I did it! I completed a Whole 30, and it was life-changing.
So here’s the deal… My family’s “Come to Jesus” moment happened in June when we went on a trip to Phoenix, AZ. On the way back home, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch. I looove Cracker Barrel. Having grown up in the South, it reminds me of home.
When we went there, I ordered a Fried Chicken Salad. Not the best thing on the menu, but certainly not the worst. Since we practice baby-led weaning, J was looking at my plate and begging for food. I found myself thinking, “Hmmm, what to give her?
Bits of fried chicken? No way.
The wedge of cheese? Not in your life.”
In the end, the only thing I felt good about her eating were my tomatoes. She ate all of them.
Fast forward to two hours later in the car. We had been riding in silence for a while when I blurted out, “So I’ve been thinking. There is food that I don’t feel good about Junia eating, right? So why am I eating it?”
My husband said, “I was just thinking the exact same thing! Not why are you eating it, but why are we, as a family, eating it?”
Two days later he approached me about doing a Whole 30. I had heard about it before (I don’t live under a rock– sorry if you haven’t heard of it, but it is literally everywhere). However, I still didn’t really know all of the ends and outs of it. So we ordered the book and read it cover to cover.
What is it you ask? First off, they make it very clear that it is not a diet. The goal is not to lose weight although lots of people do. The program is a lifestyle change, 30 days to reorient your mind and your relationship with food. And one of the ways you do that is by eliminating all of the foods that have been known to cause inflammation:
Legumes (yes, that includes peanuts)
And you also change your relationship with food by eliminating comfort foods, even if the ingredients within them are compatible with the program (i.e., no pancakes even if they are made out of just eggs and bananas, even though eggs and bananas by themselves are allowed). Make sense?
So I was more than willing to do it, but I was also mentally prepared to suffer for the next 30 days from unrequited food desires.
So E and I started, and do you know what? It was fine. Better than fine actually, and right from the beginning. Now, I know that’s not everyone’s experience. A friend of ours was halfway through his 30 days when we started. His perspective was that it “****ing sucked,” (which, coming from him, is really saying something), but for both my husband and I, it was fine. We ate a ton of food. I am sure that helped. I gave myself permission to eat more fat, which was huge for me.
The only rough patch was when I went on a business trip for a week and was without a car. Thankfully, there was a Chipotle within walking distance of my hotel, but l did make a very important discovery that week: it is possible to OD on guacamole. Who knew?
So what were our results at the end of the 30 days?
Erik was down 8 pounds and no longer had sugar cravings. He also said it changed his relationship with food.
For me, I also lost 8 pounds.
I made sure to say the weight loss results first because I know that’s what some people really care about, but for me, what’s more important is what I gained.
(Also, sorry for no before or after pictures. I really wasn’t expecting any weight loss, so I took all of my pics in my undies. Not for internet consumption.)
Anyhow, here is a list of what I gained:
- A better understanding of food. I already knew a lot about food, and I thought I knew a lot about nutrition, but my understanding of nutrition was very much colored by the food pyramid from the US government (i.e., lots of whole grains and low-fat dairy). This is how many personal trainers, fitness professionals, and experts also understand food, and it was interesting that I thrived on something completely different. Hmmm…
- Not all food is created equal. Here is an area where I really grew in knowledge. Did you know that not all brands make a food item the same way? Before the program, if you asked me if yellow mustard contained sugar, I would have said no. But some of them do, like Trader Joe’s brand (sigh!). That’s why it is important to read the labels on EVERYTHING. ALL THE TIME.
- Food freedom. I have been on a diet. I have been on several different diets. Every time I have been on a diet, there has been an internal battle waged. I walk past the donuts at church. Can I eat one? I shouldn’t eat one. I really want to eat one. I am constantly fighting with myself, hoping that my willpower will win the day and beating myself up if I fail. Whole 30 was different. I felt so satiated that I didn’t want a donut. I understood what the sugar would do to me. It was easy to walk away.
- Healing for me. Dry scalp and keratosis pilaris both gone. I think my PCOS is gone too, but since I am breastfeeding, there is no way I can know for sure unless I have an ultrasound.
- Healing for J. I had been convinced that J had eczema; she little patches of dry skin on her tummy. Every day I slathered them with different balms or coconut oil. Nothing. The change in my diet made them disappear. The only problem is that I eliminated so many things from my diet all at once, I don’t know what was causing the inflammation in her. But still, they’re gone!
- A better baby-led weaning experience. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing it is to grab anything and everything off my plate and be able to hand it to J. There is no guilt in eating things she can’t have or feeling like I am denying her like there was before. It is wonderful!
- Heightened spiritual awareness. I had read many blog posts from other people trying to get a sense of what was in store, and no one else seemed to mention this. In all fairness, I have a great proclivity towards this anyway. For example, five or six years ago, I went on a two day fast. It was intense, and I found myself feeling overwhelmed, recognizing all too well my shortcomings and my desperate need for God. The same thing happened again on day 3 or 4 of the Whole 30. And this awareness continued throughout the program. This might seem scary or intimidating, but I appreciated this level of awareness.
- And finally, the “tiger’s blood effect.” Others have talked about this elsewhere. During the program, usually towards the end, you just feel… great. I personally think this is because most processed food contains so many neurotoxins: aspartame, monosodium glutamate, sucralose, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, and of course, sugar! There is some evidence that shows that certain types of depression are linked to neurotransmitter dysfunction which can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, and you guessed it, neurotoxins.
Erik and I had such a life-altering experience that we decided to keep going. We followed a strict Whole 30 for 41 days when we decided to introduce a glass of red wine at dinnertime. We now both follow the Whole 30 lifestyle about 90% of the time.
What do you think? Have you heard of the Whole 30? Are you willing to try it?
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