Kevin and I recently completed the Whole30. For the complete lowdown on what the heck the Whole30 is, check out this website. If you are interested in doing the Whole30, I highly recommend buying this book (or getting it from the library).
In summary, the Whole30 is not a diet. You eliminate certain food groups from your diet for 30 days, allow your body to reset back to its factory settings, and then add those food groups back in (one at a time) to see how your body responds to them.
We eliminated sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and a bunch of other unhealthy chemicals that are in our food (i.e. carrageenan, MSG, sulfites) for 30 days. The past two weeks, we reintroduced those foods to see how we felt. It was an incredibly amazing and eye-opening experience that I am excited to share with you all here. Let me start with this:
Eating healthy for 30 days was not hard.
I know, it’s crazy right? Because we’ve been believing this lie that it’s difficult to be healthy. That we don’t have enough time. That we don’t have enough money. That we don’t have enough energy to plan and cook and keep ourselves motivated. And everywhere we look, there’s an easy fix. Some pill we can take, some surgery we can have, some exercise regimen that guarantees we can still eat whatever we want, and it’s all too good to be true.
My husband might tell you that the Whole30 was hard, but the reason it was harder for him is because he actually had to cook everything. Because he is the one who cooks in our household. I literally never cook, so the only thing that changed for me is what I was eating. Yes, cooking more and eating out less is going to be time-consuming. There will be a lot more dishes to do (I do the dishes, so at least give me credit for that) and there will be a few more trips to the grocery store.
But the actual eating healthy foods part was not difficult.
Sure, I was a little bit hungry for the first couple of days and I had a few cravings here and there. But overall, I felt amazing. The only time I craved unhealthy food was when I was absolutely starving or when I was super emotional or stressed. I didn’t even know I was one of those people who uses junk food to make themselves feel better, but it wasn’t that hard to kick the habit.
We ate a lot of the same foods for 30 days and we didn’t branch out and try to cook these crazy meals. Well, Kevin didn’t branch out. I suggested crazy recipes and then he said do you want to cook then? and of course I was like, no – steak and potatoes for the third day in a row is fine.
But we ate whole foods. Not the store, although we did go to Whole Foods in order to get a few Whole30 approved condiments: Tessamae’s ranch dressing, ketchup, and buffalo sauce. We ate real fruits and real vegetables and surprisingly, we felt freaking amazing!
We also ate out a couple of times. We had to move around day 20, so we went to Chipotle and Five Guys on the same day. Kevin went to Five Guys one other time during a work lunch. Turns out, you can still go out into the world and stay Whole30 compliant! There actually are places that serve healthy food!
- I feel amazing. I have more energy, I sleep better, I’m happier, the list goes on. I have struggled for a long time with anxiety and depression and I feel better than I have in years.
- I lost weight. I haven’t even weighed myself post-Whole30 yet, but I can tell you that I fit into jeans that I haven’t fit in for over a year. My stomach is flat and I don’t feel bloated all the time.
- I don’t snack anymore. Sure, sometimes I’m hungry in between meals and I grab something nutritious, but I don’t feel the need to buy a bunch of snack food. I eat 3 solid meals a day and I don’t need to mindlessly eat while I’m watching tv.
Let’s talk re-introduction:
I don’t even want to go back to eating the way I was before.
We re-introduced one food group per day, with one or two Whole30 reset days in between, so that we could see how it affected us. We re-introduced legumes first. We had apples with peanut butter for breakfast and chili with beans for lunch. Legumes had no negative effect on us so we are excited to introduce them back into our diet.
Then, we reintroduced dairy. We went all out, mainly because I knew it wouldn’t go well for me as I have had some dairy issues in the past, so I wanted it to be my last supper so to speak. We had chocolate milk with breakfast, yogurt and fruit for lunch, and ice cream after dinner (y’all know we went to Cold Stone). I felt horrible. My ice cream, which tasted damn good, wasn’t worth it. Kevin felt fine – lucky bastard.
Next, we re-introduced non-gluten grains. We had rice with dinner. I had no negative reactions to rice, and neither did Kevin, however it did make me feel hungrier than normal. After eating a whole meal — that normally would have satisfied me without the rice — I was still hungry! So, rice is not a good carb for me.
Last, we re-introduced gluten grains. Kevin had a meltdown after cooking for 40 days and 40 nights or something like that, and we went to Olive Garden. Let me preface this by saying that we love Olive Garden. We freaking love it. I was actually really excited because, what better way to reintroduce gluten than breadsticks and pasta? Right?
Wrong. Olive Garden was absolutely awful.
The breadsticks really don’t have as much flavor as you think, and they taste kind of doughy. My pasta was bland and unsatisfying. The dressing on the salad is way too sweet and they put so much on it. And I tried — unsuccessfully — to order 3 different kinds of flavored iced tea, but they were all so sweet and tasted like straight syrup.
Kevin thoroughly enjoyed his meal but his body was not happy with him later (and he ate probably half of what he normally eats at Olive Garden). I know what you’re saying, Olive Garden really isn’t that great to begin with, but it is like our favorite place. We love it! Sure, if we went to a better Italian restaurant, the food would probably taste better, but the point is that it’s all overrated.
So now that the Whole30 is over, what am I going to do?
- Read ingredient labels. Not buying anything that has a bunch of added sugar and chemicals. Matter of fact, next on my list is tackling all my hair products and lotions because I don’t really want to be putting toxic chemicals on my face or in my hair either.
- Eat real, whole foods. I will continue to stay mostly Whole30 compliant. I enjoyed the foods I was eating while on Whole30; they made me feel full and satisfied.
- Learn how to cook. Because Kevin needs a break every once in awhile or he goes a little crazy. Once I am proficient, I can venture out and try new recipes!
- Indulge, when it’s worth it. Kevin and I both get to decide what is worth eating and what isn’t. We’re still going to go out to eat, just not 3x a week. We’re still going to eat non-compliant foods, but only if it’s worth it. Kevin bought beer yesterday, but I haven’t had any because I don’t even really want it.
I would highly recommend this program to anyone who would like to start eating healthy, and also see what foods make them feel great and what foods don’t. Again, I have to say this:
It’s not hard.
It’s a choice. Make it work or don’t make it work. Put in the extra effort or don’t. Don’t eat certain foods if you don’t like them. I never ate brussels sprouts while on Whole30 and don’t plan on ever eating them again because they taste like dirty socks. Kevin doesn’t love sweet potato so we kept that to a minimum. We ate salad maybe twice and we put steak on top of it. We’re adults! We can choose what foods we want to eat! Healthy eating doesn’t mean eating a bunch of foods you don’t like!
A side note to all the parents out there:
Whole30 is going to be harder for you — but not impossible.
I know, you were irritated when I went off on my “eating healthy isn’t hard” mantra. I don’t have kids, so I will have to re-write this post in ten or fifteen years when I have managed to complete the Whole30 while raising two or four or seven rambunctious children. But, I am determined to do it. I’m also in a Facebook group with a million awesome mothers and fathers who completed the Whole30. Some of them made their kids do it with them, others didn’t. Some did it by themselves while their spouse ate pizza right in front of them (I could not even). So I know it can be done! Which is why I will still confidently say:
There are no excuses.
You have one body.
Take care of it.