This past Friday marked day 30 of my Whole 30. It took me months to decide to do it. The first few days I felt like I was in a fog but then all was well. I never felt angry with the world on days 3 and 4 but I also don't think I experienced huge energy gains the last couple of weeks the way they said. However, I am thinking more clearly.
I am in the middle of the 10 day reintroduction phase but so many people have asked me how it went, I thought I'd take the time to update you now.
Whole 30 is a nutritional reset/elimination diet: no sugar, dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, or alcohol. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig started Whole 30 (and now have Whole 9 for those who make it a lifestyle change). If you're interested in learning more about the hows and whys, I recommend their website and especially their book It Starts With Food. The book sealed the deal for me.
The last several years, I've read up on the health of the American diet and lack thereof and have changed many of my eating habits as a result. (Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma were life-changing.) The Hartwigs take it a step further, however. They go category by category and discuss how each banned food item negatively impacts our body.
Because I've already made many changes to my diet, Whole 30 wasn't as big of a shock to my system. But it was still a definite change, as I regularly partook of each of those categories.
I was skeptical going in to it and in some ways, I still am. It's hard to look at foods like grains and legumes that have been staple foods for centuries and believe they could be harmful. The Hartwigs say many of these food items were eaten for survival but most of us don't eat for survival any more and we're affected differently as a result.
Regardless of the information presented, the Hartwigs say that our bodies are the experts. A nutritional reset allows us to hear what our bodies are saying. From there, we can decide what to add back in.
My body has definitely been talking.
30 days later, I'm a brand new woman. If you remember, I decided to do it because of my lifelong eczema and sleep troubles. The last two weeks of the program, I've never slept so well. There were a few nights where I woke up once but the other dozen were interruption-free. I would have been fine with only one interruption a night- a vast improvement from my usual sleep patterns. To go to sleep and not wake up until morning? Amazing.
In those same two weeks, I either scratched my legs once per night or not at all. This has never happened. The "one scratch" nights were a result of figuring that almonds and walnuts are now my enemies or because of the cold, dry weather. Humidifier aside, there's no way around seasonal change-induced eczema but even this is better managed because of the dietary changes.
Whether I'm sleeping better because of the diet changes or my eczema is under control thus allowing me to sleep better, I'll take it. I feel so well rested. I haven't used an alarm clock in a couple of weeks now. I may wake up at 6:30 but I'm still not a morning person. I do love how much I can get done before work, however.
I've created healthier habits. I eat breakfast every day. I cut out snacking- reaching for a piece of fruit, if I absolutely had to have something. I still have cravings but I also have self-control to ignore them. My meals are way more balanced, composed of protein, produce, and healthy fats.
Toward the end of the 30 days, I was a bit bored with my meal options. It takes more time to prepare meals, mostly because I can't rely on quick fixes like pasta and rice. It was also frustrating to see just how often gluten, corn, soy, and sugar showed up in unlikely places.
I feel amazing but I'm also ready to figure out the culprits.
Many of my friends are Whole 30 evangelists. I can't say that I am. It takes a lot of work and determination. If you have a health problem, I would highly recommend you give it a shot. After all, anyone can do anything for 30 days. But if you're looking to eat healthier or lose weight, there are other ways of doing it. Whole 30 is intense.
I'm glad I did it, without a doubt. I just hope it doesn't mean bidding gluten and dairy adieu forever. Or, let's be honest, mostly forever. There's no way I'm never eating brie and French bread again.
(Much gratitude to my friend Jen who answered my many questions, taught me how to make homemade mayonnaise, and generally cheered me on.)
Update: Dairy is the culprit! Everything else has been fine.
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