What I Learned from Whole30: Yesterday marked day 30 of my recent Whole30 journey. Today I want to talk about what I learned.
What is Whole30?
But first, what is it? Here’s a quick rundown for those who may not know about Whole30.
Whole30 is a food program that’s like an elimination diet. For 30 days, you cut out all grains (including whole grains and corn), legumes (including soy and peanuts), dairy (cow, goat, and sheep), sugar (including natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar as well as Stevia), and alcohol. At the end of the program, you add foods back in one at a time to see how your body responds.
Why Did I Do Whole30?
I admittedly spend a lot of time on Instagram. And this month in particular, there have been lots of conflicting messages about dieting and anti-dieting, how to detox, how to reset, how to lose 10 pounds, how to reject diet culture, etc. Quite frankly, it’s been overwhelming even to me.
It gave me more to think about as I openly shared I was doing Whole30 and I believe I lost a few followers because of it. But it also gave me time to process why I decided to do the program.
These reasons are all connected and intertwined:
- I wanted to follow an elimination diet. I’ve shared before that I suffer from stomach aches pretty regularly, slow digestion, and bloating. This was not my first time completing a Whole30, and I LOVED how I felt the last time I did it. I wanted to feel that way again. And I wanted to see if I could learn more about how to make it more sustainable and more of a lifestyle for me.
- I wanted to have a reason to step back from gluten, dairy, and sugar. As someone who has not been formally diagnosed with celiac disease or dairy intolerance, I find it hard to step away from those things when I don’t have a concrete reason to. I mean, they’re tasty! But I know when I cut those things out, I feel better and I can’t explain why. My digestion is improved, my skin clears, and I feel lighter. But it’s increasingly harder to say no in the short term (when the food is there) for longer-term gain (better digestion).
- I wanted a break from wine. (I know, I’m crazy.) When my husband and I were dating, we maybe had wine together two times a week. Then, when we got married, started living together, and cooking together, the nights we didn’t have wine started to become few and far between. I also know that wine is a trigger for me. It turns off my hunger cues and makes me crave sweets after meals. I also can’t stick to just one glass. So I was happy to have an excuse not to have it. (But I did miss it. More on that below.)
- I wanted accountability. Knowing that if I talked about doing Whole30 on Instagram and in my Instagram Stories, I would stick to it. I sometimes need outside accountability to see something through vs. just telling myself that I want to do or will do something.
What I Learned from Whole30
I’m only on day 1 post-Whole30 so I don’t have much wisdom to share related to the reintroduction of foods but I do have a few thoughts about the program and if it might be right for you.
- Just like I thought, I love the way I feel while doing Whole30 but I recognize it’s not sustainable. We ate out for dinner one time in 30 days (and it was the cheapest meal in a restaurant we’ve ever had). Some good friends graciously had us over for dinner and served a Whole30-approved meal but it would be hard to ask others to do that regularly.
- I slept better and my skin is clearer. Those two reasons alone are enough to keep me motivated!
- The second round was easier than the first (which I did two years ago) and I didn’t feel pressured to make elaborate dinners each night like I did during my first round.
- I realized we eat Whole30-approved meals quite frequently even when we’re not doing Whole30. I read ingredient labels like a hawk and I don’t buy things with added sugar or soy anymore. Makes doing Whole30 much easier!
- I missed the ritual of having wine but not the way it makes me feel. There is just something about coming home from work and having a big glass of red wine. And no sparkling water is going to take the place of that. It’s also a shared activity that I do with my husband and I missed that too.
- I think you can use Whole30 to justify restrictive behavior. If you’re someone who has a history of restrictive eating, I’m not sure the program is for you. But on the other hand, I’ve had lots of friends experience “food freedom” after completing a Whole30. “Food freedom,” as defined by the Whole30 program is “feeling in control of the food that you eat, instead of food controlling you.” You need to know yourself and the true reasons behind why you want to do it before you start.
- Don’t do this program to lose weight. Some experience weight loss after 30 days, especially those who don’t eat this way on a normal basis, but that is not a reason to do it.
- I LOVED planning my meals out each week. It made grocery shopping easier and faster, and I knew what we were having each night when I came home. There was also less food waste at the end of each week. Win-win. This is something I plan to continue going forward.
Have you done Whole30? If you haven’t, are you considering doing it?