What I Learned from doing the January Whole30
This is the final post in our January Whole30 blog series. The Whole30 is a 30-day nutritional elimination and reset program where foods including dairy, gluten, sugar, grains and alcohol are cut out and slowly reintroduced over time. This 30 day process helps to facilitate better understanding around how food can affect energy, digestion and overall health.
When I first started the Whole30 I remember feeling very intimidated and overwhelmed. I thought that 30 days seemed like forever. I imagined myself having to turn down hanging out with friends constantly, having to spend countless hours meal-prepping and feared that my social life would take a huge hit.
Today is the last day of the Whole30, a day I honestly thought I would be so excited for. But instead of feeling excited or relieved, I’m feeling like tomorrow will be just just another day. It’s funny how once you stick to habits long enough, you don’t even have to think about them.
Completing the Whole30 has taught me so much about nutrition, and what works for me. I used to feel confused about what to eat and when, and I can definitely say I have a better sense of knowledge around nutrition, and an overall sense of freedom.
About half-way through the program I decided I would continue to eat very closely to the Whole30 guidelines, just a little less restrictive (i.e. I would eat out a restaurants without obsessing over ingredients in each item).
Why did this shift happen? Well I have a few ideas about this, and I’m breaking it down below.
What I Learned from the Whole30
1. Our Social Lives Don’t have to Revolve Around Alcohol/Food
I never actually turned down a single invitation to go out with my friends, and saying no to the alcohol/off- limit foods was not as hard as I thought. It was very eye-opening to think about how so much of our social lives can revolve around food and drinking--but what is crazy is that we feel like we HAVE to have that drink or food to participate and have fun. It’s kind of freeing really when I realized that eating some of those things or drinking usually made we feel worse and have less fun. I’m not by any means saying I won’t enjoy those things again--I just know that my future choices in social situations will be more intentional.
2. There is power in “deciding not to decide”
One of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, who writes and does research on habits, says one of the keys to developing good habits is “deciding not to decide.” I think this was one of the real keys to success on the Whole30. Once you decide not to eat grains, dairy, sugar etc. then you never have to make a decision. And decisions are not my friend when I’m sitting around a table with my girlfriends who are all drinking margaritas and asking if I want one. Under any other circumstance, I would have caved in 5 seconds. But something about committing to the process of the Whole30, and “deciding not to decide” about what I would or would not eat, was a huge step for me in learning about better nutrition and myself.
3. This is my new normal
I’m so grateful for doing this program because I have an immense feeling of freedom and knowledge around what foods make me feel best. Once I decided to stop questioning all the guidelines in the program and trust the process, I really saw the benefits. And once I started feeling better I went back to the Whole30 books and read about why certain foods make me feel bad or not as great as I want.
4. Health is a Personal Journey
I’ve also learned that doing any type of program like the Whole30 is a journey, and it’s a really personal one. What works for you may not work for anyone else. Or what the Whole30 says may work for most people may not even work for you. And that’s ok. Doing a program like this involves trial and error, and the key is to listen to yourself and do what’s best for you.
5. You (Really) Can’t Out train a Bad Diet
Ok, ok. I know most people know that this is true. But I didn't REALLY understand this concept until I saw the results for myself. I ate pretty clean before doing the Whole30, but was still eating foods like grains and dairy occasionally. Losing weight was not one of my main goals on this program (but a nice benefit). I lost more weight, faster during the Whole30 than in any other exercise or nutritional program I’ve ever done. I worked out consistently on this program, but not anything crazy. And I still lost weight and feel like I’m in better shape because of the Whole30. It was so interesting to see how some foods that I saw as “healthy” were probably making me hold on to a few pounds and not feel my best.
Overall, the Whole30 has helped me feel so much better. I’m clear- headed throughout the day, and my focus is better. I can even say that the dreaded “2pm fog” that I used to get almost everyday is gone.
It’s funny because you don’t realize until you get close to the end that Whole30 isn't really for 30 days...it’s more like a Whole40 or 45, depending on how you do the reintroduction phase.
For the reintroduction I’m planning on doing the slow reintroduction process, and slowly adding back some foods (like my favorite plant-based protein powder in some of my smoothies) to see how they make me feel. I’m also interested to reintroduce gluten-free grains over the next few weeks and see how those affect me. Overall, I plan to keep cutting out soy, sugar, gluten and dairy because I feel that those were some of the main culprits in affecting my energy levels before.
After completing the Whole30, I know I will never look at food the same again, and probably won’t go back to eating how I “normally” did. This is my new normal, and I’m totally ok with that.
some of my favorite recipes and products that helped me get through the Whole30:
Some of My Favorite Recipes From the new Whole30 Cookbook:
Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
Green Pork and Cauliflower Curry (I made this a lot with chicken or shrimp instead of pork)
From the original Whole30 Book:
Products that Helped Me Make it to Day 30:
These are basically the only approved “protein bars” on the program. They are really good and only contain a few ingredients. They are on the sweeter-side, but great to have around if you are travelling or too busy to cook a meal.
Nutpods sent us their dairy-free Coffee creamers to try, and they are by far the best (compliant) coffee creamer alternative. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I started drinking Bulletproof coffee, but for those days when I needed another cup or just wanted a decaf, I would use Nutpods and I LOVED it. Seriously, didn't expect the flavor to be so good. Nutpods are half-almond, half coconut milk, and come in 3 different flavors.
Read my review on the Vital Proteins Products here.
Tessemae's Salad Dressing
Did you do the January Whole30? Let us know how it went in the comments!