Last month, I did my first Whole30. Here’s what happened and what I learned (recipes at the end!).
What is Whole30?
The Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.The Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup (Wikipedia).
Why I did Whole30
I had been having an upset stomach after certain meals and was wondering if I had a food sensitivity that I could identify through Whole30. I also wanted to do a reset with the start of the new year after the holiday season of eating and incorporate some new, healthy recipes into my diet. I had a few friends who had done Whole30 before and swore by it! They loved how they felt and they were willing to do it again with me in January so I thought it would be a good bonding activity together.
The Day by Day Journey…and all the emotions
Day 1: Woohoo, Whole30!
Day 2: Hangover Day. Sugar headache ALL DAY. Ibuprofen, for the first time in my life, did nothing. My body hates me. Life is hard.
Day 3-4: Feeling good!
Day 5: Second trip to Whole Foods in a week. This is going to be an expensive month. And I’m craving cake. I WANT A PIECE OF CAKE. I don’t even like cake but I really want cake.
Day 6-10: I feel great! I’ve got this and I have so much energy! I can actually say no to certain foods.
Day 8: Please give me major props for hosting a Belated Christmas Party with a cookie exchange while on Whole30. I ate an apple while everyone else at cookies.
Day 11: I WANT TO EAT ALL THE FOOD. You guys, I ate SO MUCH food this day. My appetite could not be appeased.
Day 13-14: I don’t even like food. Why do we even have to eat? Why do I have to feel hunger? What a waste of time. (Words I never thought I’d say or feel, but it was real, folks.)
Day 14: I decided to try a Paleo Chicken Alfredo recipe with cashews and coconut milk. Not a bad meal. UNTIL I WOKE UP WITH HIVES ALL OVER MY BODY. And discovered I must have a slight tree nut allergy. I’ve had cashews and coconut before but maybe with Whole30, I’ve never had tree nuts in this volume? It probably didn’t help that I was also using a coconut lotion. Anyways, Benadryl became a part of my Whole30 diet on this special day. So many life lessons on Whole30, friends.
Day 16: I have removed all coconut from my diet, beauty products, and cupboards. My mouth feels funny when I eat plantain chips and guac…and when I eat almonds later that day. Am I imagining things? Am I imagining allergy symptoms? I’m still itchy and don’t know what’s real anymore.
Day 18: More props wanted: I made my family AMAZING ice cream sundaes with brownie bites and ate strawberries instead.
Day 20: Another rough, delirious day. For some reason, I was super tired, lethargic and crabby. We attended a party at a bar and Aaron guilts me out of eating the BLT (without the bun, of course) because there’s probably sugar in the bacon. He’s quite a stickler for someone NOT doing Whole30. I retaliate by scraping the cheese and bacon off the slider and eating just the burger. During the magic show, I started to feel off and convince myself there were un-Whole30-approved seasonings in the meat and my body is retaliating. This probably means I’ll never be able to eat non-Whole30 again without feeling awful and therefore will never be happy again. It was a downward spiral. The cherry on the top of the rough day was the Vikings pathetic playoffs performance. I comforted myself with sweet potato fries.
Day 23: I realize I haven’t had a headache all month (not counting the anticipated Day 2 sugar withdrawal). I usually have 2-3 food-related headaches a month- this is huge!
Day 26: I FINALLY think I figured out my food allergy – CASHEWS. I had been having minor reactions the past two weeks and couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I had a cashew cookie Lara Bar and had a huge reaction. I then read the label of the other Lara Bar flavors and realized that a few of them had cashews which was probably why I had the milder reactions randomly through the week. I am now having nothing to do with cashews for my skin’s sanity.
Day 27: I am IN THE GROOVE. I can whip up a Whole30 meal out of whatever’s in the fridge and I’m feeling good about life.
Day 31: IT IS FINISHED. I celebrated big with hot chocolate, a big ginger, spinach and artichoke dip with bread, and chicken shots. I believe I had all the restricted foods in one meal. It was glorious and thankfully I didn’t get sick. (FYI – this reintroduction strategy is not encouraged by Whole30 but I couldn’t resist).
