Monday—it’s the day most of us dread. The weekend adventures have come to an abrupt end; the traditional work week resumes; and suddenly our lives get way more hectic. That’s usually how I view Mondays, BUT! Mondays are also great in the way that they’re the refreshing start to a new week.
At the end of Friday’s post about being healthy when your partner isn’t, I mentioned that I’d have a little announcement today. As you can see by the title of this post, that announcement is that I am starting the Whole 30!
I actually had no interest in trying this because I feel I have a fairly “healthy” perspective on food, and I hate cutting out foods for various detoxes and such. However, a group of friends talked me into trying it out. So, I will be starting the challenging, restrictive month of eating next Wednesday.
I apologize for the fairly long post ahead. I can’t really sum up the Whole 30 in 200 words, though, but if you’re genuinely interested in what it is or maybe want to try it yourself, I encourage you to keep reading!
What Exactly Is the Whole 30?
If you’re not familiar with the Whole 30, it’s basically a 30-day diet reset. It’s a free program designed to change the way you think about and eat food. I haven’t read the book, so my experience—and summary—will be based off the comprehensive info available on their website.
To complete the Whole 30, you have to go back to the basics and cut out food groups that are often linked to disrupting the digestive system, causing an imbalance in hormone levels, and leading to inflammation within your body. More specifically, you completely rid your diet of added sugars, dairy products, grains, and legumes. By avoiding these foods, you may be able to determine if your normal diet is causing you health issues (e.g. depleting your energy levels, causing skin issues, preventing you from losing weight, etc.).
The Whole 30 isn’t meant to make you hate your life. Haha. Though I know it can be extremely difficult to get through without cheating. The website emphasizes the program is meant to help your body heal, change the way you perceive food, and stop cravings. Eat even a bite of pizza or put even a splash of milk in your coffee (#RIPtastycoffee), and they can’t guarantee you’ll reap the benefits. I feel like I’m constantly hearing about the program, and how it has helped tens of thousands of people lose weight and discover food allergies or sensitivities they may have.
What You CAN Eat
I think this next month will be a fun (and let’s be real, frustrating) challenge for my cooking creativity. Although you’re supposed to cut out a lot, there’s also a lot you CAN and SHOULD consume. This means:
- Meat—chicken, ground turkey or beef, steak, etc.
- Seafood—salmon, tilapia, tuna, cod, shrimp, scallops, etc.
- Eggs—hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, poached, etc.
- Vegetables—spinach, iceberg, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, all the potatoes, etc.
- Some fruit—apples, peaches, strawberries, oranges, etc.
- Healthy fats—avocado, olive oil, nuts (not peanuts), almond butter, seeds, etc.
In other words, the fewer ingredients in a food, the better (or they should at least be familiar and pronounceable). You want to eat unprocessed, whole foods. (Suddenly the name makes so much sense.)
What You CAN’T Eat
Sadly, this section is a bit extensive, only because I like to know EXACTLY what I can’t eat so I don’t accidentally think it’s “allowed” and then realize I sabotaged my results. So! Here’s a rundown of foods you need to avoid:
- Added sugars—white sugar, brown sugar, and even honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.
- Alcohol—beer, wine, or even anything in cooking.
- Grains—wheat, oats, corn, rice, quinoa, etc.
- Legumes—peanuts, beans, peas, lentils, even soy, tofu, etc.
- Dairy—cow, goat, or sheep products; so no milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, etc.
- Carrageenan, MSG, and other sulfites.
Exceptions to this list include clarified butter or ghee, fruit juice as a sweetener, some legumes (green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas—more pod than bean), vinegar, salt (although it often contains sugar, surprisingly).
Also worth noting:
The program encourages you to not re-create unhealthy baked goods, junk food, and desserts—even if they’re with whole 30-approved ingredients. Why? Because this is missing the point of resetting the way you see food and could make it more likely for you to return to your old ways once you’re done.
You can’t weigh yourself or take any measurements throughout the program, though you can before and after. (It’s more than about losing weight.)
You have to do every single day for 30 days—no cheats.
Why I’m Starting the Whole 30
I think one of the most frustrating parts of this month-long challenge is being surrounded by people who don’t get it. If they don’t understand why you want to improve your relationship with food, that’s fine. You’re doing this for yourself—not for others. And that’s exactly why I’m doing the Whole 30. I’m hoping it will teach me more about what I’m eating and how I can improve health for the future.
I’m especially curious if this will help with any of my annoying little problems, like skin issues (curse you eczema), random headaches I get, being bloated a lot, and feeling abnormally tired often (no offense, coffee; you’re my boo).
Pulling from tip #7 in Friday’s post (read: finding support elsewhere if your partner/family/roommate doesn’t get it), I feel lucky to have a couple other women who are in the middle of their Whole 30 journey help me get through the tough days. One of these friends, specifically, said something that has really stuck with me. Every time I think about how much I don’t want to eat such a restricted, ridiculously basic diet, I remember what she said:
“If I can’t make it 30 days without self-control I have a WAY bigger problem than just wanting to lose some weight. It’s really challenging, I won’t deny that. But I think that’s part of it…proving to yourself that you can do it…because you can! We’re all strong, capable adults. 30 days is not that difficult.”
In the grand scheme of things, this is not hard; there is so much more happening in the world that you may feel powerless to, but you have control over your diet (to a certain extent) and, therefore, your health.
Setting Myself up for Success
Okay, so the Whole 30. It’s pretty crazy considering the average person’s diet these days. I don’t feel like I eat too terribly, though, so I think I’ll have a much easier time than most people. My biggest concern? I love to cook—even more so, I love to bake. There’s a reason the cookie section of my recipes page is one of the most lengthy. I’m hoping my love for cooking in general will keep me motivated and trying new recipes with the approved ingredients though. Here’s how I plan to set myself up for success, following the Whole 30 every. single. day:
- Plan meals the weekend before and spend Sunday preparing everything.
- Eat leftovers as much as possible (something I learned while doing P90X).
- Gradually establish go-to recipes to take out some of the guess work.
Alright, who’s with me? I’m starting the program next Wednesday, October 19th. Yes, I realize that means I’ll be doing this over Halloween. I’d much rather give up sugar and alcohol over Halloween than all the goodness that comes next month during Thanksgiving though. #Priorities
Every Monday, as I start my new week of eats, I’ll be sharing a blog post that details my meal plan, as well as general thoughts on the program and my progress. Just FYI in case you want to follow along with my journey over the next month or maybe even join me!
If you made it this far into this post, I applaud you. 😉 The Whole 30 is no joke!!! I hope you’ll check out my upcoming posts, at the very least to view my meal plans and hopefully some new recipes!
Have you done the Whole 30 or know someone who has?
Any tips for a newbie?
**Let me know if you’re going to join me! I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments as I go through this. Every little bit of support makes such a huge difference. Ready? Break!