When I started my blog a year ago I could have never anticipated the journey I have been on. My husband and I were starting our first round of P90x, he was the “team captain” of exercise, responsible for getting us out of bed at 5am each and every day and I was “team captain” of food, dedicated to making sure our food was never boring and always tasty and healthy. What I couldn’t have anticipated was the joy I would have in planning all of our meals and snacks and how much fun I had finding the best things for us to eat. That journey led me to Paleo and now my blog is completely dedicated to Paleo meal plans and recipes. I am completely convinced this is the right way for me and my family to eat; I have never felt better, my autoimmune issues are under control and my kids are eating more and different types of protein and vegetables all the time.
In August I attempted my first Whole 30. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Whole 30, it is a 30 day commitment to eat only real food. Real food does not include anything that has been processed, no sugar of any kind (this includes honey, agave, coconut nectar, fake sugars, etc), no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no potatoes and nothing with ingredients you can’t pronounce. The point of the Whole 30 is to give your body a chance to reset nutritionally, curb sugar cravings and change how you think about and interact with food. You have to get real with your food for 30 days, there are no crutches to fall back on and no quick packaged treats you can just throw in your bag as you walk out the door.
Now you may have noticed, in my first sentence I said attempted, I have to be honest – I failed at my first Whole 30. It was a Whole20 for me. I just wasn’t prepared and while my cheats weren’t monumental or total deep dives they were “cheats” none the less. But my 30 days was not a complete loss! I learned A LOT about myself, about food and how I think about food. Here is what I learned:
- Be prepared to reevaluate everything you are eating. The Whole30 guidelines are simple but when you start you will quickly realize just how many of the “good” things you have been eating are not part of the Whole30 process.
- Plan your meals and snacks and then plan for deviations from the plan. One of my first cheats occurred when we were out running errands and not going to be home in time for dinner. I ended up with a meal that was greatly modified to follow most of the Whole30 guidelines but still feel short. This was also the case for snacks. I planned on always having some cut veggies or fruit and protein with me but protein was tougher for me to have on hand when we were out and about and during my Whole30 I was trying to really watch my nut intake.
- When in doubt, assume there is sugar in everything that you don’t make yourself. After this challenge I look at all food labels differently. I am less concerned about calories and fat content and more concerned about the ingredients and how much/what kind of sugar are used.
- When I am stressed or tired I crave food that is sweet and salty. Instead I would combat this with a cup of Zhena’s Gypsy tea.
- When I am tired, I think I am hungry. This was a clear sign for me to just go to bed and get the rest I truly needed. Easier said than done sometimes.
- As I went through my sugar detox I found that I often relied on fruit as a substitute and there were days when I probably had more fruit than I should have. I do have a weakness for all the amazing fruit that is available during the summer…
Will I attempt another Whole 30? Without a doubt. Even with just the 20 days I stayed true I noticed benefits in my health, a reduction in some of my auto immune symptoms, lost a few pounds and gained a renewed focus on my commitment to the Paleo lifestyle. I also found some power over food in the Whole30 commitment, it was a lot easier for me to say no to alcohol or foods that were off plan and it gave me a chance to talk to people about what I was doing and why. Last week I ordered “It Starts with Food” and can’t wait to read it, after that I think I will be ready for another round of Whole30!
Have you tried or completed a Whole30? I’d love to know what you learned!