The whole buzz of Whole30 has been going on for a while now… Several years, in fact. It seems to have taken the world by storm… But why? I have always been aware of Whole30… Yeah, it’s just another diet, another fad, another trend that probably doesn’t work, right? Well, actually, there’s a lot more to it than just that.
Why did I start Whole30?
I started researching Whole30 after many failed attempts of cutting out processed sugar in my diet and after I had felt like food was controlling me. For a year or so now, I can’t say that I’ve had the best relationship with food. I would eat “healthy” for a two days, struggling, and then I would reward myself by eating some animals crackers and Nutella. I mean, I worked out, so it all canceled out, right? HA, I wish.
I started the Whole30 because I wanted to not feel bloated after eating a meal, I wanted to feel energized all the time and I wanted to break the bad relationship with food that has been growing over time.
Another reason I decided to give it a go is because with all of the information we have at our fingertips, how do we know what is valid and reliable? What actually works? What does “healthy” actually mean? What does it mean to be a healthy eater? All of these questions were running through my head as I wanted to become healthier, but didn’t even know where to start.
Honestly, what I did is I looked up the most popular cookbook/lifestyle book on Amazon. Whole30 Cookbook came up with thousands of fantastic reviews. I started to do my own research and found nothing but great results- both mental and physical. From there, I headed to Barnes and Noble, picked up the book, “It Starts with Food,” and dove into that book to see what I was (thinking of) getting myself into.
What is “It Starts With Food”?
I started reading this book with an open mind, but I wanted to get something out of this book. This book is just what I needed. “It Starts with Food” is a book that gives the scientific terms (and the simplified version) of how food is processed in your body. It tells you everything from how artificial foods affect you to how your hormones can be out of whack due to what you eat.
This is honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read. It not only gives the scientific information, but it gives the sources and the articles that this information comes from. In the back of the book, each chapter has bunches of scholarly and peer reviewed sources that back up this book’s claims.
Another favorite feature of this book is the transparency. The authors of this book give client testimonies, success stories, metaphors, and stories to help the reader understand how food works. After reading this book, I was hooked. Actually, after the first chapter, I was already hooked and I knew that this diet/lifestyle was something that I wanted to pursue.
What is Whole30?
I’m not sure if I should call Whole30 a reset, a diet, or a lifestyle… Maybe it’s a mixture of all three. Whole30 is a program where you cut out all artificial and processed foods, and you eat all whole foods, hence the name. This means that you eat lots and lots of veggies and other yummy foods, but it also means that you cut out all processed sugar (honey and agave, too), all dairy, all grains, and all alcohol. The reasons that this program cuts out all of these things is because not only are they processed, but they can cause major problems in your body. These foods can affect your brain, your hormones and your intestines, which basically rule if you get sick or not.
The book, “It Starts with Food,” is way better at explaining Whole30 than me, so please read this book if you are even contemplating starting this program.
Now that you know what to cut out, you need to know a few more rules… This is a thirty day program. You can add more days to it and make it even Whole60 if you want, but you cannot do any less days than 30. This is meant to rid your body of toxins, to get your body in the best state that it can, and to fuel your body with foods that are truly good for you, the foods that won’t hurt you in the long-run.
Another catch… No cheating. This program emphasizes that you cannot cheat, no matter how badly you want to. This means no bite of pizza, no lick of ice cream and no snacking on chocolate. No. Cheating. Period.
If you cheat, you are basically starting over. No one wants to go through this program for more days than you have to because you had one lick of ice cream. That’s not fun.
Whole30 is definitely a challenge, and it is supposed to be hard, but the benefits **supposedly** outweigh the “pain.”
The main thing that I knew I was going to have trouble with was cutting out sugars. On this program, fruit is “optional,” but I’ve decided to limit my intake of fruit just simply because I want to kill my addiction to sugar. Aren’t we all addicted to sugar in some aspect? It’s so dang good!
In a recap, Whole30 is a 30 day program (with no cheating) that cuts out processed sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol.
Is this a weight loss program?
