I’ve done Whole30 challenges a few times, and thoroughly enjoy how they make me feel. And so I wanted to share this dietary theory with you. But remember, we are all different, and what works for one person, may not work for another. That said, Whole30 has had a really positive effect on my life and body. Not only in getting rid of excess weight, but also transforming my relationship with food. Below is more about Whole30, how it works and my personal experience doing it. Happy reading!
Disclaimer: While this dietary theory is not extreme to some, it does cut out big food groups. So, if you have a serious condition, allergies or intolerances, consult your doctor first. And if you’re a vegetarian, look carefully into how you can get enough protein.
What is The Whole30?
The Whole30 is a 30-day food (and lifestyle) challenge. For 30 days, you cut out certain food groups like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. The idea is to cut out foods that may be having a negative impact on your health, so that your body can reset itself.
Push the reset button:
In Whole30‘s words:
Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making.
Discover which foods have negative effects on your body:
After 30 days of Whole30 eating, you can then start slowly introducing other foods into your diet. By having a cleaned out reset body, and introducing one food group at a time, you can discover which foods have positive and negative effects on you.
For example, you could introduce dairy for a week, and see how you feel.
What to eat for 30 days:
– Moderate amounts of meat, seafood, and eggs
– Lots of vegetables
– Some fruit
– Plenty of natural fats
– Herbs and spices
The Whole30 basically focuses on eating more whole and unprocessed foods. And cutting out the sugary and processed foods.
What to avoid for 30 days:
– Added Sugars
– Peanut butter
– Carrageenan, MSG, sulfites
– Baked goods and junk foods
It may seem like a lot to avoid, but believe me, you get used to it.
You also start noticing which foods you are more addicted too, as you’ll start craving them. Be strong, and eventually your cravings will subside. Have fun experimenting with healthy alternatives, and as you start realising how much great food there is to enjoy, even without the above.
From the list above, remember that no “Added Sugars” includes real and artificial sugars. So items like maple syrup, honey and agave nectar are out.
Go and check out the Whole30 Program Rules page to get more details on what you can eat and what to avoid. It’s a very resourceful site, with recipes, meal plans and lots more.
Be strong for 30 days
It’s important that, if you do Whole30, that you stick to it 100% without exceptions for a whole 30 days. To properly cleanse and reset your body, you need to be strong for 30 days.
In Whole30’s words:
The only way this works is if you give it the full thirty days: no cheats, slips, or “special occasions.” This isn’t a hazing, a boot camp, or us playing the tough guy. This is a fact, born of science and experience. The Whole30 is, at its heart, an elimination diet. Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle; promoting cravings, messing with blood sugar, disrupting the integrity of your digestive tract, and (most important) firing up the immune system. One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.
You must commit to the full program, exactly as written, 100% for the full 30 days. Anything less and you won’t experience the full benefits the program has to offer. Anything less and you are selling yourself—and your life-changing results—short.
It’s only 30 days. Be strong and be strict with yourself to really feel the full effects.
Last and final rule:
Whole30 has one last and final rule that I absolutely love: Do not step on a scale.
In Whole30’s words:
Do not step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days. The Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and to focus only on body composition means you’ll overlook all of the other dramatic, lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat, or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
My first Whole30 was in 2016.
I was feeling very bloated a lot of the time and getting stomach cramps. My digestive system didn’t feel great and I wanted to cleanse my body and find some balance. Discovering Whole30 online after much searching, it felt like the perfect thing for me at that time. It was a structured way that I could cleanse my body, and hopefully restore balance to my digestive system.
So I gave it go. My partner did it with me.
Slim and trim baby.
We both saw and felt a big change physically after the 30 days. And feeling great, we did it again!
We both lost most of our excess weight, and felt slim and trim at the end. We felt lighter and more energised.
It was actually quite amazing.
Going from lots of pasta to meats and salads, really had an impact. Not only on the waistline, but also in how I felt. After eating a meat and salad dinner I felt lighter, and better, like it was a puzzle piece in my system. Today I still love pasta, but it’s no longer a regular meal.
Whole30 inspired me to make changes to my diet, and through it I discovered a new way of eating that felt a lot better for my body.
One of the biggest physical effects I felt was that my bloating and stomach cramps were gone. Completely gone!
Besides the physical effects, I loved how holistically good I felt. Mentally, emotionally, physically, everything.
I remember a specific moment, at the end of my first Whole30. I was getting up for 5:30 am yoga classes at a nearby studio. Getting to those early classes felt impossible before, and now I was energised enough in the mornings to actually get up and go to them.
I had just finished a class, showered and was driving to work. Having already done some power yoga, I was feeling really really great. It was about 7 am, and the roads were pretty quiet. Driving along the smooth road, big smile, breeze in my face, feeling light and energised.
I remember thinking to myself, Wow, I feel really good.
We are what we eat.
So even though Whole30 may affect you differently to me, the lesson here is that, we truly are what we eat.
