Whole30 Ain't No Joke
Updated: Feb 24, 2022
"Whole30, you're doing this in the midst of holiday time? You're nuts!" Those were the thoughts in my head as I had the idea to begin a Whole30 elimination diet. I had been thinking about starting it, but had my doubts if I could handle it. Starting in Oct right near Halloween with all the candy and festivities & Diwali time with all the delicious mithai (sweets), was not going to be a walk in the park. It's hard to explain, but there was just something that told me now's the time. I had 30 days until Thanksgiving and more importantly, my son's first birthday. I can make it work! I also knew I had been doing Paleo for 6 months so this would just mean no baking treats, even the Paleo ones and no grain free breads or packaged items. Luckily, most of my meals I had been making were also Whole30, so the switch wouldn't be so cut throat.
If you're new to Whole30, let me explain some of the guidelines that come with following this "reset":
* No grains of any kind
* No legumes
* No dairy
* No added sugar (real or artificial)
* No alcohol, not even in cooking
* No creating or buying baked goods (even with compliant ingredients)
* No taking your weight or measurements for 30 days
The idea as you can see is to eat wholesome food where you can point to the ground and say where it came from. Mostly produce and grass-fed, organic meat. You're doing more of the food prep and cooking, but an occasional going out for food, with following the guidelines is OK. I did not partake in going out, except to Chipotle as we just haven't been doing that with the pandemic and also trying to cut back on costs. There are some places that cater to Whole30 and that makes it easier, such as Chipotle. I recommend waiting until weeks 2-3 to start going out.
Get to know your body, watch your energy levels, digestion, and even skin begin to change. It's not a diet where you are observing weight loss each week, so that's why we don't want you getting on the scale.
So how did this all go for Sonia? Well, eating the produce, meat, and not getting on the scale were not too difficult. As mentioned earlier, I was already making mostly Whole30 recipes so that wasn't a big change. My energy levels were amazing, so that kept me going. I was going to soon realize, following Whole30 is not the tough part. What were some benefits I felt during and definitely by the end of my 30 days?
NSV's (Non-Scale Victories):
* More energy
* Flexibility and range in motion improved
* Confidence increased
* Mood stable- even during some chaotic moments, staying calm and stoic
* Less bloating
* Digestion consistent
* 0 acid reflux
* Wedding ring loose
* Clothes loose or fitting more comfortably- I shopping in my own closet
* Smiling more- my daughter even asked why I was smiling :)
* Feeling more outgoing
* Fewer sugar cravings
* Fewer carb cravings
* Snacking much less, mostly fruit or a few nuts
* Felt very empowered in food choices
* Lost 10.5 lbs in 30 days
Now comes the hard part- reintroduction. Not going to lie, I thought this part would be easy, but now I am starting to understand why it's tricky. Reintroduction means you are bringing back some of your favorite foods to see how your body reacts. Honestly, I thought my body would welcome these foods back because let's face it, I've had them for years. If anything, I was scared of reintroduction because I was worried I'd crave more sugar and carbs again. I was worried my work from this past year (losing over 30 lbs) would start to creep back up. Can you see that my thoughts all come from worrying about weight? Melissa, the founder of Whole30 keeps stressing the idea of this being beyond just weight loss- it's about knowing your body and what it can handle. After day 31, I am now understanding what she means.
Reintroduction is about introducing foods back 1 at a time so that you can closely monitor how your body reacts. Well, day 31 was Thanksgiving. I had my best friend and her family over to join us. Luckily we didn't have too heavy of a feast planned- mostly centered around fruit and veggies. The added sugar I didn't overindulge in, but I did try a bite of a s'mores cookie, some tastes of my husband's layered pie, 1 roll, a few nibbles on homemade cranberry sauce, and small spoonful of stuffing. Do you sense a problem here? Yep, that's too many "tastes" in 1 sitting. Immediately that night I felt nausea coming on, reflux, and even sweats. The next day the reflux did not leave my system. I did a great job of eating Whole30 foods in the day, but I reintroduced too much, too fast in the evening. I was so excited to taste these traditional Thanksgiving foods and of course see what happens when I eat them. But now I am not sure what caused the reflux: was it a mixture of grains, dairy, and sugar? Or was it 1 ingredient in particular?
This reflux lasted several days after Thanksgiving. I had my son's birthday on the 27th too and I was not about to not taste the cake I had made. I told myself 1 slice, as I didn't know how my body would react. I also made a heavy pasta dish, my daughter's favorite that I hadn't made in months. Whoops! That's going to backfire too. So now I am left in this zone between my 30 day reset and reintroduction. The only way out of this crummy feeling, is to reset more and then slowly introduce foods back again. It's a process! That's why it's important to not just think of the 30 days as the only part of the program, you have to consider it as almost 42 days with the reintroduction part. Some people take 30 more days to reintroduce foods.
But this all taught me something so important! Whole30 is more of an elimination diet/reset for your body. That means it's a way for you to learn more about your digestion and internally what's going on as you consume food. We can't see what's going on inside, so the only way to tell if a food works for us is to closely monitor how it makes you feel. I am going to be straight up with you: foods that were once OK in your body, might not be OK anymore. Your body might have lived in destress and you didn't even know it. You didn't know it because you've lived that way for so long and your body just got accustomed to it. You might have had food sensitivities, but never known it. Resetting your body has cleaned all that out. Inflammation has either lessened or gone away and then when you bring those old foods back, it starts to cause your body to react. I have read article after article of people losing weight on Whole30 and describing it as being super inflamed. I thought it was all BS. Having this reflux happen woke me up and made me realize food is not just "good" or "bad" it's only about how it works for YOU! That's why food choices are all about bioindividuality. What's my poison may not be yours. That's why 1 diet program cannot work for everyone. It may serve you temporarily, but in the long run, you have to choose what works for you.
So my reintroduction phase continues. I may have some smaller pants I can finally wear, but when your gut feels angry and inflamed, you just don't feel like doing that happy dance anymore. I am going to continue to follow Whole30 guidelines this week and if it settles, I will slowly be introducing grains, dairy, and legumes one at a time with some Whole30 days in between. I will gladly share my findings with you because it is interesting to see what Whole30 uncovers.
If you are planning to try Whole30, here are my words of wisdom:
* Get the Whole30 book (guide to program)
* Use the Day by Day journal book to track your victories, emotions, foods, and read Melissa's tips
* Buy and read the Food Freedom book that will help you break down the program mentally and help you prepare for reintroduction
* Get your family on board- tell them what and why you are doing Whole30 - let them know you don't expect them to eat all the foods you make, but you will make it work for them too (adding grains, legumes, or other foods to their plates as they like)
* Voice the program to a friend or make it public- you are more likely to stick to it in the beginning when it may feel overwhelming
* If need be, hire a coach- either a holistic coach or a Whole30 coach if you've never eaten in this way before (it's daunting at first and it's so nice to have a best friend by your side)
I am happy to support you in any way I can if you're inspired to do a reset, following holiday season. I am not a Whole30 coach, however being a holistic coach, I do have knowledge in elimination diets. Doing Whole30 myself, I can assist with days that are trickier, but also celebrate with you on the days you're ready to do a happy dance....there will be a lot of those!