A good friend of mine did the Whole30 program with her husband at the beginning of the year. I was hardly familiar with Whole30, but I started learning a lot about the program through our conversations. Most of the time, my internal thought process was – I could never ever do this program for 30 days! But…never say never. Months later, we had this brilliant idea to do it together, along with our spouses. It was 30 days of meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cooking, and cooking some more. There were so many days when I thought – this isn’t doing anything for my body, I just want to quit! Yes, I saw some great improvements along the way, but was it worth all of the time and energy it took? I was not completely sold until day 32, when I put cream back in my coffee, fulfilled my sweet tooth, and added that carbohydrate back into my meals. The night and day difference to my body suddenly became so recognizable.
What Is Whole30?
If you aren’t familiar with Whole30, it is a 30-day program where you eliminate sugar, grains, soy, dairy, legumes, and alcohol.
The first few days, I actually thought Whole30 was pretty easy. I consider myself a pretty clean eater/cook so I had bought my groceries and made a great meal plan. This is a breeze, I thought (ha ha)!! And then the fourth day came. My kitchen was a mess, all the time. My dish towel was constantly wet from doing dishes, and I was going to the grocery store almost every day. I had to make my husband’s lunches (which is my least favorite thing), and the mental battle and growling stomach had kicked in full force!
However, half way through week 2, something crazy happened. The sugar cravings lessened, I learned to just double a meal for my husband’s lunches, I hardly ever felt hungry, my skin had completely cleared up (this actually happened on day 5), and I never felt bloated. As hard as it was to cook all the time and go to the grocery store with 2 kids who think the grocery store is a jungle gym, I was surprised how much my body had adapted.
On the very last day of the program, the four of us went out for a celebratory dinner. We talked about how hard the program was, how helpful it was to do it together, and how we would probably never do it again! On day 31, the day after the program was over, I still felt pretty good. But then day 32 came, and I told my husband I just wanted to do Whole30 again!
I didn’t really know what to expect from these 30 days. When someone would ask why I was doing the program, my response was, “I just feel like I need to reset my body.” After the program, I sat down and wrote down my takeaways from this experience. I was shocked to visually see how much of an affect 30 days of clean eating had on my body.
What I WAS expecting that DIDN’T happen:
- ENERGY – I did not gain massive amounts of energy – researching recipes, meal planning, and cooking was exhausting
- MOM BRAIN – It didn’t cure my foggy brain. Since having kids, I feel like pregnancy brain has never gone away. Sleep would probably cure this though
What I WASN’T expecting that DID happen:
- SKIN: My skin cleared up in the first 5 days. My complexion is a constant struggle for me, and I have spent so much money on different makeups, cleansers and supplements. So 5 days ya’ll!!! My skin was completely clear. This seriously felt like the heavens had opened up for me!
- HAIR: My hair felt the healthiest it has felt since before having Graham. We all know pregnancy can change your hair a lot. My first pregnancy didn’t affect my hair too much. But my second pregnancy is a whole different story. My hair has been so hard to manage. I (no joke) got so many compliments on how nice my hair looked during these 30 days, and I could feel such a huge difference with it.
- GOOD FOOD: The recipes I made were REALLY good. I made a chicken recipe stuffed with guacamole and wrapped in bacon that is now my husband’s favorite meal. And my kids actually really liked most of the things I made. A lot of the recipes have now become staples that I continue to make. (Check out my free Whole30 recipe eBook for all of these)!
- CANKER SORES: I get a lot of canker sores. The summers are the worst because of all the fresh produce. If I eat tomatoes or strawberries, I am almost guaranteed a canker sore. On Whole30, I ate strawberries and tomatoes almost every single day, and did not get 1 canker sore! I am still working on figuring out why this happened. If any of you may have some insight on this, I’d love to hear it!
- EDUCATIONAL: I learned SO much about ingredients in food. I had never used things like ghee before…what was I supposed to do with it? But it was amazing how quickly I caught on to healthier ingredient options.
- TRIGGER FOODS: A huge thing I took away from the Whole30 experience was that there are definitely foods that trigger negative responses in my body. Literally 2 days after ending Whole30 (day 32), my skin started breaking out again. I have found dairy to be a huge trigger for me. I drink a lot of coffee every day, and use a lot of cream. My skin doesn’t like this. I’ve learned to “love” black coffee, and it’s amazing how just this one change has made a big difference with my skin.
- THE CRAVINGS: For your body, the first week is the hardest. We craved everything for the first week, and were hungry…a lot. But by week 2, our bodies adapted so much, it was actually pretty amazing (especially for my – lover of food – husband).
- COST: Everyone will be different in this area, but for us, I felt like it was so expensive (probably with all of the trips to the grocery store). BUT – the crazy researcher that I am, tallied up our eating out/grocery totals for April (no Whole 30) vs. May (Whole 30). Here’s the breakdown…
|April (No Whole30)||May (Whole30)|
|Savings ON Whole30 = $114|
We actually SAVED $114 in May (Whole30 month) mainly because we didn’t eat out and buy spontaneous food that we were craving at the grocery store. I was really surprised (and happy) with these findings!
- LIFESTYLE CHANGE: It has completely changed my way of thinking, buying, and cooking food. It is amazing how different your body feels in such a short time of eating so clean. It’s become a lifestyle I want to keep and maintain as much as possible for me and my family. (Obviously though I still like and eat chocolate…and pizza…and cheese sometimes, ha!)
- SETTING AN EXAMPLE FOR YOUR KIDS: It’s a really great teaching experience for your kids. No, NOT as a diet!!! But teaching them the importance of healthy eating and how it affects your body. Our daughter asked us so many questions about this entire experience which actually created some really great dialogue. We had both of our kids eat what we did (plus some cookies and frozen yogurt here and there) but they did great!
- ACCOUNTABILITY: It was so helpful to do this program with others! If you can, try to do Whole30 with at least one other person. It is really great to do it as a couple if you’re married (and made cooking a lot easier).
Will I do it again?
While I don’t have any plans to do an entire 30 days again, I will definitely do (and have done) a few days here and there. We recently returned from vacation and needed a major detox. My husband and I decided to do 4 days of the program and it was enough for us to reset our bodies, get back on track and feel great!
I recently read a great article by the co-founder of Whole30, Dallis Hartwig. The article is titled, “Why Dallas No Longer Needs The Whole30.” If you don’t have time to read the full article, the premise is that he has found what his trigger foods are that he needs to stay away from and he stays away from those foods. He also knows the foods/ingredients that do not take him off course much that he can indulge in ever so often. This was so helpful for me. After you do the program, you don’t have to always be drastic and do another 30 days, but you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. What foods/ingredients trigger negative responses in your body and create healthy eating habits with this information in mind.
You can’t go into these 30 days without planning. It is imperative to take time to sit down and make a grocery list and meal plan. Several people have asked me what tools and products I used for the program. Below are some really great resources and products that I found to be very helpful. Obviously there are so many resources out there, but I am only suggesting these below because I have actually used them and liked them, a lot! My husband will tell you he would not have survived without Larabars and Chomp beef jerky!!
(the book is a GREAT resource for explaining the program, walking you through what your body will probably feel like every day, delicious recipes, and Whole30 approved food resources)
Whole30 Approved Salad Dressings and Condiments
(check your local grocery store for some of the salad dressings ie. Whole foods, Publix, Harris Teeter to name a few)
Whole30 Approved Pantry
Whole30 Approved Snacks
Whole30 Approved Beverages
Newbarn Unsweetened Almond Milk