When you hear the word 'diet', you automatically assume you'll be cutting calories, eating bland foods, and cutting out everything you love. While for a lot of diets that is true, the Whole30 diet, or program as I like to call it, is way more than just that. I did not see this as a diet, as it only lasted for 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days, and a regular diet program makes you do it for way longer than that. Well, I just finished the Whole30 program, and here's my honest opinion on it.
I can't even remember when I bought the Whole30 cookbook. It must have been a couple of years ago, and it just sat there. I liked a few recipes from it but never did the program even though I told myself I should and would someday. Now, I am someone who works out a lot. From strength training to HIIT workouts, to say I'm obsessed with health and fitness is definitely an understatement. But my eating habits, like anyone, could have been better.
I can easily eat a bag of all dressed chips while watching a TV show. And I wanted to stop doing that. I also wanted to get rid of my addiction to sugar, because it was thriving. So, at the beginning of December, I set out to start the Whole30 on January 1st. After talking with my naturopath on if he thought this was a good idea, which he did, I decided to go for it full force.
At this point, you're probably asking, "What is the Whole30 program?" I'll break it down for you. Whole30 is when you eliminate dairy, gluten, grains, alcohol, sugar, legumes, and processed foods. So what CAN you eat, is probably your next question. Well, a lot, actually. You can eat meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats such as nuts and some oils. It's pretty much a 'paleo' diet, there are some very important rules you have to stick to:
- No weighing yourself or counting calories! You can weigh yourself before you start (and take measurements), and then on the day after Whole30.
- Even though things such as eggs, almond flour, and all that good stuff is compliant, you can't make any desserts or pancakes. That's what they consider "sex with your pants on".
- You MUST check the label on everything you eat. No, not for the calories, for the ingredients. It's absolutely insane how much sugar and sneaky ingredients are in food once you actually pay attention to it.
There are a ton of other rules as well, but those ones are the most important. Oh, and if you mess up, you must start over. So read your labels.
The first day of any program is easy. You wonder why more people don't do things like this and feel like a superhero. And you should! Getting out of your comfort zone for any reason is a good reason to be proud. While I would say I eat very well normally, I felt the sugar detox real hard. I had a headache that would not budge even though I was drinking SO much water. I don't even really remember the first week, because I did not feel great.
I can't even tell you how many food dreams I had. I have never, ever dreamt about food, and every single night for about 2 weeks, I was having the most vivids dreams of all time. One night, I dreamt that I was eating a Cadbury milk chocolate bar (I haven't eaten dairy in a year and a half, so...), and in the dream, I thought, "I should not be eating this". The dreams were so vivid that I would text my roommate them pretty much every morning. But, that means I was in my REM sleep which is the deepest sleep you can have. Score!
By the end of the second week, things were getting much easier. For breakfast, I was having eggs, bacon (with no sugar, which is hard to find) and some form of potato. For lunch, I was usually having leftovers from dinner from the night before, and for dinner, I switched it up a ton. I think my favourite thing I made was zucchini enchiladas which were to die for.
Not only was I feeling good, but my workouts were better than ever. I started doing full body workouts instead of splits all in January and noticed a huge change in my body. I think that super clean eating mixed with a new workout routine really changed my whole body. And my mind felt so clear. I also have to say that I get really bad leg cramps, and have pretty much ever since I started working out. Well, during Whole30, those leg cramps disappeared and came back... only when I eat sugar.
The point of Whole30 is not to say "these foods are bad for you, so cut them out forever". That's really the opposite. The point of Whole30 is to change your relationship with food, to see it as fuel instead of as a reward. It's also to see what foods agree with you and don't, as you have to reintroduce foods slowly back into your diet after. It's 30 days of your life, and it was not hard.
The month went by sooo fast. To be honest, January was one of the worst months for me in the past couple of years. And I am so glad I had Whole30 to hold me accountable so I could do something for me. By the end of Whole30, I didn't even want to go back to 'regular' eating. I wanted to eat like this forever, but even the creator Melissa Hartwig Urban says that's not an ideal situation because you have to live life. That's where food freedom comes in.
Food freedom is what happens after Whole30, which is where I'm at now. When you reintroduce foods back into your diet, which you can find out more about when you do the program, you'll be in a state of 'food freedom'. Food freedom is essentially figuring out if a food is worth it to you. Does it give you a stomach ache? It's up to you to eat it, as it may not be worth it afterward for those few bites. Living in a state of food freedom is essentially eating Whole30, and then deciding what you want to eat otherwise based on how things make you feel.
I can truly say trying Whole30 was the best decision I've made in a while. If you feel crappy, tired, lethargic, and just plain unhappy every day it could be your diet. You really don't notice how much crap and junk you're putting into your body until you look at ingredient lists and can't pronounce half the foods.
I now know that sugar is a problem for me, as it causes inflammation. I now know that I can definitely live without beans, but I love chickpeas. I haven't eaten dairy and gluten in a year and a half after doing an elimination diet to check for intolerances, so I didn't need to take that out or add it back in. But you'll truly never know what foods are upsetting your stomach or giving you migraines unless you remove them from your diet.
Whole30 is the perfect way to do that while changing your life. Don't look at Whole30 as a diet that restricts you. It's only 30 days, and it's the least bit restrictive. The only things you can't have are things that your body can absolutely do without, so why not try it?! Oh, and I'm sure you're wondering how much weight/inches I lost. I have not weighed myself in years, so no idea. But I lost 4 inches all around and my clothes fit so much better. While this is great, the Whole30 program is not a weight loss program. It's so much more than that.