Okay, so the banner is a bit premature – as I cannot fully claim to have finished the whole30 until midnight this evening, but I’m so excited to be able to say that I have completed this diet, this challenge, that I hope you’ll allow me these few hours of early indulgence. I promise, I won’t eat or drink anything I shouldn’t until after midnight tonight.
In case you’re confused, I have been on the “Whole30” diet throughout the month of August. The “Whole30” is a diet based on the research found in the book It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. A full review of this book will come out on this blog this Tuesday.
The “Whole30” diet is a diet plan that consists of eating unprocessed, aka “whole”, food for one month. This means that for the past month I have eaten only grass fed organic beef, chicken, non-sugar-added bacon, pork, wild-caught fish, organic/cage free eggs, vegetables and fruit. I’ve prepared that food using coconut oil or olive oil and seasonings (that do not add sugar or other chemicals).
This, of course, means that I haven’t eaten any of the following for a month: potato chips, any chips that come in bag, chocolate, wine, more specifically – alcohol of any variety, soda, bread, butter, cheese, dairy of any kind, candy, gum, flour, or anything that may have added sugar (as best as I could avoid it, at least).
The book, It Starts with Food, and the corresponding online literature is full of stories from individuals whose lives were dramatically changed through this diet. My experience, my story, is not that dramatic. However, maybe the boring, the mundane, the non-dramatic experiences in life are often overlooked as meaningless, and I want to change that in my own small way. So here is my experience of the “Whole30″ diet:
Before I started the diet I was 5’3” in height and a “normal” weight. My BMI was in the “healthy” range. Like most women in the United States, I would tell you that I had excess weight to lose, but my weight was not causing me any serious medical or psychological issues.
I read the book because a good friend of mine suggested that I do so. I started the diet because the book made a good case for why anyone should and I figured 30 days is not that long. Heck, life has been flying by – I’ll blink and it will be Christmas again so what is 30 days?!?
I would be lying if I told you I didn’t miss the foods that I have been choosing not to eat. I was at a going away party just last weekend where chips and salsa was served – I wanted a plate with a small handful or even just one. I can still imagine the satisfying crunch that chip would have had and the way the salt would have tasted with the salsa. During the first week, I would see potato chips that I didn’t even like, and I would want them with a desire that I have a hard time describing.
Many people speak of “feeling so much better” on this diet. They speak of having more energy. Honestly, I didn’t have that experience. The month of August was super stressful for me. I might even say that I have been experiencing some mild depression this month. However, even through that, I didn’t get sick. My body held up really well in the face of all that stress. I slept really well, deep sleep, healing sleep. I don’t feel as groggy when I wake up. I barely need my alarm any more.
The hardest week of the diet has been this last week. These past few days I find myself thinking “what’s the difference between a “whole28 and a whole30”? However, I can’t say I’ve completed the “whole30” if I give up with only 2 days to go.
I’ve heard so many people tell me, and maybe you’re even thinking this same thing: “I could never do that. I could never give up wine or cheese or fill in the blank with whatever food you love but would have to give up .” Before I started the diet, I tried to mentally prepare myself for when I might find that statement really annoying. However, by day 23, I found it very uplifting. The thing is, a year ago I am sure I would have said that same thing. Then I realized that a diet isn’t saying, “give up this food forever”, it says “why don’t you experiment with what life might be like without this food.”
What helped me most was thinking about all of the food that I could still eat: bacon, organic tomatoes, cucumber (which only taste better during week 3 than they did during week 1), bacon, bananas, guacamole, avocados, bacon. This reminded me that the diet is not about what I can’t eat, but what I am choosing to eat.
I haven’t weighed myself throughout the diet, but I’ve been told by many that I am looking healthier already. I’ve been told I look thinner. I’ve been told my skin is glowing. I won’t lie, these complements kept me going also.
While I didn’t have a big life-changing experience, it’s the small details that I have learned about myself that have made the diet worth it and have made it something that I think I will continue (with a few alterations). The small details are realizing that my sleep is better, that food does have a certain pull on me that I previously would have denied, that my clothes fit better, that all of this happened without me working out consistently.
I will be breaking my diet for the first time in 30 days tonight with a glass of red wine and a square of dark chocolate. Just thinking of that first bite of chocolate and sip of wine brings a smile to my face. However, that is not where the diet ends. I will slowly be reintroducing dairy, gluten, non-gluten bread, and legumes back into my diet. I look forward (with a little hesitation) to learning if I have any allergies to these foods. Once I know if I or my husband have an allergy to these foods, I think I’ll continue with the main guidelines of the whole30 and then I can decide how often I incorporate other items into my diet.