Guys. I actually did something for 30 days straight. And not only that, but something that involved eliminating all the sugar (among other delicious things) in my life. And you want to hear what’s even crazier than all of that? I actually liked it. Words I never thought I would ever say!
I had heard about Whole3o through various people and decided to look into it to see what all the hype was about. I had been thinking I needed to do something to kick start some healthy eating, but I’d never tried any eating plan, diet, or lifestyle change like this before so I was pretty skeptical. I’ll admit that I’m usually a pretty judgey person when it comes to people that say they “can’t eat (insert delicious thing here)”. I mean come on, pizza in any other form than gluten, dairy, sodium filled goodness is not even pizza.
But as the saying goes, “don’t be a super judgemental person when you haven’t even tried it. And even if you have tried it you still shouldn’t judge. So stop being a jerk”. Or something like that ;)
Okay, now on to my Whole30 experience!
So I need to start by saying that technically I didn’t complete it 100% because I had almond milk in my coffee and it has carrageenan in it. But I couldn’t find a compliant almond milk, and coconut milk in it was disgusting. I also went out for dinner once and had fish tacos which had some sort of creamy sauce on it that definitely wouldn’t have been allowed, but I didn’t eat the taco part so I thought it was a good compromise.
I also didn’t do organic veggies, grass fed meats, etc. There’s no way I could afford that and honestly I’m not at a place yet where that’s important to me. Baby steps.
Now that that’s out of the way I thought I would tell this by answering the questions that I had before I started this:
Is it hard?
Yes. And then kind of. And then not at all.
I did all the reading on their website (I didn’t read their recommended book, but I felt I got all the info I needed from them online), armed myself with my grocery list and the list of non-compliant sneaky ingredients to avoid, and headed out to the store. After an absurdly long shopping trip of reading labels and putting things back I got home with a weird mixture of items. Which I then tried to make into meals (PS I
don’t didn’t cook).
It was at that point, Day 1, that I was ready to call it quits and move on with my life. But for some reason I stuck it out until Day 2, and instead of eating my usual oatmeal for breakfast I looked up recipes online to see what I could make with what I had. And that’s when I slowly started to discover that I could actually make things that tasted good with simple ingredients.
Week 1 I spent trying to figure out how much I needed to eat to last between meals without snacking. I also learned that if I spent more then 5 minutes making something it was probably worth it. Oh, and I finally caved to the fact that I’d have to go to the grocery store once a week. Fiiiine.
By week 2 I felt like I didn’t have to read as many labels and I could make it in and out of the grocery store in the same amount of time as before. Cooking became easier, I learned to appreciate leftovers (which I previously hated and almost always ended up throwing out), and felt like a superstar when Matt would like my healthy dinner better then the normal version I’d usually make.
I’ve read that week 3 gets difficult again because you start getting tired of it, but I never did. It was my birthday on my Day 24 and I had always planned that that was going to be a cheat day, but when it arrived I didn’t even want to cheat. What?! That is so not me. I stuck with it and was so happy I did! Also, my birthday meal was “nachos” (baked sweet potato chips topped with taco seasoned beef, guacamole, olives, tomatoes, and lettuce) and it was pretty great if I do say so myself.
In the last week I started to get some cravings for sweets, but I calmed that down with some fruit (which you’re not supposed to do, but I thought it was still better then cheating). I also discovered apple cider from a local grocery store that was sooo good and kicked all the after-dinner sugar cravings I had. And the only ingredient in it? Apples. Who would’ve thought :)
On the last day I was expecting to want to eat all the things! But again, that didn’t happen. When Day 30 rolled around it was just like any other day. I had sausage and eggs for breakfast and almond milk in my coffee. Although, I did feel kind of relieved to not have to think quite so much about what I could or couldn’t have, and to not dread going out to eat somewhere and wondering what I could order, but other than that it wasn’t any different.
The only thing that I would’ve changed is starting it a week earlier. I didn’t realize that they tell you how to reintroduce things back into your diet and we left for Cuba the day after I was done. I really wanted to see how bringing back sugar and gluten would affect me, but I think I have a pretty good understanding of it overall. Next time I do a Whole30 I will plan a bit more ahead.
Is it expensive?
Yes. Sort of.
I’m very budget conscience and I was always skeptical on how much eating healthier costs. When a $2 bag of pasta or rice lasts for 5-6 meals vs $2 of fresh vegetables lasting 1 meal it’s always been hard for me to justify.
But what I noticed most about this is that getting full from good foods, like veggies and meat, lasts longer and feels better than getting full of not so healthy foods.
And for the budget people like me out there I spent about $100 more on groceries during Whole 3o then I usually do in a month.
How can you possibly cut out all sugar, dairy, and gluten and still be able to make meals?
This was one of my biggest struggles at the start. I’ve never liked to cook, I don’t enjoy looking for and trying out new recipes, and I hate spending time in the kitchen. But I found a few key things that I really liked and were easy to make (hello sweet potatoes!) and then was able to change them up slightly for different meals. After I made a few meals that tasted great and I knew were 100% compliant I just felt so good about myself that I ended up enjoying it. So many shocking moments happened throughout these 30 days.
I also would just buy things that were on sale and then when I got home I would look up how to make it. I had never cooked a squash in my life, but one day little acorn squash were on sale for super cheap so I got some and discovered a super delicious, and easy, way to cook them. Win!
After 2 weeks of eating basically the same things over and over again I made up a list of 7 breakfasts, lunches, and supper options that had similar ingredients, but prepared different ways. This made it so much easier to figure out what to make every day and make sure I always had stuff on hand.
For breakfasts I ate a lot of sausage, eggs, avocado, skillets, and sometimes fruit. Also, this sweet potato hash was the best discovery.
Lunches were either leftovers or something with avocado, tuna, hard boiled eggs.
Supper was when I tried new things or made something that would have leftovers that could be made into other meals throughout the week. I made pulled pork one day and was able to use the leftovers for breakfasts skillets and lunches the rest of the week. Yay!
Is it worth it?
They say people do Whole30 for a lot of different reasons: losing weight, gaining energy, sleeping better, finding out how different foods affect them, clearer skin, and the list goes on.
I didn’t do it to solve any of those things, I just wanted to do it to see if I could.
Sleep/energy didn’t change for me throughout it, but I never had a problem with that before. I also didn’t experience the “crash” that many people say they have that first week.
My skin, which I’ve always had problems with, cleared up more then I thought it would which was awesome. I’m pretty sure that if I stuck to this for another month that it would get even better.
I lost 6lbs and my belly pouch that I could never seem to get rid of before so that was cool. I just dream about what would’ve happened if I actually exercised while doing this! ha!
Overall the biggest change for me is that I didn’t miss certain things nearly as much as I thought I would. It showed me that I don’t “need” a lot of foods that I would normally eat and that there are great substitutions for things that make me feel better all around.
I’m still in awe about how this changed an unbeliever like me into a label-reading, ingredient conscience person but I’m hoping it sticks and as I go back to “normal” food I keep a lot of the Whole30 rules with me.
Have you done a Whole30 or are you in the middle of it now? Let me know how yours went in the comments below!