Who would have thought that a diet plan would make me feel inspired to write? Why? Well not only was my Whole 30 experience a good one, but I so appreciated all the blog posts I could find on the subject as I was working my way through the diet that I wanted to add to that collection of helpful posts in the online world. And because I seem to have an issue with being “wordy,” this has turned into a 5-part series (Yes, FIVE – who does that?) instead of the 2 posts I thought I would write originally! P.S. This post is not sponsored in any way by the Whole 30 program.
- Part 1: Intro to Whole 30 & Why to Try it
- Part 2: My Whole 30 Experience & Results
- Part 3: The Whole 30 Recipes & Foods We Liked
- Part 4: Tips for a Successful Whole 30
- Part 5: After Whole 30 & How I’m Doing
What is the Whole 30?
If you haven’t heard of Whole 30 before, it’s a diet plan that’s basically an elimination diet with the main purpose of discovering issues with food as well as resetting your tastes and helping you learn to choose better foods for you. It also helps you work on discovering your psychological reasons for eating. So yes, Whole 30 is eating whole foods for 30 days. It’s obvious which of your friends are on the plan – you’ll see #whole30 on Instagram & Facebook with many pictures of food (I did the same!) just to show that you do actually get to eat delicious food while you’re doing it. And when you’re doing it, you want to see everybody else’s pics for more inspiration to keep on going.
I had always thought it sounded like a good plan, but too crazy for me with all the eliminations. I didn’t actually set out to do it in January, but my boss and some coworkers decided to do it and I (and my husband) jumped on board. The best part was that we knew we were all doing it at the same time and set up group Pinterest boards to share ideas as well as a private Facebook group to help encourage or vent or share recipes. And one coworker had done it a couple of times before, so she was able to share a lot of helpful info with us.
In a nutshell, on Whole 30, you have NO…
- Sweeteners of any kind (not even natural other than fruit or pure fruit juice)
- Trace amounts of any of these in the list of ingredients!
There are a handful of other ingredients you can’t have as well – the website gives you all the rules to follow. What can you have? Basically meat, veggies, and fruit. Coffee & tea are still OK, but without sweetener or dairy. And water, of course!
Getting Ready for a Whole 30 Experience
Once we decided that we would participate, I knew that I had a lot of planning and prep to do. I did buy The Whole 30 Book, which is nice to have but honestly you can find everything you need online for free in order to successfully make it through the 30 days. I had to figure out what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I planned out a week at a time and then we shopped and shopped. And then I had to be ready to prep for every meal, which some of you are like, “So what, Lisa? I do that every. day. Everyday.” But I have been working full time and had fallen completely off the wagon of meal planning and prep. So this was system shock for me.
Let me tell you, you won’t make it through if you don’t plan ahead and prep. You can’t fall back on fast food, or even most pre-made packaged food from the store. Everything seems to contain a trace of something you can’t have! It’s one of the good/bad parts of the plan.
You have to read EVERY label of every kind of food, and then you discover that sugar has been added to basically everything that exists and if not, then they’ve put in a trace amount of something else you can’t have so you decide if it has a label at all, you probably can’t even eat it.
That’s extremely annoying, but it’s so so good to start knowing what you’ve really been eating so you can make better decisions in the future. Not that you need to give up everything with trace amounts of sugar, but to be aware is to choose less of those items and go for more of the real/whole foods.
It seems like following a plan like this would make you completely miserable in about 2 days, and yes, the first few days are difficult. It’s mostly mental, or at least it was in our case. I gave up my morning lattes, so that was rough. I didn’t necessarily physically crave them, but psychologically I really really wanted one. After you tough out the first few days, I’ll be very honest – it’s just not as hard as you expect it to be (other than the extra food planning & prep and almost NO eating out).
It sounds worse than it really is and if you use the opportunity to make some new and exciting recipes, you’ll find the experience somewhat enjoyable. And oh my – the real taste of food! You start to realize that you’ve been missing it all this time and how is it possible that plain fruit is that sweet? By following the plan properly, your physical cravings for certain foods disappear and you (mostly) won’t be getting those extreme carb cravings or hitting the 3 pm slump.
Overall, I know it sounds like a crazy plan, but it’s just for 30 days! I highly recommend it, first as a way to see if you do have any food issues, but mainly as a way to force yourself to really look at your food labels, to get back into cooking and finding new recipes to try, to reduce your taste for sugar/sweetness, and to reset your diet. If there’s weight loss, that’s a bonus.
Is it easy? No. There’s a lot of work and planning and you will mentally really miss some foods and get a little cranky about it, but remind yourself that it’s only 30 days and then you can have that item again. I do think it’s very much worth the effort. Remember that this isn’t some miracle diet that will change your ways forever. You could very easily go back to eating the way you did before and your tastes will go back to what they were and you may gain weight back. This is a chance to start fresh and do better and go cold turkey off the stuff you’ve been trying to do with less of.
Are you intrigued enough to look into trying the Whole 30 Experience? I say go for it! But plan ahead and try to go for a 30 day stretch when there aren’t a bunch of celebrations. Don’t set yourself up like that. Try and make it as easy as possible. Stay tuned for Part 2 (in about a week) and I’ll tell you about my Whole 30 experience throughout the 30 days and what some of the results were. Hint: All good.