My mom and I finished the Whole30 on Monday. 30 days of no grains, legumes, alcohol, dairy or added sugar. The restrictions, while not sustainable for a long period, weren’t impossible to accommodate. Like it says in “It Starts With Food,” giving birth is hard, fighting cancer is hard, not having creamer in your coffee for 30 days is NOT hard.
Although it wasn’t a big change from my normal diet, I never once felt deprived. As you’ve seen in my recaps, we ate very fresh, well-balanced meals and experimented with new foods in the kitchen. Forewarning: I have a lot to say. To help, I’m going to break up this final recap into sections with bullet points. Because, everyone likes bullet points. I also had my mom chime in, too. Because, mom’s are always right.
What I Liked
-The focus on whole foods. Plain and simple, that is the most important feature of this program. I don’t think health is a one-approach-fits-all, but if I had to advocate for any “diet,” whole foods would be it. (See the next section for my thoughts on grains, dairy and legumes)
-No calorie counting or weighing yourself. Even though Whole30 seems “all the rage” now, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s not a quick weight-loss solution, if that’s what you’re looking for. You might lose weight during the 30 days but I can imagine that’s if you ate many processed foods to start. Neither my mom or I lost any weight.
-The book. If you have a desire to do Whole30, read the book. It explains everything you wanted to know (and if your answer isn’t there, check out the website forums). While I personally don’t agree with everything they discuss, I appreciated learning the science behind the program.
-Having a support team. I suppose I could have done this on my own, but doing it with my mom made it 10x easier. Plus, hello, she’s an awesome cook.
What I Disliked
-Cooking all.the.time. It wasn’t bad at first, but eventually meal prepping got old. A big pan of roasted vegetables and potatoes would last one day…two if we were lucky. Whenever I walk into the kitchen I have a natural reflex to immediately pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. I’m not sure if that will change too much (we do like our vegetables) but I can foresee it becoming less of a dire need every day.
-The cost. I don’t know how much money we spent on food and I don’t want to know. Also, my dad is reading this and he definitely doesn’t want to know. Let’s just say I should have bought stock in Whole Foods years ago…
-Hearing people bash the program. I understand both sides of this point. Even though I had great success with the program, hearing people (indirectly) say “I’m so crazy for doing it” and “it’s not necessary for health” made ME question its effectiveness, even though I could feel the effects first hand. The other side is that Whole30 really is not for everyone, as ostracizing as that sounds. We all have strong opinions on our diets so I’m learning to take other people’s comments with a grain of salt.
Tips for Success
-Read the book.
-Meal prep. Make things in double or triple portions to prevent cooking almost every day, like I did.
-Don’t treat the program as a big deal and it won’t feel like a big deal. I unnecessarily said the word(s) “Whole30” a million times, even though the dietary changes weren’t incredibly significant for me. Once I let go of the label, it was easier to go along with daily life.
-Don’t skimp on fats and carbs. You’ll learn that without both your energy levels will dip.
-Do it for the right reasons. You have to do what is best for you, regardless of what so-and-so blogger or friend is doing. That could mean starting the program next month or it could mean never starting it.
Emily’s Final Thoughts
-I’m not 100% convinced Whole30 was THE main reason I’m feeling so great stomach-wise. There are just too many variables to give it all the credit. A few notable examples: I started taking a digestive enzyme (mentioned in this post), I’m stress-free (compared to last semester) and I’m in a comfortable, relaxed environment. I still believe a lot of good can come from following the protocols, but I’m not sure which aspect of my lifestyle this year has had the most impact. But all that matters is I’m pain-free.
-I don’t think grains, dairy and legumes are inherently bad. I do believe some people process them differently (I’ve never been good with beans or too much dairy), but labelling an entire group of food as “bad” seems dramatic.
–I will never discredit someone’s way of eating as long as they are happy and healthy, mentally and physically. Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, no-label, paleo, whatever. I found pain relief on program that many people don’t believe in, so I will never judge those who are trying to make a change for the better.
Kathy’s (my mom) Final Thoughts
-I learned that there are two main keys to success: 1) Not eating the “banned” food, but also 2) eating enough of the right foods. I thought I was doing so well abstaining from certain foods, but I was low on energy because I wasn’t getting in the vegetables and carbs early enough in the day. Once I made the change and added greens and potatoes to breakfast, I saw my energy increase.
-For starters, I’ll be sharing more recipes because I can finally have treats, as well as certain ingredients that were banned (ex: honey).
-I won’t be taking photos of almost every meal. That got old FAST.
-I will probably eat very similar to how I did pre-Whole30 (always GF and paleo-ish). I will base it off how my stomach feels during the reintroduction period…so far so good.
Thanks for sticking around, for both this long post and my 30 day challenge. Let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to elaborate more (if that’s possible) on my experience.