Day 32: You guys, there were free bread sticks at work and I was like, “Neh.” If I’m going to eat something processed I want to really want it. Healthy habits have been formed. I just need to keep using this muscle.
- I figured out that oil/grease it what is upsetting my stomach and I don’t have the other food sensitivities Whole30 helps you identify (alcohol, dairy, gluten).
- I realized how often I eat unconsciously. Right after the new year, we had a plate of Christmas cookies on the counter and every time I passed it, I wanted to grab one and realized I would have grabbed one every time I passed if I wasn’t on Whole30. That’s a lot of cookies and I wouldn’t have even realized it!
- I can say no. I’m strong enough to deny myself. I was just listening to a podcast about Lent and they talked about how little we practice self-denial in our culture. Why wait for anything or deny yourself anything? It was powerful to realize I have the power to say no to things that I usually give in to.
- If you know me, you know I hate fruit. Like, apples sometimes make me gag. But on Whole30, fruit was pretty much my only source of sugar. Suddenly, fruit was a treat and, you guys, I voluntarily ate an apple…and enjoyed it. I’m not a huge sugar person, so maybe the trick is to minimize artificial sugars and trick my body into wanting the fruit? We’ll see.
Where do I go from here?
- I don’t have any food sensitivities…except to grease and cashews. So, since I don’t, I think I will go back to eating all the foods I couldn’t on Whole30. (I ate all the foods on my first day off and felt fine- no reactions- yay!)
- What I will keep is moderation and the discipline to say no. What if I only had an after dinner snack or drink one weeknight a week rather than three? Wouldn’t I probably enjoy it more knowing it’s not a given? Wouldn’t my body feel better with less junk? (I’ve already experienced success with this!)
- I want to incorporate more clean eating than I did before. And I now have the recipes and tools. Maybe clean eating for breakfast and lunch and I can eat more freely at dinner? I’m still figuring it out. But I did find some meals I really like and want to be a part of my diet moving forward (see below).
- Since greasy meals do affect me, I want to be intentional about not having two greasy meals in a row– that’s usually when I start to feel not so great.
- I want to be more conscious and intentional about what I eat. Which probably means not having candy and cookies out on the counter 🙂 Maybe just a fruit bowl.
If you’re thinking about doing Whole30, I’d highly recommend it! Here’s why:
- I love that there is no restriction on how much you can eat (often a dangerous and counter-productive practice that does not develop a healthy relationship with food).
- It develops discipline.
- It can identify food sensitivities.
- It can help break bad habits (like my subconscious eating).
- It can develop good habits and skills (like taking the time and learning how to cook meals with real food + planning ahead).
- It’s a good cleanse/reset for your body.
- It shows you how good you can feel when you feed your body well.
- It introduces you to new clean recipes and foods.
My Favorite Recipes
- Pizza Egg Bake – I’m not sure Whole30 pepperoni exists, so I used Italian Sausage instead.
- Salsa Verde Chicken (Crockpot Recipe) – So yummy and easy! It’s great on a salad since the juices serve as a dressing. Same with these Crockpot Carnitas.
- Sheet Pan Chicken & Veggies – Roasted veggies is my new fav and pretty quick and easy! Roasted chicken is pretty scrumptious too.
- Plantain Chips & Guacamole or Salsa – PLANTAIN CHIPS AND GUACAMOLE GOT ME THROUGH WHOLE30. And La Croix. I think I might continue to use plantain chips instead of tortilla chips…something I never thought I’d say.
- Classic Chili – I’m not a big beans person anyway so I actually preferred this recipe to normal chili. This taco soup was similar and also yummy.
- Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce – Super easy and the sauce helps mask the fact that you’re not having pasta.
- Stuffed Peppers.
- Sweet Potato Fries & Whole30 Ranch – This was my “treat” on Whole30. Very easy and yummy.
- Swedish Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes – If you need comfort food on Whole30, this is it. The gravy tastes like butter 🙂