It starts with food.
Or, at least that’s what Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30 tells us. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 here’s the SparkNotes version: For 30 days, you remove ALL sugar, dairy, legumes, grains and happiness from your diet. If you mess up, you start over. From day one. It’s an elimination diet, to show you how your body reacts to certain foods and the psychological hold some foods may have on you (AKA, Taco Bell for me).
So why would anyone do this to themselves? Those who have successfully made it the full 30 days claim they have increased energy, increased focus, clearer skin, fewer or no more stomach issues, less bloating, decreased anxiety/depression and (what we all really want) weight loss. The creators stress that this is NOT a weight loss plan, but let’s be real, I’m not giving up regular trips to Taco Bell for a few pimples to disappear.
There are a TON of rules, and you have to read food labels like it’s your job. Did you know there is sugar in almost EVERY type of bacon found at Kroger?
I tried this a few years ago with my mom and made it a whopping nine days before diving in head-first to a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. My mom made it the entire 30 days because she has willpower and apparently enjoys her coffee black (whatever).
Without boring you with too many personal life details, I decided to take the Whole30 plunge again. I started May 31, after a Chick-fil-A Last Supper the night before. I’m doing this for several reasons: To minimize bloating, to see if dairy is the root cause of a little eczema I have, and to see if it has any effect on my anxiety and depression — something I’ve struggled with for years. Oh, and because I REALLY want to lose a few pounds. Don’t tell the creators.
Guys, it’s really hard. For a lot of reasons. The cravings are really strong. I had a dream about provolone cheese the other night. Kid you not.
Also, I’m finding that it’s really difficult to do when you live in a city that doesn’t have a Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods/ Fancy Vegan Grass-Fed Grocery Store That Smells Like Incense. There are a lot of blogs out there with recipes that look AMAZING, but I can’t buy the Trader Joe’s-brand anything the recipes call for here in the CWV. Kroger does have a lot of options though, but that leads me to my next point.
Eating like this is expensive. You can’t have butter on the Whole30, but you can have its weird cousin you probably didn’t know about — ghee. Honestly, I don’t even know what ghee is, but I do know it costs $14.99 at Kroger for a small jar. Also I paid a ridiculous amount of money for a container of “almond butter” because peanut butter is off limits.
That’s a lot of complaining. Believe it or not, about a week in, I have found a few benefits from this already.
I lost two pounds (again, don’t tell the creators I weighed myself), I’m waking up at a decent time actually feeling refreshed (usually I lay in bed most of the morning groaning), and I feel really empowered reading food labels and making conscious choices from that. Side note: I found chorizo the other day that actually listed lymph nodes as an ingredient (YUCK!). I’m meal prepping, guys, like actually doing the darn thing.
I also joined a Facebook group of strangers from around the world who have decided to strip their diets of happiness for 30 days with me. They’re really helpful/uplifting/good at listening to me vent.
If you’re interested, I’ll be posting sporadic updates on this blog for the remainder of my Whole30. I’d love it if you all could help keep me accountable, encourage me and not tempt me with cheese/wine/bread/happiness.
And let me know if you’re interested and have questions! I have meals plans, tips and emotional coping strategies I’m certainly willing to share!