If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I cut my Whole 30 short. I lasted 23 1/2 days (hey, that half day counts) and then decided that I had had enough. I was having trouble controlling my cravings. Not cravings for sugar or treats or unhealthy foods, but cravings for carbohydrates and just overall more variety. So, today I thought I’d share a quick recap discussing my thoughts on the Whole 30 and what I learned about my body while partaking in this re-set.
Throughout the Whole 30, I found it hard to consume enough carbs for what my body requires at this point in my life. It’s important to note that I workout 5 days a week and am exclusively breast feeding my 7 month old son. Someone who perhaps goes to the gym 3 days a week, is able to sleep through the night and doesn’t have a little one to produce food for will have entirely different needs from me. It IS certainly possible to get enough carbohydrate while doing a Whole 30. After all, foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and fruit are all dense forms of carbohydrate. But here’s the thing – I WAS eating a lot of those foods. I definitely re-kindled my love for egg stuffed potatoes and oven roasted squash but they just weren’t filling that gnawing void. And after eating only those starches for a couple weeks I was getting tired of them. I also upped my fruit intake, but that didn’t sit well with my stomach. A lot of fruit is just too hard for me to digest and I prefer to not eat a lot of sugar.
All this being said, I have no regrets in partaking in a Whole 30. The first couple weeks were great. No, not easy, but great. I felt good, my energy was stable, I was able to clear my sugar cravings and I became more in-tune with my body and what I was eating. Yes, the first few weeks were what I needed to re-set my body. But mid-way through the third week I started struggling. I’m not exactly sure why it took that long for my body to decide that it was done and ready for a more relaxed, higher carbohydrate diet. Perhaps my workouts were more intense or my baby was eating more. I don’t have those answers but I do know that’s when I started to feel like a change was in need.
One of the biggest lessons I learned (besides that I love rice – oh how I missed rice) was that I was eating way too many nuts and they were giving me stomach pains. It was nothing intense, but running to that jar of almond butter between meals was not sitting well in my stomach. I made the decision to cut back on nuts, eliminate almonds, and switch to seeds (sunflower and pumpkin) for a while and those issues went away.
I’ve seen discussion about the cost of doing a Whole 30 and that it is too expensive. Well, we spend a lot of money on food. Yep. I try to buy mostly organic, non-GMO, pasture-raised (beef & chicken), wild-caught (fish), preservative-free, dye-free food and it IS expensive. Our grocery bill did not change while I went on the Whole 30. It didn’t change because we mostly eat this way day-to-day. My husband and son did not follow this protocol, but if they had we actually might have spent a little less. Why? Because the snack food that I buy for my family is what’s most expensive. (Things like: Simple Mills Crackers, Mary’s Gone Crackers, RXBARs, Love Grown Cereal, New Primal jerky…) Healthy packaged foods cost a lot. But they’re nutritious and convenient, so we go ahead and purchase them. My husband and I are investing in our health and the health of our kids so we prioritize spending money on wholesome, nutritious food. Plus, we really like these products and want to support companies who are trying to do the right thing and provide real food products.
Another topic I’d like to cover: weight loss. I didn’t lose any weight on the Whole 30 (didn’t gain any either), but that doesn’t mean people don’t. The type of food I was eating didn’t change drastically and neither did my calorie consumption (at least that’s what I assume). What I did was “clean-up” my diet. I cut out foods that were giving me cravings and causing me to mindlessly eat. I cut back on sugar and other inflammatory foods and focused on real, whole, nourishing meals. What the Whole 30 did give me was re-defined taste buds (100% dark chocolate isn’t even too bitter for me anymore), a super clear complexion (my skin is usually great, but I noticed even clearer skin while on the protocol), great digestion, no feeling bloated or gassy, and amazing sleep (yah, the kids still woke me up at night but I had no trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep after being woken up). There are many benefits to following a “diet” other than weight loss, many of which I would argue are more important.
Would I recommend doing a Whole 30? Well, it depends. Are you in a good space mentally? Meaning, do you have a healthy relationship with food and your body and you are interested in following this protocol to re-train your taste buds and clean up your diet? Also, how do you eat now? There’s a huge difference from following a standard American diet and going Whole 30 to following a mostly Paleo diet and going Whole 30. Depending on your current eating habits, diving into the Whole 30 can be too drastic of a change (in my opinion). These are the questions I would ask myself first before deciding to do a Whole 30. I don’t think this protocol is necessary to be healthy, but I also don’t think it is unhealthy if you have the proper mindset.
Concluding thoughts: Lastly, I just want to mention that it is absolutely, 100% okay to start a protocol (“diet”) like this and stop mid-way. You are not a failure, you’re not any less of a person for not completing it or abiding by your own rules. The 20 some days that I did the Whole 30 were worth while and served their purpose. That was all the time I needed to re-set my cravings and feel back to normal. For some people, this type of protocol may not work. Perhaps after 10 days you stop and decide it’s not working and that’s a-okay. Maybe it isn’t what you need, or at least not at this point in your life. I definitely thought twice about sharing the fact that I quit the Whole 30 when I was only a few days away from completing the full 30 days. But then I thought to myself, “Why? Why wouldn’t I share this?” Other people have gone through the same or similar thing I did. This diet is freaking hard, especially in this day and age where food is abundant and we are constantly tempted (even if it is just “healthy” food). But I had/have no feelings of guilt for stopping. I mean, this “diet” is not a lifestyle and I never planned to follow it permanently. And although I don’t share every aspect of my life and not everything I share is taking place “in the moment” I do try to be completely honest and real with you guys. I’m not trying to hide anything. I just love sharing food and recipes and getting creative in the kitchen. This blog and my Instagram are my outlet and I appreciate every single person that follows along, comments, tries a recipe or sends me a personal message – they truly make my day! So I owe it to all of you to be honest (not to be confused with over sharing) and genuine. This is me! And I hope you stay along for the ride 🙂