This post is about the Whole30 program. I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist. This is simply my experience. All opinions are my own – I was not compensated by any Whole30 affiliate. As always, before you start any new diet or exercise program, consult with your doctor. To read about our impromptu Sisterhood Whole30 challenge, scroll to the bottom of the post.
Today is my Friday the 13th. Ironic much? That is to say, today is my Day 13 of doing the Whole30. What is the Whole30? Well, I feel like there are two ways it could be explained:
1) It is a food program created by Satan himself that deprives you of any humanly indulgences, including bread, pasta, cheese, ice cream, wine (see, I told you it was evil), and nachos. It follows a strict set of rules that CANNOT be broken – if you slip-up or fail, you go straight to food hell. Ok, ok maybe not quite that intense. You have to follow the RULES for 30 days with no cheats – end of discussion.
2) It is a food elimination program created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig designed to reset your body and digestive system by eliminating foods commonly known to cause triggers that could manifest in the body in a variety of ways. For only 30 days, you eliminate legumes, grains of all kinds, dairy, alcohol, and added sugar. It has been used by individuals to determine foods that upset their system, those who have an addiction to sugar, those wanting a detox, and/or those who want to have a more positive relationship with food. It additionally is used by people for weight loss, although it is not described as a weight-loss program.
That sounds a little better, dontcha think? For the full set of rules (yes, they’re called rules), you can find them here: Whole30 Rules vs. Recommendations.
Why would I subject myself to this strict program ON PURPOSE?!
Long story short-er, I have suffered from digestive issues for a looooooooonnnngggg time. I have been to see the doctors. In undergraduate school, I was diagnosed with IBS as a *textbook case* (the doctor spent 5 minutes with me). I was given a prescription and sent on my way. A few years later, I was diagnosed with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Again, I was given a prescription to help alleviate my symptoms. A few years after that, I was diagnosed with slight hypothyroidism – very slight. The doctor wasn’t too concerned, but added another prescription to my collection. I have been tested for Celiac Disease, which came back negative. The kicker: None of the prescriptions really helped all that much. (I still think gluten might be the culprit, and have even recently read several studies linking gluten intolerance/sensitivity with thyroid issues)
Well after years of ups and downs (because there were periods of time that were better than others), I was having a particularly down time frame of a few months. I knew I wanted to try an elimination program, but wasn’t sure which one to go for – I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I immediately discounted the Whole30 at first. However, one morning I was sitting at my kitchen table and the thought of even trying to eat breakfast (or anything ever again) made me sick to my stomach (which already wasn’t feeling great). I was so tired of feeling this way all of the time. So I made an impromptu decision to start the Whole30 the next day. I figured I could do anything for 30 days. I went to the store for a few things, whipped up a crock pot spaghetti sauce recipe, browned some turkey meatballs and tossed them on in. I was set for my first day.
What I like about the program is that it’s centered on real food. There are no pills, powders, supplements, ‘foods’ with 30 ingredients, etc. It’s about eating what you can pronounce and recognize. It’s about eating nutrient-dense food. It’s about recognizing ingredients and what is actually in the foods we eat every day. A meal template is even provided as a suggestion. There is no calorie counting, no starving yourself, no weighing in (seriously, one of the rules is that you can’t step on the scale for the duration of the program), and no excuses. Essentially, the bottom line is you’re an adult and you can choose whether you’re worth it to follow the rules and stick it out, or not. Just like with all things, the program may not be for everybody.
I can’t say I really appreciated the first 5-ish days. I honestly felt like a big pile of dog poo: groggy and foggy and zapped of energy – apparently this is how it feels when your body detoxes. (See the What to Expect Whole30 Timeline). But y’all, I have to say, it’s been 13 days and I haven’t experienced ANY of my previous symptoms. Not.A.Single.One. It’s kind of surreal to think that this is the way that normal people feel all the time after eating. It’s a little liberating. I feel wonderful!
Everybody does Whole30 for different reasons. My reasons are not your reasons and vice versa. Many people report healthier skin and hair, weight loss, increased energy, decreased or eliminated cravings, and an overall healthier relationship with food. There are studies out there that will say this program doesn’t work, and there will be reports out there that say it does. Just like with every diet, eating program, supplement, or other health-centered program, there will always be the ‘fors’ and the ‘againsts.’
Interested in trying a Whole30?
The Sisterhood has put together an impromptu Whole30 challenge beginning June 1! We have set up a closed Facebook group (only members will see what you post) as a support center for people to ask questions, post recipes, lament over the foods they miss, etc. There are already people posting whole week-long meal plans with grocery lists! We also have a Pinterest Board dedicated specifically to Whole30 recipes.
There are a TON of great resources out there to get you familiar with the program and started – there are even options for persons looking for an Anti-inflammatory Whole30, a vegetarian Whole30, and a FODMAP Whole30.
The program is detailed in the books It Starts With Food and Whole30 – while I found these very helpful, detailed resources, they’re not necessary for the program (if you’re going to go with one over the other, go with It Starts With Food). You can find all the information online in various places on the Whole30 website.
So, if you’re up for it, take the leap with us! Many people take before and after photos – I am not one of those people, but feel free to do so and post it on Facebook! Keeping a food journal can also be helpful during this process. It may be challenging, but like the Whole30 creators put it:
It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
June Monthly Fitness Calendar
Check out our June 30-Day Lunge Challenge and build some muscle and strength while you’re cleaning up your diet.
CLICK HERE for more details!