Please note that I am not a nutritionist. I am simply sharing my experience with this program. Consult your doctor before starting any program. This is not a sponsored post.
By now, many of you have probably heard of, and even tried, the Whole30 Program. The Mr. and I have been wanting to try it for a year now (see my previous post with recipe here), but living on an island with very limited access to fresh produce and meat, made it too difficult. Now that we’re living within walking distance of Whole Foods, the time was right.
What Is It?
Whole30 is a 30-day food program that eliminates most, if not all, of the foods that cause inflammation and other various negative impacts on your health. It also resets your relationship with food, both physically and mentally.
Why Am I Doing It?
Everyone’s reason for doing Whole30 is unique. I have had an unhealthy relationship with food for years. I have always associated food with comfort and also as a reward. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you start to associate unhealthy food with happy times, it can become a difficult habit to break. In addition, my sugar cravings were completely out of control. I was trapped in a vicious cycle of indulging in cravings, crashing mid-afternoon, and eating more junk just to get me to dinner. By the evening I felt like crap and had zero energy. Finally, I have had chronic stomach aches, back pain, and eczema for years, and I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
~ Whole30 prep grocery haul ~
What Can I Eat?
It’s important to note that while the list of things you can’t eat seems long, the list of foods you can eat is more than adequate! Here’s what is allowed on the program:
- all types of meat
- all types of seafood and fish
- vegetables (with a few exceptions)
- fruit (with some limitations)
- natural fats
What Can’t I Eat?
This list might seem daunting, but it’s necessary:
- sugar (includes honey, maple syrup, and artificial sweeteners)
- grains (including corn and other grains like quinoa)
- legumes (no beans, lentils, chickpeas, or peanut butter)
- dairy of any kind (except for clarified butter or ghee)
- no baked goods, treats, or the Paleo version of anything similar
Isn’t This the Same as the Paleo Diet?
No. While they share similarities, the parameters of the program, and the rationale behind it, are different. It’s important to note that while a food may be deemed Paleo friendly, it may not be Whole30 compliant. In fact, the program makes a strong point about not Paleo-lizing your favorite foods (ie. cauliflower crust pizza, Paleo banana bread, banana pancakes), as it misses the entire point of changing your relationship with food. It’s hilariously entitled “Sex With Your Pants On”, or SWYPO. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating Paleo, but that’s not what this program is about.
How Do I Get Started?
If you think this program may be for you, read It Starts with Food first. It explains the entire program, the reasoning behind the prohibited foods, and how to get started.
Isn’t it Hard?
Yes. It is always difficult to change your habits. To help myself along, I constantly remind myself that I have complete control over what I eat. To let something like a craving for a cookie derail me, is ridiculous. It’s just a cookie. It shouldn’t hold that much power! There’s a comical timeline that explains the challenges that many experience. So far, neither the Mr. or myself have experienced a lot of these, but we’re only one week in!
What Does a Week of Eating Look Like?
Here is my meal plan from my first week. You’ll see that I’m a creature of habit and prefer eggs in the morning. Tip: Rethink what breakfast is. If you would prefer to have leftovers, like a pork chop and veg for breakfast, then go for it!
~ click here for a larger version ~
I only had one high intensity tennis workout during the week, and you’ll see my pre and post workout snacks in my plan. For the rest of the week, I treated my body gently and focused on restorative yoga.
Challenges I Experienced in Week 1
- Not snacking. I’m a big snacker, usually of junk, so convincing my mind and body that I didn’t need a sweet treat at 10am and 3pm was tough.
- Eating within an hour of waking up. Because my hormones were so off from years of eating poorly, I didn’t wake up hungry. For the first few days I sat at the table like a 5-year old whining about having to eat. After just a few days, this became much easier.
- Sweet potatoes. I’ve never been a big fan, and having them almost every day is wearing on me quickly.
Positives I Experienced in Week 1
- For me, the biggest change is not needing a nap mid-day. Before, I could barely keep my eyes open by 2pm, and usually took a nap until 4pm, thanks my poor choices for lunch. From day 1 of the program, I haven’t needed to nap and I have lots of energy until bedtime.
- Zucchini noodles are a revelation. This spiralizer is my new favorite kitchen gadget!
- Less stomach pain and bloating. Turns out, my body prefers real food. Go figure.
Tips from Week 1
- Read the book! Then read it again. It’s imperative that you understand why the program is designed the way it is, and how to follow it successfully. When you’re done with that book, read this one.
- Meal planning and prep is the key to success. I can’t stress this enough. Be prepared to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. Thankfully, my husband considers the kitchen his man cave, but this can be tough for a lot of people.
- Read your labels. Lots of foods have hidden sugar, even unsuspecting ones like chicken broth. It may seem overwhelming and time consuming at first, but it gets easier.
Overall, I’ve had a fairly easy first week. I’m just starting week two, and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on how it goes. I’ll also be sharing my favorite Whole 30 recipes so stay tuned!
Have you done the Whole30?
Have questions about the program or the food? Leave your questions in the comments section below!