Guys, I did a thing… I did Whole30 and I didn’t tell anyone about it. I kept it my little secret. You might be wondering why I would keep something like this a secret when I’m very open and share almost everything online with all of you. I kept this to myself for many reasons, one major one was I wanted a goal that was purely for myself, one that I could focus on that was all about me. Sometimes it’s just a little easier that way. I also was finding myself eating lots and lots and lots of sugar with no regrets over the holiday season and I needed a short-term goal and style of eating that limited sugar intake. It can be hard to break a sugar habit and I’ve heard so many great things about how a round of Whole30 can kill your sugar dragon and I was so down to try anything at this point.
I also found myself creeping up on the scale and because I’m a big believer in intuitive eating, I still wanted to follow an eating plan where I didn’t have to weigh or measure food but I knew I could eat certain things and I could just enjoy those amazing delicious options without tracking or measuring. I also had no clue what I was doing because this was my first round ever of Whole30 and I didn’t want to recommend something to you all without trying it myself first. And no this isn’t sponsored in any way shape or form, this is just something I personally wanted to try and wanted to share my experience with all of you! I think it’s important to continue always trying new ways of eating and especially important to always be learning about our bodies and how they function and work when eating certain foods and the difference we feel if we do eliminate inflammatory foods!
What is WHOLE30?
If you’re reading this and wondering what the heck Whole30 even is, then read on. Because even I knew very little about the program before considering it as an option to try. Here is what the Whole30 website says about their program…
Whole30® is designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.
So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long-term health.
Whole30 is an elimination diet and yes, I did eliminate items (gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and legumes) to follow the rules but I never once felt restricted or unhappy during this process. I truly enjoyed myself. I was even able to eat out a few times as well and stay compliant on Whole30.
After surviving Whole30, not only can I say that I LOVED the program, but I can share all the details of what I learned (so so much) about my body and my eating patterns, but also I’ll be sharing some of my favorite meals I ate while on Whole30. Even though you cut out many food groups, there is still so many amazing options and things to eat! It was a really great challenge for me and I learned more than I ever thought I would and also had the added benefit of weight loss, which never hurts!
Check these links out if you’re curious about starting Whole30. The rules can be found here, and some amazing resources and downloads can be found here, and find a list of Whole30 approved products here.
My biggest takeaways from Whole30
I finally broke up with the S C A L E.
I finally was able to break my horrific relationship with my scale. That’s right, before doing Whole30 I was weighing myself three times a day, purely out of habit. Jumping on the scale had no real emotional effect on my mental state, it was just a horrible habit I created years ago and had never taken the time to try to break it. I often used to think I needed to see that number on the scale every day just to know that I wasn’t going “off the wagon” or hadn’t gained so much weight that I wasn’t able to come back from it. It’s an extremely scary thing hiding your scale when you’re addicted to weighing yourself and I won’t lie, it was hard and I constantly thought + wondered how much I weighed the first couple of days of Whole30 but slowly those thoughts started to drift away and by the time the 31st day arrived and it was suggested to get back on the scale to see my results, I was actually nervous to pull it back out. But I did. The number I saw when I weighed in after 30 days was almost 9.5 pounds lower then what I saw 30 days earlier. I took note of it and then put my scale back away! I couldn’t believe that I was able to go 30 days without weighing myself and I actually lost weight! You don’t’ need a scale to tell you about your weight every day, I’m going to be sticking to a monthly weigh-in from now on! And the best part, I won’t stub my toes anymore in the morning on my way to the bathroom! See ya later scale!
I cut out my S U G A R cravings
After spending weeks during the holiday season eating WAY too much sugar, I knew I needed to get a handle on my sugar intake + cravings before it took over me. It was like I couldn’t stop myself from craving sugar after every single meal and in between meals as well because sugar is more addicting than drugs. It’s really hard once you eat a lot of sugar to cut it out but once you do, you find that your cravings begin to slowly disappear and you can go back to not constantly thinking about chocolate and donuts and focus on way more important things! Sugar can be found in SO many food items that you would never suspect and it’s really crazy when you’re forced to pay attention to labels more and really read what is in your food. The only sugar you eat on Whole30 is sugar from fruit/dates, which is all completely natural and easier for your body to digest.
I said bye, bye, bye to stomach B L O A T
Before starting Whole30 I was feeling so bloated almost every single day and just plain uncomfortable in my own body. After removing gluten, soy, sugar, and dairy from my daily diet my bloat has disappeared. I no longer go to bed feeling uncomfortable or waking up still feeling and looking bloated from my dinner. I think so many people feel like it’s their normal to always be bloated and that it’s just something they have to deal with. But Whole30 taught me that being bloated isn’t normal and it can be dealt with in a healthy normal way by eating food that is less inflammatory and easier to digest.
I became more in T U N E with my body
When the scale was removed out of my life I was able to start focusing in on how my body was actually feeling and looking each day instead or using a number to tell me what was happening in my body. When you go through a process like Whole30, you begin to recognize every little change happening in your body. I could feel myself deflating almost, I could recognize when I was hungry and full, and I was able to start realizing when I needed water vs when I needed to eat actual food. Becoming more in tune with your body is such a treat, I highly recommend trying it. It’s amazing what our bodies are capable of doing and if we can align our minds and bodies it’s truly magical.
