For those who haven’t heard of it, the Whole 30 is a popular elimination Diet based on the book , “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
In a nutshell, for 30 days, you eliminate all processed foods, wheat/grains, dairy, soy, alcohol, sugar and certain additives and preservatives.
The idea is to fuel your body with whole foods such as eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, and quality protein like fish, meat and poultry. After the 30 days, you can slowly add these foods back in.
If it sounds intense, it is. Their mantra is, “THIS is not hard. Beating Cancer is hard, having a baby is hard..but this should not be hard.”
Comparing eating healthy to beating Cancer? I agree. Nope, not hard compared to that. Is it a fair comparison? Nope, not really in the same ballpark. But I get that it’s for effect. And if you’re going to try this you really should try to commit because it’s certainly not easy.
So here are my takeaways and tips from what I learned. I have been wanting to try this for some time but was always a little intimidated to start. And full disclaimer: I was not perfect, While the expectation is that you play this at 100%, I have to confess that I played at about 90% and I'm ok with that!
If you aren’t preparing and eating your own meals this will be very challenging for you. To be successful at this, you need to know what you’re eating. And the only way to know that is if you prepare your own food.
Meal prepping and cooking is fundamental to the process. While it’s ok to eat out some of your meals, this is all about your meal prep game. But If you do cook, there are a ton of resources available! Recipes, tips, and online groups can be super helpful. I definitely upped my meal prep skills and surprised myself by coming up with creative but satisfying ways to have a treat (almond milk and date milkshake..delicious!)
Depending on where you’re starting from, your body will respond different. Most people experience some kind of symptoms in the beginning (tired or grouchy) until they figure out the proper macronutrient levels to feel satiated. For me, it was about the start of week 3 that I began to feel the benefits. I noticed I wasn’t having big dips in my blood sugar (ie: I wasn’t getting hangry). My mood felt stable and my digestive system was on point (no bloating!) I have heard that your complexion improves and people notice they have a glow. I’m not sure if I glowed but my daughter did notice my skin looked good. Another benefit is how things taste. When you eliminate processed foods or foods with added sugar, you will start to taste the natural sugars in foods. Fruits and vegetables will taste extra good!
I eat pretty clean most of the time and I still found this challenging. It’s easy to be tempted to ‘cheat’ and take a bite here and there. Scrutinizing everything you eat and playing the ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ game can become exhausting...and annoying to the people you eat with!
By far, the toughest part was socializing around food and eating out. I did the best I could by sticking with protein and vegetables, but I did not ask what they were cooked in and did not make any special requests. Alcohol was another challenge. I don't drink that much but I found it difficult to say no to a glass of wine the couple of times we went out.
While I knew this was temporary, I did not like the stress of having to
constantly deny myself. This can definitely have a ricochet effect and cause you to go hard in the other direction if you’re feeling too deprived. Know yourself and how you think this might create negative food habits!
The purpose for doing this is to see how your body will react to certain high inflammatory foods. If you add all the foods you haven't been eating back all at once, you won’t be able to identify what you're sensitive to!
I learned this the hard way. I was so excited to eat the foods I had been missing, I didn’t take this step seriously enough and paid the price. I had major digestive issues and had to go back and figure out what it was. It’s taken a little time to figure it out, but I have since added a few things back in (some dairy) and eliminated some other foods (mainly wheat) that are triggers.
For more information on The Whole 30, check out their website here !