Friends, I completed my first Whole30 (W30) mid-March. If you don’t know what W30 is, visit their website. Basically, the only things you’re allowed to eat are high quality protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats…that’s it. No sugar, bread, beans, dairy or processed foods for 30 days. It’s meant to act as an introduction to healthy eating and the paleo diet as well as promote a healthy digestive tract, immune system and psychological relationship with food.
I certainly learned a lot about my body and my relationship with food during my 30 days. The first week was awful; my digestive tract was “recovering”, I had a consistent sugar headache, and I was really emotional. It was actually really similar to PMS (TMI? Don’t care). My first “test” to stick to W30 came when I was at NC State’s Recruitment Weekend and had to go back to my room and get some W30 food I had brought with me. They were serving sandwiches, chips, and cookies for lunch, none of which was W30. It was really difficult to watch everyone else eating “regular” food and have to eat something else, especially since it singled me out. Food is social too, y’all. I really hated that I couldn’t eat my normal foods because nothing was satisfying. I was over the “newness” of the program by the end of that weekend.
Throughout my weeks, I noticed very clear patterns in my eating habits. When I was stressed, especially if I was lacking sleep, I had more intense cravings more frequently. I really missed Cookout, which was my go-to food for a stressful mood. At one point, I was smelling it even though there was no food around me. #phantomcookout By day 9, I was waking up hungry, which is a sign that hormone levels are normal, and was beginning to forget the late-night hunger/impulses to eat. Yay! I had a couple emotional days when I was very tired, dehydrated, and HUNGRY all the time. I think my body hadn’t figured out yet that I was giving it real food. It definitely still missed the sugar and bread.
On day 13, my sister arrived from Seattle with a list of restaurants she wanted to visit while in town. I was really afraid of going off-plan because eating out on W30 is challenging. You have to ask your server a number of questions like “What oil do you use to cook your veggies?” and “Is there added sugar in the marinated chicken breast?” It doesn’t sound like trouble, but we were sending servers to the kitchen three and four times before we ordered. It took the fun out of eating out and people got really tired of hearing about our diet at every meal. Not to mention, it was a real test of discipline not to order old favorites like pasta and bread.
In the third week of W30 is really when I started seeing some great results, clearer skin, less cravings, better sleep (hallelujah), and a smoother digestive system. I noticed that some things like fruit juice and dried fruit were too sweet for me, and I could drink coffee black without cringing. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, which I think affected my results. But aside from the tiredness, I was feeling great. On day 23, I fell in love with mustard because it’s one of the only condiments you can have on W30. My taste buds were like, “Woah, did it used to taste like this? Cause damn.” I put that junk on everything. Delicious. I hit food boredom around day 25, but it quickly went away and I noticed my energy levels were high, like crazy high. I was SUPER excited to be grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and laundry and everything was awesome…
And then it was Day 31, and I added sugar to my coffee. One of the things I kept saying during my W30 was, “It’s a slippery slope”, and boy did I slip all the way down that hill. I did pretty well at first, following the “reintroduction” protocol. After my sister’s friends visited one weekend and we had sushi and cheesecake and wine, so much wine, it was over. “It” being reintroduction and all the healthy eating habits I learned on W30. Since then I haven’t been able to be W30 for more than a day. I tried starting another W30, but I didn’t plan well, so I ended up ordering a pizza after a very very stressful day. Sarah and I have decided to create a more sustainable W30 –style eating plan rather than complete another W30, you know, cause ice cream. I saw great weight loss results with W30, and I’d like to keep that going so I think I’ll stick pretty close to the guidelines.
You should try Whole 30 and tell me how it goes! Really, it is amazing and changes how you interact with food. But, don’t expect to fix a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits in just 30 days; it’s going to be an ongoing process.