot to do with Whole30 (mainly cutting sugar and alcohol I’d think) my positive take away may also have to do with the fact that I’m just incredibly happy right now. PLUS, we have a tentative finally move out of DFW schedule that puts us in the mountains between June and August of this year! I swear, 2019 is gonna be LIT ya’ll.
Well that ended up being way more long winded than I anticipated… First 2019 New Years Resolution is IN.THE.BAG. What are some resolutions you’ve started the year with? Have you ever tried Whole30, if so, what did you think? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!