I first mentioned Whole30 in “5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Health Right Now.” I’d hoped that the post would pique your interest in the program, but in case it did not, allow me to try again. I am currently in the middle of my second Whole30, but I’ll backtrack to my first one. It was April 2017 when I decided to give myself this experience as a birthday present.
I was a novice home chef and had been dabbling heavily in baking. If you are what you eat, I was banana bread, Levain-style cookies, gâteau au yaourt, catered office food, boxed products from Trader Joe’s, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (specifically half baked, milk & cookies, and chocolate fudge brownie). I ate salads and steamed vegetables but not in quantities that would counteract the toxins I was consuming. I suffered from plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation that occurs in the tissue on the bottom of the foot. The topic of steroid injections came up in the conversation I had with my doctor regarding the issue, and I wasn’t enthusiastic about pursuing it as a supposed cure. I was about to discover that sugar was an inflammatory food.
The purpose of the program is to eliminate all foods that could possibly cause undesirable reactions (allergic or otherwise) for 30 days. That way, you’ll be able to identify which foods in your diet are sabotaging your body and overall health. Granted, some people could be allergic to items that are acceptable to consume on the Whole30 program, but that won’t be the case for the majority of participants. The rules were simple to follow. (I highly recommend taking a look at them.) Added sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol were on the no list. Eggs, ghee, vinegar, and salt were allowed. My diet consisted of chicken, beef, salmon, eggs, fruit, and a wide variety of vegetables. Coconut milk took the place of cow’s milk. I cooked with ghee and olive oil. I fell in love with almond butter; peanut butter took a back seat. I said goodbye to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, breaded chicken and fish from Trader Joe’s, biscotti, and office catering.
Without added sugar and grains (my two worst offenders), my body started to go into withdrawal. The inextinguishable cravings finally subsided after a few days. Then the magic happened. Whole30 presented me with an opportunity to focus on the types of food that would enhance my health, not subtract from it. I was working full-time, taking a writing course, and a year and a half into life as a wife. I didn’t have an abundance of free time, so I skipped post-work activities (like happy hours and the gym) to rush home and cook. At the end of the 30 day period, my biometric screening indicated that I was the healthiest I’d ever been.
I learned to read nutrition labels more closely. (One serving of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream contains 32g of added sugar, which is 64% of the recommended daily allowance.) My plantar fasciitis disappeared after I eliminated added sugar from my diet. I learned to cook real food, lost interest in the foods I’d cut out, and started to crave vegetables. I had more energy, a lower weight, decreased glucose level, and glowing skin. I took charge of what I ate and learned to say no thank you when offered foods that weren’t for me.
It wasn’t easy to navigate the wide world of options immediately after my first Whole30. I tried to adhere to The Paleo Diet full-time because it resembled Whole30 but with a few more liberties. I found myself floundering without the strict rules I’d become accustomed to. Making Paleo brownies twice a week defeated the purpose of going Paleo in the first place. Before I knew it, I was back to eating quite a bit of the foods from my pre-Whole30 lifestyle. But this time, I possessed the tools to dig myself out of the situation.
Nowadays, I generally adhere to the Whole30 guidelines in my day-to-day diet, but I also enjoy sitting down for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, making non-compliant dishes, and ordering a pizza once in a while. Today is the 13th day of my second official Whole30 (much needed after the holiday season). Recently, I made mayonnaise, ketchup, and ranch dressing for the first time. With my unit on emulsification now complete, I suppose I can say that I’m an advanced home chef.