Today I’m so happy to share a post from my very good friend, Kate! She’s sharing her own journey with the Whole30 program!
Kaitlyn Dellostritto is a wife, mom and blogger at Everyday Kate Blog, a lifestyle blog for millennial moms. She lives in Pennsylvania with her high-school sweetheart and their son. www.youreverydaykate.com
You heard it here first, folks. I FAILED the Whole30. And I’m not talking like I ate one chocolate chip on accident – I full-on failed. I hate that word, don’t you? Almost as much as I hate the big “Q” word. I don’t like to think of myself as a quitter, I don’t think any of us do. But when my husband and I embarked on our first Whole30 program on January 1st, to say we were naive would be an understatement. I thought I had the meal planning down, I knew the rules, I was 100% prepared – or so I thought. Our “withdrawl” was textbook, but still I felt like we were doing something wrong…there was no way that I was MEANT to be THIS hungry for 30 days straight. It was either finish the program or die trying, so we took the easy way out and quit after two weeks. Although it was more difficult than any other healthy-eating regimen we’ve tried in the past, it honestly wasn’t ALL bad.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Whole30 Program, you can read all the information and rules here. But, just to give you a quick summary: the Whole30 Program is a healthy-eating regimen which requires you to eliminate dairy, grains, legumes (including soy), alcohol, added sugar, or specific additives like MSG, carrageenan or sulfites for 30 days. What you CAN eat are whole foods: vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, eggs, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds. Are you still there? If you’re like me, you probably got lost around somewhere up there between “dairy” and “added sugar”. I know, it’s NOT EASY, and it doesn’t claim to be easy! But it also doesn’t claim to be hard. The purpose of the Whole30 isn’t to lose weight, although it’s a fact that you most likely WILL lose weight. The whole point of it is to eliminate food groups that could be having an adverse effect on your health and well-being without you even realizing it. As with any process of elimination, there WILL be withdrawl, and you WILL be tired, cranky, “hangry” and a whole host of other emotions for the first week or two, all of which are supposedly completely normal. It’s a great way to “reset” your body, and establish some healthier habits that will ultimately benefit you way beyond the 30 days of the program.
Don’t let this daunting introduction scare you away from trying Whole30 for yourself, but just know that if you fail like us, your efforts weren’t completely for nothing. There was a lot about the program that I felt like we benefitted from – especially my husband who is notorious for his sweet tooth. I’ve got to say, this isn’t going to be your typical Whole30 success post, BUT I do want to share five invaluable lessons that those measly two weeks taught us – keep on reading!
#1 – How To Snack Healthy
I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and I are HUGE snackers. I snack all day long, including while I’m cooking dinner, and I snack afterwards. Eliminating every single sugary, cheesy, carb-y snack definitely taught us a few things about smart snacking. During the Whole30, my go-to snacks were compliant nut butter (Trader Joe’s sells a delicious one) with fruit, almonds, or carrots and guacamole – all things I don’t normally reach for, but surprisingly, they kept me full AND satisfied. By choosing smarter snacks like fruit and vegetables, not only does it help me stay full, but I’m giving my body healthy vitamins and nutrients instead of a handful of additives and artificial flavors.
#2 – How To Think Outside The Box
Cooking dinner during the Whole30 can quickly become a MAJOR dilemma if you don’t plan far enough in advance, or don’t quite understand what you’ve gotten yourself into (like me). I really had to think outside the box and get a little creative when it came to making meals that were going to be filling AND stay within the rules of the Whole30. One of the main ways I did this was trying to incorporate LOTS of protein and healthy fats into every meal. One of the most filling dinners I made was zucchini noodles with meat sauce. I simmered compliant, jarred marinara sauce with ground beef, onions, green pepper, and some additional Italian spices, and served it over “al dente” zucchini noodles. It was delicious! Something else I found myself doing often was to add an avocado to my breakfast or as a side with dinner. Like I said – get creative!
#3 – How To Say No
Like I mentioned above, we are HUGE snackers over here, and it was super hard for me to learn how to say “no” when temptation arose to break the rules, even in the slightest way. As much as the Whole30 is about changing my physical eating habits and considering what types of foods are going into my body, it is also VERY much about the mental aspect & our relationship with food in general. Saying “no” to a particular food during the Whole30 usually meant I had to ask myself some important questions: why am I craving this food? What healthier options do I have that can satisfy my craving? Am I hungry, or am I just thirsty? Usually if I was craving something during the Whole30, it was just that – a craving. I wasn’t legitimately hungry, but I was just hankering for something sweet, or a salty, crunchy potato chip. Saying “no” to those little bits of junk food really opened my eyes to the powerful effect my own thoughts can have on my body when it comes to food, especially during an elimination diet like this one!
#4 – How To Stay Energized (Without Sugar)
Newsflash: when you actually fill up on healthy fats, proteins, good carbs and other sustainable nutrients, your body doesn’t even NEED the kick (and crash) from sugar to keep you going. Which means, no more moseying on down to the snack machine around 3pm to get that candy bar that you’re PRAYING will carry you through to the end of your shift. Trust me when I say I’m speaking from experience, here. Although coffee IS allowed during the Whole30, you’ll find that drinking WATER is absolutely key when it comes to staying energized throughout the day. Staying hydrated is always a good idea, but you’d be surprised at how it can help you stay awake and focused throughout the day.
#5 – How To Still Enjoy Life Itself
This final thing might seem a little dramatic, but if you’ve ever attempted the Whole30 or you’ve come across the infamous “timeline” associated with all of the “withdrawl” symptoms, you know that figuring out how to enjoy life during the Whole30 is a very real thing. I can’t tell you how many evenings my husband and I sat on the couch after dinner, sulking because we couldn’t indulge in our favorite evening snacks. I actually remember one conversation that included one of us (read: me) expressing how badly I wanted to just eat one single Cheez-IT, hahaha. The fact is: it’s ONLY 30 days – have fun with it! Although it’s easy to wallow in your cheesy & carb-loaded sorrows, it can also be the best time to try some interesting, new dishes that you might not have otherwise tried. Try convincing your spouse to do the program with you, OR rally a few friends together and motivate/encourage one another – it makes a WORLD of difference!
I truly hope this post didn’t scare you away from the Whole30 Program, and just because I failed it, doesn’t mean you will! All it really takes is some careful planning and the right mindset, and apparently – from my friends who’ve completed it – you won’t regret it! On the plus side, even if you DO fail like I did, you’ll most likely learn a bunch of new things about yourself and your relationship with food. What’s stopping you from at least trying?