I Tried the Whole30, Here’s What I Learned
Five years ago, I went to my OB to confirm a pregnancy and they did a random check of my neck. After a series of tests, they found I had a large toxic cyst and I was later diagnosed with Hashimotos.
I had the surgery to remove that side of my thyroid when my baby was 6 months and it took two years for my medication to regulate.
In that time, I heard going gluten free could help so I started to experiment with diet. I started studying into Paleo, Whole30, AIP and mastered remaining gluten free.
Last April, I was reading about Whole30 again after a couple badly failed attempts. We were going to the beach in June and my bloating had grown so out of control, I had a customer at work ask if I was due to have a baby that summer. I decided the day after Easter to go on the Whole30.
I checked out several books on the Whole30 and read “It Starts With Food” from start to finish right before my big day. I joined several groups and announced on my website to give myself some accountability.
I also prepared myself for the sugar detox period. I figured with my eating habits, I would have some sugar crash. But I didn’t. It surprised me, but I looked hard at how I had been eating and since I was low grain and almost only homemade junk foods with very low dairy, I had a healthier than normal diet. As the days turned into weeks, I found it was getting easier but I felt like I had to obsess over eating.
We went to a buffet one day when I was 22 days in and I got some steamed kale. As soon as I ate the first bite, I started cramping and realized it had butter which, even with the one bite, I had to reset. Since resetting would put me either on the diet or doing the reintroduction during our vacation, I decided to hold off but the 22 days taught me a lot and gave me the same benefits.
What Is the Whole30?
The Whole30 is a major elimination diet and body reset. The rules are rigid, but it is not a weight loss diet. It is meant to make you aware of what you eat, what is in the foods you buy and how different foods affect your body.
It eliminates most of the potential trigger foods; dairy, sugar, grain, alcohol, legumes, certain preservatives or recreation of baked foods with compliant ingredients.
There are a lot of recipes out for Whole30 compliant desserts, but dessert is forbidden during the first 30 days. They also discourage weighing during the 30 days or taking measurements. The creators stress this is not a weight loss diet, although there are people who lose weight and inches.
Whole30 was designed to help people look hard at how they eat, what they eat, unhealthy relationships with food and how the foods they eat affect their body. You’re supposed to go 30 days strict and if you eat anything on the list, you have to reset. The reset is due to the food being put back in your body and your body needing to detox again.
Twenty two days without sugar, alcohol, preservatives, dairy, grains and legumes taught me a lot about the foods I eat, how easy cooking really is and how my body digests different foods.
Who I Think Would Benefit
I would recommend it to anyone with autoimmune disease, digestion problems, IBS or suspected allergies. I would recommend it to anyone who realizes they have an unhealthy relationship with eating and would like the reset.
These were some of my major takeaways and why I would recommend trying the diet.
- It works as a way to make you think about the foods you eat and what you buy. It’s strict and most foods are flat out banned. The pancakes you make every morning? You can’t even replicate those with approved foods. This is a 30 day elimination aimed at resetting how you shop and eat.
- It makes you actually look at what you’re buying. You have to carefully read the labels of foods you buy and you have to know what youre looking for. When you start, you’ll find it surprising to find out a lot of foods you ate regularly have problematic ingredients. I remember my first time looking for bacon. I had my kids screaming in the cart so I wouldn’t look like the crazy lady yelling at bacon. It took me over 10 minutes, but I finally found the one type of bacon that I could eat.
- Sugar is in everything. I knew our food had a sugar problem, but I didn’t realize how bad it was until I started reading everything I bought. Even normal bacon and sausage have sugar added and the no sugar versions were just as good, if not better.
- Some people slim down. This is not a weight loss diet, it’s not made to be sustained for the rest of your life and it’s not promoted to help lose weight but some people have found that ended up being the case for them. There are also some who felt so good, they stuck with eating that way for prolonged periods.
- It shows you foods you can’t tolerate. Even if you make it 3/4ths of the way and mess up, it takes those foods out long enough to show you what your problems are. I was surprised but pop and high sugar foods ended up making me sick and I went from a minor lactose intolerance to no longer being able to eat butter or chocolate without paying. If you go by their schedule to reintroduce foods, it helps.
- It will have you spending more time in the kitchen. I have loved cooking for a long time, but doing this elimination diet had me experimenting with different foods and trying new recipes. My dinner was almost always compliant, but I found a quick and easy breakfast I still make a lot.
- You’ll have to find new things to do besides mindlessly snack. Snacks are not allowed. If you need something, it won’t be banned but they are heavily discouraged. This diet is supposed to reset how you relate to food and if you’re mindlessly snacking out of boredom, that won’t help
- On the same note, you will appreciate the food you do eat more. By the middle of the 30 days, you’ll find you’ll be eating more mindfully and enjoying every bite. I also found I had a better ability to tell if I was hungry or bored/restless or feeling emotional.
- It is possible to eat healthy on a budget. My first shopping trip, I spent just under 100. When I loaded it in my trunk, it surprised me to see how full it was. I managed to stay around 500 for the month and all the foods were so much healthier.
Should You Try This?
If you’re struggling with sticking to healthy eating, constantly feeling sick, bloated or have other digestive symptoms or if you have just been diagnosed with a disorder that diet could help, this diet can help kick start.
It’s only 30 days, then reintroduction and even if you’re healthy and just looking to find a way to start a healthier diet, the Whole30 could benefit you as well.
Even messing up showed me major benefits and helped me find some really healthy and delicious meals that I could make quick.