This is a common question of this program. From what I’ve gathered, no, this is not a weight loss program. What I have read says that naturally, because you are eating real foods, you naturally might shed a few pounds, but this is just your body ridding itself of the toxins.
The writers of this book and the creators of this program, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, say that the clients usually lose 5-15 pounds due to the nature of the program, but every person is different. A great thing to know is that there are nutritional requirements of every meal. These people want you to eat if you are hungry and they want you to get enough food and enough calories. No where in this program does it say to cut your calories or to starve yourself.
The minimum requirements for every meal are 1-2 palm-sized pieces of protein (this would equal a chicken breast or three eggs for me), one “thumb” sized amount of healthy fat (1/2 avocado, 2 Tb olive oil, etc.), and then fill the rest of your plate up with vegetables. You can always eat more, but never less than the requirements, according to the book.
The one weird thing about this program that has thrown me for a loop is that is emphasizes eating only three meals, with no snacking. I have always been a “grazer,” snacking a lot through out the day, so this has been strange for me. In your meals, you should be eating enough to carry you through to the next meal.
Just as this isn’t a weight loss program, the rules also say that you are not allowed to take measurements, progress photos, or step on the scale. This is from both a mental and physical standpoint. Our culture has become so reliant on the scale that we are terrified of certain numbers. This obviously isn’t healthy, so the program eliminates this to heal your mind and to not let a scale or mirror define you. It wants you to judge based on how you are feeling.
How did I prepare?
I prepared for Whole30 by first reading “It Starts with Food.” After I read that and got my foundational knowledge, I headed to the grocery store. I bought lots of vegetables. My favorites are broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, asparagus, onions, lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers. I’d say that these have been my staple items. For healthy fats, I’ve been buying a lot of avocados, I bought some great dressing called Tessamae’s Dressing, and I’ve used olive oil/coconut oil to cook my food in.
To mentally prepare, I just simply read the book and decided that I was going to do it. I think that I’m an extremist to a point. I’m a person who is either all in or all out.
How has it been going?
Honestly, it has been going really well! I haven’t noticed too many bad effects from this program thus far. Today marks my 9th day on the program… Only 21 more days left! I hear that days 10 and 11 are brutal, though. If you google a timeline of Whole30, there is a projected timeline of how you feel on each day. I can’t say that I’ve really followed this timeline to a T, but I’ve noticed some of the “symptoms.”
The hardest thing for me has been getting all of my nutritional requirements, mainly either protein or fat, at each meal and learning how to not snack so much. I love to snack, but I am slowly working on breaking this habit.
Really, so far, so good. I have no complaints (yet!). If y’all are wondering about physical appearance, no, I have not noticed any physical change in my body and I haven’t really started to reap any great and mystical benefits yet. I am hoping that soon that will happen, though!
Is it possible to eat too many vegetables?
You know, I am asking myself the same thing over here. Is it? I don’t know. I suppose it is possible to eat too many, but no one has told me to stop, so I’m going to keep on eating as many as I want…
What am I hoping to get out of it?
Through these thirty days, my next 21 days, I am hoping that my relationship with food is healed. I hope that I can notice what foods make me feel bad and I can notice a difference when I eat healthy, whole foods. Starting out, as I said, I wanted to mend that bad food relationship and I wanted to just do a “trial” to see how I could feel my best. I am hoping that my sleep is improved, my energy rockets, I have more focus, and I feel young and alive! I’m only 21, so there’s not a TON to work with, thank goodness. I’ve been blessed with my situation and I’m thankful that I don’t have any illnesses or diseases.
Have I had any weird side effects?
Fortunately, no! I have noticed that I have been tired through this first week, but I *think* that is normal… Please tell me it’s normal! I have also been struck with allergy season, so that could be adding to the symptom. I wouldn’t say any of my side effects to be “weird,” per say, but in the first couple of days, I did notice that I had a faint headache, which was predicted on the Whole30 timeline. Other than that, no weird side effects and no crazy dreams!
What is an example of a day of eating?
