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.
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.