There is something about the start of a new school year that has me eager for a refresh. I am fortunate enough to work in education and it feels like I get a “new year” twice a year. Not only do I get the reboot come Jan 1 with the rest of the world, but every fall I feel a sense of contemplation and a need for a life haul.
This new year I am directing our attention towards our diet. I want to clean out our pantry and grocery run to include more whole-foods and less sugary snacks. As I’ve mentioned before I am well aware of the allergens that cause several of the digestive issues I deal with, but I can’t help but cheat and eat sugar and dairy- after all, Dairyland is in my blood! There are several expectations I have for this Whole 30, but I am most excited to attempt this round with my husband. My greatest hope is that we can change our habits together and redesign not only the meals we eat but the way we eat. Right now, we are very comfortable with the “fend for yourself” mentality and infrequently sit down to eat a meal together. I would like to establish a routine that forces us to turn off and sit down, if only for a brief moment, to eat a healthy and scrumptious meal.
What is the WHOLE30®?
The Whole 30 is a program created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig to eliminate certain food groups (grains, dairy, and sugar) out of your diet completely to allow your body to heal and refocus your attachment to food. This program is restrictive in nature to eliminate many of the trigger foods that cause indigestion, stomach pain, and other allergic reactions. Typically I would not be a fan of these restrictive diets because they don’t promote long term change. However, I’ve learned through my food journey, many of the foods that we react to, really stem from one trigger food. When dealing with food allergies it is recommended to eliminate the biggest triggers for a period of time to allow the body to heal. Then when you add the trigger foods back into your diet in moderation, you have a better understanding of what foods you should avoid entirely. It’s much like introducing foods to a baby when you’re not sure what they might be allergic too.
The program calls for 30 days to reshape your diet, body, and mind. The rules are clear and call for total elimination of alcohol, added sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy. It goes a step further and eliminates foods that may be “compliant” but look and act like a treat/dessert/or chips. Again, part of the program is not just to eliminate certain foods to heal your body, but also eliminate our mindset when it comes to food. Do we eat the oreo cookie because it is the best cookie ever? Maybe, but there is most likely an emotional attachment to eating the oreo and the Whole 30 is working towards breaking down that attachment.
How to prepare for the 30 days?
This will be my third attempt at the Whole 30 and after one successful round, I’ve outlined what I have found to be the best ways to prepare for the 30 days without any cheating.
- Read the Whole30 Book It Starts With Food. I think having an understanding of what is allowed and not allowed and the reasons for eliminating the trigger foods, helps you know what to look for when you are grocery shopping. I’m not sure how often you read a nutrition label, but the ingredient list is filled with long words and scientific terms to hide added sugars and fats. Reading the book starts your 30 days with the best intentions and with the most knowledge.
- Meal plan- decide what you will be eating before the week starts. Make sure you not only know what your eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but prepare the food ahead of time as well. How many times do you come home from a long day at work and stray from your diet because cooking a meal is the last thing you want to do and picking up fast food is the best option? Happens far too often for us. Meal planning and meal prepping makes sure you always have compliant food ready when hunger strikes.
- Use Pinterest to plan your meals- Simply type in Whole 30 in the search bar and you will find a ton of Whole 30 recipes that could get you through years of the Whole 30 program. I like searching Pinterest to try out new recipes so I don’t get bored with the same ol’ meals. My favorite thing to search for are Whole 30 Crock Pot meals.
- Plan for emergencies- Plan for the moment when your friends want to visit a new restaurant and you show up and realize there aren’t any Whole30 compliant foods. Having a compliant snack handy can hold you over until you can find a meal that fits the plan.
- Pay attention to why you “must have that dessert/sugar/drink etc- This is where I have fallen off the wagon. I was fixated on social settings and I told myself, I needed to break from the whole 30 in order to celebrate a big moment or eat the cake at a birthday celebration. These are absolutely the questions we have to ask ourselves when choosing to eat those trigger foods while not on the Whole 30, but during the program, you have to realize you don’t need the food and committing to the program is more important.
By far, a lack of planning is the greatest culprit for cheating during the 30 days.
My Whole 30 Expectations
1. Less Dependence on Sugar– No matter what your thoughts are on this topic, sugar is addictive and makes you want more. I’d like to end this endless cycle.
2. Control over my snacking- Or at least learn to find better snacks that don’t cause sugar high’s and low’s.
3. Healing of my digestive track- Do I expect all my problems to be solved? No. But if I can get these foods out of my system and learn that I don’t actually have to have cheese at every meal (again my childhood), then I can stop eating the foods that cause all my problems.
4. More Energy- The website states a boost of energy is expected a few weeks into the program. I’ve also read it gets worse before it gets better.
5. Consistent Meal Times- I don’t think the Whole 30 was explicitly built to bring about consistent meal times, but the more focus we have on our food and what we will eat and when we will eat it to keep up our energy, I assume all of our meals will be more consistent. As I mentioned above, I really want to work on sit down meals for at least half of the week.
This will be my third attempt to work through the entire Whole 30. I usually start off really strong and can make it at least half way because I start to notice the positive impacts. However, almost like clockwork, an event pops up on my calendar that I just have to have a drink. This year it will be Homecoming. Right smack dap in the middle. But we’re going to stay strong and make it through the 30 days! Fake it til you make it right?!
Have any of you attempted or completed the Whole 30 program? What was your experience like?