The Whole30 really challenges you to examine what you put in your body. Food is a source of comfort for all of us in one form or another, and living without some foods–even just for 30 days–can seem scary. The good news is that the more you know, the more empowered you feel to try new things, take on scary challenges, and change your habits for the healthier.
Confession: I haven’t yet done the Whole30. I know, I know. I’m behind the trend a little bit here. Let me explain myself: I am particularly wary of food trends and fad diets for two reasons. The first, my mom is a registered dietitian. Her food philosophy is grounded in science, but it’s also about balance. Know what you are eating, cook good food, and damnit if you really want a fresh chocolate chip cookie out of the oven, then have it! And secondly, I’m a foodie. There is always parmesan cheese in my fridge and to quote Oprah “I LOVE BREAD!”
So when everyone on the internet started buzzing about this “diet” called the Whole30, I didn’t get it. My internal dialogue went something like, Ugh, here they go again thinking that some fad diet is a quick and easy way to lose weight. If people would just eat some vegetables and not buy processed foods, they wouldn’t need to diet! Why would you ever want to go that long without cheese?
Shifting My Perspective
If I’m being honest with myself (and you), I was being SUPER judgy without even doing the proper research. I hadn’t even read the book. So after talking to yet another friend who was embarking on the Whole30, I decided to ask my mom about it. “Let me do some research!” she said. When she called me back the last thing I expected was her resounding endorsement.
“I bought the book,” she said. “What?” Sensing my skepticism she replied, “Don’t worry, it’s not a diet!” After chatting a bit and learning just how closely the Whole30 aligned with her thoughts on food, I decided to give it a go. I even went out and bought my own book.
After reading the book, my mindset shifted. Instead of thinking about all of the things I would have to cut out, I started to think about all of the good and good-for-you foods I could add (you can eat mashed potatoes and guacamole!).
Hit Reset on Your Diet
Disclaimer: this is not a post on how to do the Whole30. If you want to try it yourself, please buy (and read) the book! I did take a few steps to begin my Whole30 journey, however.
First, I cleaned out my fridge and freezer. I eliminated anything that wasn’t Whole30 approved, using these ingredients in meals rather than just throwing things out. My freezer is now stocked solely with frozen fruit, veggies, and meat, and I have another huge bowl of produce on my table. Since you can’t have dairy, I made sure that I stocked my pantry with Ghee, Coconut oil, and olive oil for cooking.
I also collected some Whole30 recipes for inspiration through Pinterest and a great cookbook called “The Food Lover’s Cleanse.” I went through this book and marked the Whole30-approved recipes with sticky notes. The Whole30 book itself provides ideas for recipe resources and other means of support as well.
Finally, I had a Whole30 buddy in my mom. The authors of the Whole30 insist that you tell family and friends, and find another person or a whole community of people who will participate with you and support you as you complete the 30 days. Having someone to share recipe ideas, discuss thoughts and challenges, and to generally geek out about small successes makes the process fun.
While I haven’t completed the 30 days yet, just a few days of following the Whole30 rules have reinvigorated my love for cooking, and helped me feel prepared for when I actually do all 30 days. And to my surprise: I’m no longer scared of missing out on my beloved cheese.
I’m sure you are wondering why I am writing about the Whole30 if I haven’t even done it yet. I hear you. But here’s the point: sometimes it can be hard to start building new habits even when we want to change. Starting is often the hardest part, and I’ve learned some really valuable lessons about myself and my food habits through my Whole30 exploration.
I’ve been doing Whole30 Sunday through Thursday for the last two weeks, allowing myself to eat (pretty much) whatever I want on the weekends. Here is what I have learned so far:
I’m very sensitive to sugar. I’ve noticed that overall it’s easier to regulate my appetite, and I don’t crave bad-for-me foods when I’m hungry. However, the other day while at a coffee shop, I decided that a dark chocolate cookie would be perfect to eat for breakfast with my coffee, and I ended up feeling very nauseous for the rest of the day! It wasn’t fun, but I learned that refined sugar is really hard on my system.
It is easier to make good food choices. I don’t make poor food choices out of habit anymore. When I really want ice cream, I really do want it, and that’s when I really enjoy it.
Last but not least–I am capable of sticking with the Whole30. Practicing with Whole30 recipes has given me the skills and the confidence to go beyond a weekly regimen. In addition to trying new recipes and cooking more, I’ve seen the physical and mental health benefits of eating more healthy foods and eliminating the “less” healthy foods that the book talks about. This progress has eliminated the fear that I initially had, and has gotten me excited to complete the full 30 days!