My Whole 30 Experience
I did it! I successfully completed Whole30 and now I'm finally, although a few weeks late, getting around to telling you guys about my experience and answering some questions I received. First thing's first, why did I decide to participate in Whole30 this past January? I've always eaten very clean (no added sugar, no processed foods and very little dairy) but I felt like I needed to switch it up a bit and challenge myself. So, after doing all my research and taking plenty of notes, I decided to jump right in on January 1st.
The most important thing to do before you start Whole30 is RESEARCH! I would suggest either going directly to the Whole30 website or buying the Whole30 book by Melissa Hartwig. It's okay to use other Whole30 vets as a reference but definitely make sure that your first reference is the book or website. For example, there were a couple of times I stumbled upon blogs and noticed that they had used non-whole30 compliant items (like coconut oil spray from Trader Joe's - PSA it has soybean oil in it).
I'll give you a quick rundown of what you are NOT suppose to consume during Whole30: no added sugars (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc), NO alcohol, no grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, quinoa, etc), NO legumes (beans, soy, peas, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts), NO dairy (cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc) and NO carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. One other important thing - you shouldn't try to recreate baked goods or try to recreate something you are craving (i.e. pancakes) using Whole30 compliant foods.
Whole30 is about more than just eating healthy. During the program, you are not suppose to weigh yourself or count calories, two things that we all know do not help maintain a healthy lifestyle. The first few days I thought to myself "wow, I am eating way too much fat," but I quickly shook that out of my head, especially when realizing how much more FULL and satisfied I felt after each meal.
Aside from feeling full after each meal, there were many other benefits I gained from Whole30. First, I can honestly say that I was never bloated over the course of 30 days. And after getting through those first few days of intense headaches due to sugar withdrawal, I experienced a huge spike in my energy levels. Not only that, but my skin was so much clearer than before I started Whole30.
One of my biggest takeaways from the Whole30 program? I got more creative in the kitchen! Before Whole30, I rarely cooked at home on the weekends and the food I did cook during the week was very bland and boring (think broccoli with chicken and rice practically every night). Some of my favorite recipes that I made include: Buffalo Ranch Stuffed Peppers from Primally Inspired, Spiced Mexican Tuna Steaks from Eat Drink Paleo and this Easy Breakfast Casserole from PaleOMG.
Your first haul to the grocery store will probably be a little overwhelming (and expensive) but it gets easier week after week! I'm pretty sure my first trip to Trader Joe's ran me at $140 but the following weeks I spent around $70 total. Some of my favorite staples to have included eggs, avocado, onions, sweet potatoes and shredded brussel sprouts. Those ingredients alone could make a delicious breakfast or lunch meal with the right spices. If I ever was hungry between meals, RX and Lara bars (whole30 complaints ones), almond butter (because no peanut butter), almonds, La Croix and fruit were my go to snacks.
I did go out to eat two times during the 30 days but I made sure to be THAT person when I was ordering my food. You know, asking how they cook everything and what is in each item (it was kind of annoying and embarrassing). SO, I would advise against going out to eat but if it's absolutely necessary there are ways to still be Whole30 compliant. When in doubt, get a salad sans cheese with a protein (grilled, no butter) and olive oil & balsamic vinegar for your dressing.
Overall, I truly enjoyed my Whole30 experience. And, I'm even proud of myself for sticking to it through my birthday - which meant no cake or wine for this girl! Below are my before and after pictures and I was amazed to see how much physical change I made in 30 short days. But I have to say, the inner transformation was the best part of the whole thing!