For breakfast, I have a go-to. I scrambled three eggs with coconut spray oil and then I put that on top of vegetables, about one cup or so, in a bowl. Then I scoop out half of an avocado, spoon some salsa on top, and put a dash of hot sauce to top it off. I’ve eaten this pretty much every day and I’m loving it. Yeah, it’s a weird combination, but it works and I love it.
Making it to lunch with no snacks, I **try** to eat a chicken breast, 1-2 cups of a vegetable, usually lettuce and broccoli, and then some sort of fat. I eat my lunches in the cafeteria, so it’s super hard to find good fats, so I’ll usually eat and then go back and eat some guacamole with carrots an hour or so later.
The afternoon is the hardest time for me. This is my prime snacking time. Once three o’clock hits, my mind is telling me that I am hungry, even if I’m not (working on it…). IF I truly am hungry (ask yourself if you could eat a chicken breast with steamed broccoli), then I eat some carrots with guacamole or peppers and guacamole.
Once dinner time rolls around, I eat leftovers from my fridge, which include a chicken breast, 1-2 cups of vegetables, and some avocado or that yummy dressing I mentioned earlier. After that, I call it quits for the night and I don’t eat anymore!
What about snacks?
On this program, you are encouraged to stray away from snacking, as I mentioned before. If you are really needing a snack though, try to make it a mini-meal. I do some fat content with a vegetable. I love carrots or peppers with guacamole.
What if I’m on the go?
This is a tricky one… I have noticed that if I am going to be on the go, I really need to plan out my meals and either bring something with me, or take my chances that the place I am going will have a meal that’s compliant with Whole30. For me, I would rather take a lunchbox with a meal rather than destroy all of the progress I’ve made. This is a personal choice, though. If you like nuts, I hear that there are some Whole30 approved nut bars, but you’d have to research those to see what’s acceptable. I personally am not a nut person, so this doesn’t apply to me.
How much water do I drink?
I have a reusable water bottle that I like to keep filled. This is a 32 oz water bottle and while my goal is to drink 4 of these, I typically make it through only 3. Therefore, my goal is about 1 gallon of water, but I am usually just shy of this. There aren’t any requirements according to the Whole30 program, but just drink lots of water!
It is hard to do as a college student?
Simple answer, yes.
Long answer, yes and no. If you have your own kitchen, this will be easier than you think. You just really have to plan and always have cooked food on hand. I cook about every 3 days in bulk so that I can have meals for the next couple of days. I have really liked doing this in college, though, and I think it’s totally do-able.
If you live in a dorm without a kitchen, it might be trickier to handle. I totally think that it is doable in a dorm, but I think that you would have to plan to the max! It’s hard knowing ingredients in pre-made food in the cafeteria, so that can be tricky… For a simple answer, yes, I think it is possible to do in a dorm, but it would be difficult to do.
In terms of the social pressure, I have just ignored it and done my own thing. When people mock or criticize, which they don’t, but let’s say they did, I would just say that I am trying to feel better physically and mentally. There ya go.
Yes, it can be kind of hard not going out at 11 PM to get donuts and Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits, but trust me, it’s worth it and you can find that motivation to keep on going. If I can do it, you can do it.
Biggest piece of advice?
Ha, I’m not really one to give advice as I am only starting week 2, but I would say that it is important to A, be mentally all in, and B, check your food labels. If you are buying anything from the store that might need an ingredient label, don’t check the nutritional information for sugar, because there might be some naturally, but instead look at the list of ingredients. If there is sugar listed on the ingredient list, it is a no go. For example, kombucha (my favorite brand is Synergy by the way), a drink that is encouraged on this program, naturally has sugar in it, but it doesn’t have it in the ingredients list.
Thank you so much for getting through this post (if you made it this far!) I hope y’all consider doing Whole30… I have a really good feeling about it and I think that everyone should at least read the book, “It Starts with Food.” Let me know your thoughts! If you have any questions, comment them below and I will get back to you! You are also free to email me with questions- you know where to find me!