Should You Do a Whole30?

Last week I talked about the Whole30 and some awesome things the food elimination program has done for me and my relationship with food. After reading, you may be wondering if it’s something you should give a shot as well.

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I want to say that everyone should do a Whole30! It really is life-changing. I’ve learned things about myself that go way beyond just food. If you think you would like to learn more about how food works in YOUR body, do a Whole30. If you want to learn more about your psychological relationship with food (like why you’ve struggled to adhere to healthy eating plans in the past, or are stuck in a yo-yo dieting cycle), do a Whole30. I have learned a lot about myself and how food affects me (mentally and physically) from doing Whole30s. While I personally do not have any particular health conditions (such as an autoimmune disease), I know of many others who do and have been helped tremendously by doing a Whole30. I never went into Whole30 with the purpose of losing weight, but there are countless stories of weight loss from those following the program.

However, if you are recovering from any sort of eating disorder, tread carefully, this may not be for you. Although the Whole30 recommends staying away from any sort of calorie or macro-counting and instead following your internal cues for satiety, it is a restrictive diet and could pose a problem for some people because of that.

If you decide to do a Whole30, actually do it. I see so many people say “Oh well, I just couldn’t help but I have honey in my coffee” or “I just had one cocktail last night, instead of two, so that’s good!”, then complain they just didn’t get good results. That is not Whole30. The rules are very clear. You will not gain the full benefits of the Whole30 unless you stick to the program 100% for the full 30 days. You owe it to yourself to give it your all for 30 days, which is really not that long in the grand scheme of things. I recommend reading It Starts With Food first. It gives you the WHY behind the Whole30, which can give you an extra boost of purpose to use in those difficult moments when you just want a freakin’ piece of chocolate!

After you have completed the Whole30, be sure to properly follow reintroduction protocol. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! I don’t think enough weight is given to this among the Whole30 community. So much focus is put on the Whole30 itself, yet I see so many people struggle in life after. Take the time and find out what foods you can handle (mentally as well as physically) and which ones you can’t. You do not need to feel guilt for eating non-Whole30 foods in life after if they make you feel good. You do not need to do Whole30 every day for the rest of your life. Find out what works for you and roll with it, knowing that this will probably change as time goes on, which is why it is still important to do a proper reintro, even if it’s your 2nd or 3rd or 4th round.

The Whole30 is hard, but it is SO worth it. If you are struggling with food/sugar addiction, weight loss, or health problems, the Whole30 just may be your golden ticket.

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What the Whole30 Did for Me

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The Whole30 has played a HUGE part in my relationship with food over the past few years, and I think it’s worth sharing exactly how. It’s gotten be pretty popular over the past few months, but let me give you a quick run-down of what the Whole30 is. Be sure to check out their website for full details. The Whole30 is a 30-day program meant to eliminate foods that can potentially create a negative physiological and psychological response in your body. This is then followed by a careful, systematic reintroduction of those foods to discover which ones are most troublesome for you.

So what does the Whole30 eliminate? Grains, legumes, dairy, added sugar (not even honey or maple syrup), carrageenan, MSG, alcohol, and added sulphites. Treats and junk foods (including french fries and potato chips) are not allowed to be recreated with technically compliant ingredients. Additionally, you are not allowed to weigh or measure yourself (or your food) for the duration of the 30 days. When I first heard about it, I thought it was insane and entirely impossible for me. It kept popping up though, and finally I decided to give it a try. After all, it’s only thirty days, right? I have since completed three Whole30s. Here is what I gained from them:

 

  • I learned that I can say no. I have always found it difficult to say no to food offered me out of fear I would offend or make myself look like the food weirdo. But when I was doing the Whole30 I had a legitimate reason to say no, and this carried over into my life after Whole30. It turns out I’m an adult and I don’t have to eat anything I don’t want to. My health is way more important to me than a cupcake, and most people don’t really care what I eat anyways. (I didn’t fully grasp this until my 3rd Whole30, just so you know).
  • I can now recognize what is a psychological craving, driven by emotions (as opposed to a biological need). Not eating from my emotions is still hard, but at least now I’m aware of it and I’m working on it.
  • I can throw together a totally healthy meal in no time. And when I know I really won’t be able to cook, I’ve gotten to be pretty good at being prepared with pre-made (homemade) meals. Not having time really isn’t a good excuse to not eat well.
  • I am SO much more aware of what is in my food. Holy moley. Who knew there was sugar lurking in EVERYTHING?! I eat far less processed foods than I ever have because they are pretty much all full of terrible junk.
  • I am continuing to seek out more information about the effects of not only my food choices, but other products I use. I’m digging deeper into the products I buy, such as cleaning and beauty products, to see how those might have an affect on me as well.

 

So, that’s the short story of what the Whole30 has done for me. I will do more Whole30s in the future, so it’s a story that will continue to evolve. If you are considering doing a Whole30, come back next week where I will dig a little deeper into making that decision.

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