When we eat well, and nurture our bodies, we feel good. Our bodies move with ease. Our minds feel clear and sharp. We get out of bed feeling ready for the day.
Yes! How good it is to feel this way! Jumping out of bed in the morning feeling fresh instead of groggy!
Giving up added sugar:
Whole30 changed my personal relationship with sugar.
When I did Whole30, I wasn’t eating crazy amounts of sugar. But I was having a teaspoon in my coffee, drinking a couple cokes and eating a few chocolates a week, along with other treats.
Back then, eating that amount of sugar seemed normal. That seems like a lot to me now.
The huge revelation came when I ate a Snickers chocolate bar.
I had just completed my first Whole30. I stopped at a petrol station and bought a small snickers chocolate bar as a treat. In the car, I swiftly unwrapped it and took a big bite. Chewing on that first bite was suddenly weird as I was having a completely different sensory experience. Instead of it tasting A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, it felt like I was just eating a mouthful of artificial-tasting sugar. It was actually quite difficult to swallow, and a disappointing experience to say the least.
I gave the chocolate away to the closest petrol attendant I could find, who looked at me very puzzled. Please, I said, Please just take it away from me. 🙂
My taste buds had actually changed, which was a revelation to me.
Since that moment, my relationship with sugar completely changed. And a much healthier one emerged. Moderation.
Find a balance of the good and the fun!
While I still eat sugary treats occasionally, I don’t buy sugar or ever add it to my tea or coffee anymore. It’s not part of my regular eating habits and is instead a delicious indulgence every once and a while.
By maintaining healthy eating 80 or 90% of the time, I leave the rest for whatever I desire. A gorgeous creamy gelato, a morning pastry, a quality nut chocolate, yum.
A Whole30 challenge can help eliminate your sugar cravings, which is key to finding balance in your body. I called it the sugar dragon. At the start of a Whole30 challenge, you are taming the dragon. In your first weeks of Whole30, not eating any sugar can make you feel horrid, but if you push through, you’ll enjoy the rewards.
When you finished the Whole30, your sugar dragon is tamed and relaxed, but as soon start eating more sugar you will feel him rise up again. And you need to use your willpower to control it. You will start to gain control of any sugar addictions and eat more mindfully. At least, that’s what I experienced, and it felt good.
Giving up dairy:
My biggest challenge was quitting dairy. Particularly because I liked milk in my tea and coffee. And I drink A LOT of tea and coffee.
Nonetheless, my partner and I committed to the challenge. And I think that having a health-buddy doing it with you is a huge motivator. He used to have milk AND 3 or 4 teaspoons of sugar in his coffee. So I was determined that I could also cut out my milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar in my coffee too. Challenge accepted!
It was tough in the beginning, but over time my taste buds adjusted. It was incredible to discover that our tastebuds can actually change.
The power to change quickly.
Doing these sorts of challenges shows you the power of consistency.
When you do something consistently for a period of time, you see change happen quicker. And it’s an amazing thing, as it makes you realise that we do have the power to transform rapidly. And being consistent plays a huge role in this.
On Whole30, I started to realise that our bodies are like intelligent biocomputers that can adapt and adjust quickly.
It was mindblowing to me that, at the end of those 30 days, I was used to drinking black coffee without sugar. I wasn’t craving sugar, dairy or carbs. I was eating my main meals without cravings in between. My portions were smaller and I wasn’t feeling hungry like usual. I just felt overall in control of my eating habits, in a good way.
By just changing what I ate for 30 consecutive days, I felt transformed in a way. Remember though, your experience may be different to mine. If you try, let me know about your personal experience in the comments.
My relationship with food:
Overall, Whole30 changed the way I see food.
Instead of just eating, I now mindfully decide what I feed my body. And I realise that we truly are what we eat.
The Whole30 challenge is not about cutting out all these foods forever, and that’s that. I mean, life is also about living and enjoying, not about restricting and being hard on ourselves.
Whole30 is instead more about resetting your body and reconnecting with the food you eat and how it makes you feel. At least, that what Whole30 aims to do, and what I experienced myself.
On a Whole30 challenge, you notice changes physically and mentally as you go. You discover what it feels like to cleanse your body of certain food groups, and what it feels like to not eat some of the foods you eat so often. You will notice which foods you crave and can start working on healthier habits.
After your 30 days, you can then start to introduce food groups, one by one, and see what effects they have on you.
Whole30 is not a diet plan you have to stick to forever. It’s just a 30-day detox to reset your body. A way to beat unhealthy food cravings, and form a healthy relationship with the food you eat. It is a way to reconnect with your body.
Ready to do a Whole30 challenge?
Whole30 is not the answer for everyone, as different bodies respond differently to dietary theories. So once again, if you do have a serious condition, allergies or intolerances, consult your doctor first. And if you’re a vegetarian, look carefully into how you can get enough protein.
If you’re keen to learn more about it, check out the Whole30 website. It is super informative, with everything from the rules, support, and tons of yummy recipes. If you do give it a go, let me know what your experience is like in the comments below!