Tim and I did the Whole30 program for the month of January. I didn’t really intend to blog about it, but I think it’s worth reporting how it went. Plus, not talking about it on here started to feel like I was trying to keep it a secret or something. So I’m spilling the beans about our January “diet.” 😉
Let me give you the quick run down of what the Whole30 is in case you aren’t familiar. It’s a diet program that involves cutting out a lot of different foods for 30 days. Direct from the program guidelines: “Cut out all of the psychologically unhealthy, hormone unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days.”
These are the foods you cannot eat while doing the Whole30:
- No sugar of any kind. (including natural sugars like maple syrup and no artificial sweeteners of any kind.)
- No alcohol.
- No grains. Nada. No wheat, rice, barley, oats, etc.
- No legumes. No beans of any kind or peanuts/peanut butter. This includes soy in all forms.
- No dairy. The only exception is the allowance of ghee or clarified butter.
- No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites.
Two additional rules were to not create baked goods or treats with approved ingredients (Things like these 2-ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes and these energy balls would not be allowed.) and don’t step on the scale or take body measurements during the program.
You are encouraged to eat a lot of vegetables, some fruit, meat, eggs, seafood, nuts, and seeds. It’s very Paleo-like, but it a little more strict.
I got a lot of “why are you doing this when you already eat healthy” type responses when I told people I was doing the Whole30. I decided to do the Whole30 for a few reasons.
First, from Thanksgiving through the holidays wasn’t the best time for me. There was a lot going on and just didn’t eat as well as I normally do. I ate more sugar, dairy, and refined carbs than usual and it made me feel less than stellar. I needed a reset. The Whole30 does just that. It gives your body a rest and a chance to recover.
Also, I did it for my husband. He eats what I make him for dinner, but the rest of the day he’s not always the healthiest eater. I wanted Tim to see how certain foods might affect how he feels. I challenged him to do it with me and was so happy when he agreed.
Before I tell you what I liked and didn’t like about the Whole30, I have to give a disclaimer. I didn’t follow it 100%. In the book that outlines the program, It Starts with Food, it says that if you have slip up, you have to start the 30 days over. I didn’t do that.
I had red wine. I mean, I had a girls’ dinner, how was I supposed to not have wine?! Then I had book club and had wine again. And then one night Tim and I wanted some wine. Whoops. Darn wine.
I also had some soy yogurt, agave nectar, and black beans.
For some people, following the program 100% is important. I didn’t feel like it was necessary for me. It still had its intended results for me and Tim, despite our rule-breaking ways.
What I Didn’t Like about the Whole30
I’ll start with the bad and then talk about the good things. My main complaint about the Whole30 is similar to why I don’t love the Paleo diet. It relies too much on animal protein. I ate animal protein with every meal. I never, ever do that. Normally I eat vegan or vegetarian for breakfast, lunch, and snacks (most days anyway) and then eat animal proteins with dinner.
Having so much animal protein was a big change for me and I didn’t love it. Also, it was much more expensive. Quality animal protein isn’t cheap!
The other thing about the Whole30 I didn’t love was the aspect of rules. I don’t like feeling restricted and like I CAN’T eat something. It’s the nature of the program, and I know it serves its purpose, but I hated the feeling of restriction.
What I Did Like about the Whole30
Doing the Whole30 was a great reminder of how good I feel when I don’t eat sugar, dairy, and gluten. My wrists and fingers, which normally get stiff and painful, were pain-free all month. Mentally, I know I should keep those inflammatory foods out of my diet, but I needed that physical reminder.
For Tim, I think this was the best thing he could have done for himself. He lost 15 pounds. He has a new interest in foods and how they affect us that wasn’t there before. He is actually continuing his dietary changes and is now reading and implementing Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Body. He’s never been this interested in his health, and I am so happy to see it.
Who Should do the Whole30?
I think anyone who feels like they need a kick in the pants to get back on track should do the Whole30. Anyone who has health issues that could possibly stem from what they are eating. (Think: unexplained pain, such as painful joints, stomach aches, headaches, skin problems) Cutting all of these foods out of your system for a period of time can be very telling. It’s only 30 days. What do you have to lose?
I am slowly adding back in the foods I didn’t eat in January and seeing how I feel. I know that I’ll be eating much less dairy, gluten, and sugar because those foods have proven to be a problem for my joints.
Overall, I’m happy we did the Whole30 and I think it’s worth looking into if you’re curious.
Tremaine Towne says
I have committed myself to follow a very strict diet plan in January. I just want to instantly reduce my weight no matter what methodology is being proposed for me. I have also red light therapy research in order to know the cons and pros of this methodology. Now I think that I should follow the Whole30 diet plan as well as Red light therapy in order to avail maximum benefits.
I am in the middle of my whole 30! I decided to do it because i have rosacea and my skin has look horrible for 6-8 months. I am certain its diet related and just decided it was time to figure out what is causing the flare ups! I love that my fingers dont feel fat 🙂 my skin looks better than it has in months and im only10 days in. To the commenter above..you do habe to plan and if you can food prep on the weekend it helps tremendously. The first week kind of stinks…your tired a little lethargic but you will quickly turn that corner and have lots of energy! Just eat enough!
That’s so great that it’s helping your skin!!
I didn’t find the diet difficult at all. Missed my wine but lost 8 lbs. Its a good reset.
How did you juggle cooking for you and Tim and the kids for 30 days? I think that is one of the main reasons I haven’t done it. Working full time outside of home + long commute, I just can’t see myself making 2 meals. Or making brown rice or whatever is restricted and me not eating it lol. I have a neuroma in my right foot and think a program like this would benefit me but am hesitant to take on too much, be overwhelmed and then not complete it.
It really wasn’t that bad. If I was planning a pasta dinner, I’d do pasta for them and just do a vegetable noodle for us and everything else would be the same. Or when we had tacos, Tim and I used lettuce for our shells and the kids used regular shells. I tried to do things that would be easy to make a simple sub and not a whole separate meal for the kids. The hardest for me was when I would add cheese to the kids’ food and not ours because I love cheese so much! Getting past that psychology is part of the power of the program. By the end the cravings are gone.
I think if you plan well you can do it! It’s definitely worth it if you’re having health issues that you’d like to try to heal. Please keep me updated if you try it–I’d love to hear how it goes!
Have been wanting to do a whole30 and finally feel ready to commit. Any foods/recipes that were key to helping you stick with the program. Could you give an idea of what you ate in a day? Thanks
This was my typical day:
Breakfast: Sweet potatoes and onions with eggs. Sometimes added kale or spinach.
Lunch: Huge salad loaded with vegetables, seeds/nuts, and usually chicken. Sometimes beef or turkey, depending on what was leftover. Usually just used olive oil and vinegar and/or lemon juice for the dressing.
Dinner: Some sort of meat with roasted vegetables. Sometimes we did vegetable “noodles” with the spiralizer. We did tacos with lettuce cups for the shells a few times.
Snacks: Raw vegetables dipped in guacamole, nuts (mostly pistachios, almonds, and cashews), and sometimes fruit.
Some days I got really sick of eggs for breakfast and had a smoothie instead. The program recommends only 2 servings of fruit a day, but I ate more than that. I hope this helps some!
Thank you, Mondays the day!