Updated: Mar 10, 2020
As I sat in the car on our 11 hour drive back to North Carolina from Buffalo after the Christmas week, I thought about what kind of 2-3 day detox I was going to do to get rid of the bloat and sick feeling I had from way overindulging on cookies and other Christmas treats. You know, the foods that taste really good but make you feel really bad? Yea, I ate a whole lot of those over the week I spent at my sisters. We ate it all - pizza, chicken wings, cookies, dips, etc...the list goes on! Keep in mind, on a daily basis I don't eat any of these foods, because I know they make me feel like crap.
I am all about allowing yourself some treats as long as you stick to healthy habits the majority of the time, but like anyone else sometimes I overdo it.
Enter the Whole30. I had heard about the Whole30 for years, and always pushed the idea out of my mind because it involved serious restriction and elimination of entire food groups, which I knew was dangerous for someone with a history of disordered eating. I typically HATE diets, or the version of them in in the most traditional sense, lasting for a period of time, serving as a"quick fix" with no real plan after day #__. I cringe at the mere mention of them, because I have seen it time and time again. The majority of the time people are set up to fail after 10/20/90 days, and end up back in the vicious "diet" cycle trap. How do I know? Ive been there and tried many of them myself! Luckily that stopped years ago, but I continue to watch the people around me do it and it makes me sad.
But after a lot of research, I realized this seemed different. There was evidence that this plan improved more than your weight (it actually isn't advertised as a "weight loss" plan at all) but your relationship with food and a variety of medical conditions including anxiety and depression. It was meant to help you identify foods or food groups that brought on cravings or sensitivities, which I never really explored. I loved that its purpose was to take a deeper look at why, when and what you were eating. It was exactly what I needed.
Why The Whole30
The mental health benefits. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for several years, and after recently going off my medication and going through some BIG life changes (leaving my job, moving from Buffalo to NC, being a SAHM while I career search) and it has been HARD. There is research that this plan (and the paleo diet in general) can drastically improve mental health conditions, including these.
A Real Mind/Body Reset. While "clean eating" is amazing, and I LOVE real, wholesome food, sometimes my "treating" can get a little out of control and I need a reset. There are weeks where I find myself in the kitchen making a few too many "clean" concoctions (thanks instagram!) that I don't really need.
Relationship with Food. Although I have been able to reach some serious health goals and clean up my overall diet, I know that I don't always have the healthiest relationship with food. I have a sweet tooth, nightly cravings and I eat when I'm not hungry. Sometimes, I still feel a little "out of control" around food. This program is shown to improve your psychological approach to when and why you eat, which could be a huge benefit for me.
Brain Fog and Allergies. Recently I have been noticing increased "brain fog" or extreme lack of mental clarity after I eat. I have also noticed shortness of breath and itchiness in my throat after certain meals. The purpose of this plan is to find triggers and sensitivities, so I am hoping it may help me figure out the root cause of this.
One reason I did not start the Whole30...for weight loss! I completely decided to embark on this journey for the purpose listed above.
My Biggest Challenges
No legumes. I was eating quite a few peas, beans (I love hummus and crispy chickpeas) and peanuts, not to mention peanut butter. I was also starting almost every morning with a green protein smoothie, which included pea protein and peanut butter.
No dairy. While I have never been a big cheese eater, I do occasionally have cheese and crackers, goat cheese and cream in my coffee EVERY day. Hands down, this was going to be the hardest.
No sugar. When they say no sugar, they mean it, in any form, even the natural or artificial versions. This was also especially hard for me because I had coconut sugar in my coffee EVERY morning, love cappuccinos and admittedly made way to many "clean" baked goods with it too many times a week.
No Snacking and Stop Eating Hours Before Dinner. Do I need to explain this? :) This is a big one for me and a large part of why I wanted to embark on this journey. Sometimes I feel like my meals have no beginning or end, and as long as the food is clean I can continue to eat, or snack alllll day long. Not saying this is good or bad, but I wanted to explore it a bit more. Would I feel better with 3 solid substantial meals and only eating when I was hungry? We will see!
So thats it! I will share my progress and experience as I go along. Please feel free to ask questions, share tips or thoughts!