Moved out of my C O M F O R T zone
Yup, I’ve actually never in my life cut dairy and gluten out at the same damn time, and I was scared. I’m not going to lie to you, I love cheese and I love gluten, I mean if you try to say you don’t then I’m sorry I’m just not going to believe you. So I was terrified to remove those items from my diet for even a short period of time. But guess what?! I did it and I’m so happy I did. I didn’t even really miss dairy or gluten at all during this process, which even I thought was nuts.
Fell in L O V E with trying new R E C I P E S
One thing about Whole30 that most people will tell you is that you basically have to MEAL PREP. When I started working from home about two years ago, I stopped meal prepping because I felt like I didn’t need to do. But with Whole30 I did do some meal prep almost every single week and each week I searched Pinterest for new recipes to try and it was so exciting to find new recipes and to be excited about healthy food again. I definitely was in a healthy food rut before embarking on this Whole30 journey so it was amazing to find new favorite recipes to add to my weekly meals.
Learned how to stop mindlessly S N A C K I N G
While on Whole30 they want you to begin to realize eating patterns you have that you may not have realized before. I realized very quickly that I used to snack a lot. I mean I’ve always loved snacking, I would prefer it over a meal most days for lunch, there is something so satisfying about having a little bit of everything all at once. But when I removed the snacks from my daily life I began to realize just how often I would get the urge to want to snack. Whenever I felt bored when I was working, whenever I got the after dinner hungries around 9PM every night, and on the weekends I would want to snack all the time. It was a struggle at first to not get to grab for a snack when I was hungry when cooking dinner and instead just drinking water until my delicious dinner was ready. Whole30 definitely opened my eyes to just how often I was mindlessly snacking and how important it was for me to cut that bad habit out! Now I’m able to realize if I want to snack it might actually mean I need to sit down and eat a real meal or go for a walk (if it’s just boredom)!
Discovered a sensitivity to D A I R Y
When I did the reintroduction phase of Whole30 (you reintroduction one item at a time that you removed from your diet, it took about 12 days total post Whole30) I did discover I have a small sensitivity to dairy so I’m not sure if I’ll be putting dairy back into my everyday diet. I’ll mostly stick to having dairy on special occasions or if I’m eating out and want it. I still want to try a few different types of dairy to see if I react the same to all dairy or just certain types.
And I lost over N I N E pounds + F I V E inches (+ an extra 4 pounds during reintroduction, for a grand total of 13 pounds!)
This is the last thing on my list because yes, weight loss was an added extra magical bonus to my Whole30 results but I learned so so much about myself that was way more important and meaningful than losing weight! I was actually shocked I lost that much weight but at the same time like I said before the holidays really put me high up on the scale! So as nice as it is to see a lower number on the scale I would have been just as stoked if the scale didn’t budge because of how much I learned through this process! Here is a little before and after!
What I ate on Whole30
Now if all these amazing lessons above weren’t enough I’m also sharing some of my favorite Whole30 compliant meals below! The meals that are underlined in the section that reads, “ON THE MENU” are linked to the recipes I used and the ones that aren’t linked are meals I either made up or they just don’t need a recipe! Either way, everything below was super delicious, nutritious, and I will continue incorporating these meals into my life from now on. If you see something that looks delicious without a recipe linked let me know and I’ll work on a recipe post for you babes with more of my favorite!
A few of my other must haves for a successful Whole30
You’re also going to want to check out the below for more of my favs that aren’t pictured! They are tried and tested and approved of and were major game changers for me!
This dairy-free ranch that people in the Whole30 world refer to as “Dump Ranch” that actually tastes just like buttermilk ranch — don’t do what I did the first time I tried to make and try to cut the olive oil in half, it won’t work and you will be sad. Follow the directions!
This sweet potato breakfast casserole was the first one I made, it was more time consuming than the one above but it’s equally delicious!
Crispy chicken thighs and smashed crispy potatoes were also very very delish. My friend from the DC area taught me how to make crispy chicken thighs, check out her post here. And make sure to drizzle the dairy free ranch on the potatoes and thank me later!
I finished Whole30, now what?
After the 30 days, I did a 12-day reintroduction plan that I followed from the Whole30 website, that can be found here. And now my plan moving forward is to eat mostly paleo-ish, still with intuition and with mindfulness. But if I have a craving or want a healthy treat I will allow myself to indulge to keep a healthy balance in my lifestyle. Whole30 was a way for me to reset my sugar cravings and for me to get out of my snacking habit as well as a way to help me break my addiction to weighing myself! It’s not meant to be on forever, it’s a great tool to keep in my toolbox and an amazing way to eat to reset your system with real food.
Okay, phew, that was a lot! If you made it all the way down here, THANK YOU for reading! Have you ever tried Whole30?! What did you think of it? I would love it if you would share some of your favorite Whole30 and/or Paleo-approved recipes below!