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The Whole30 and How it Totally Changed My Life

The Whole30 and How it Totally Changed My Life

If you checked out my Weight Loss Journey post, you know I reference the Whole30 and how I started it to help relieve some of my "tummy troubles" but also to continue to lose weight. In that post, I briefly mentioned about how it changed my life. This post is going to delve deeper into exactly how I navigated the Whole30 and how it changed my eating habits and my relationship with food. 

I started the Whole30 in June of 2016 after three weeks of traveling around Southeast Asia and eating everything I wanted. Before Asia, I ate pizza and pasta and cookies and chips and junk on junk. Needless to say, my body needed a reset, which is exactly what the Whole30 is. It's essentially pressing the reset button on your health. I read The Whole30 book and It Starts with Food (both written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig) and began following the Whole30 plan. For the first time in two and a half years, I started paying attention to the ingredient label rather than the nutrition label. 

When I first started, I sketched out a very detailed menu plan of what I was planning to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each week for the 30 days. I used the Whole30 book for recipes and food ideas and I also used Pinterest like crazy. I had meal prepped in the past, so that was totally do-able for me. It was the reading of all ingredient labels and realizing that all of my "healthy food" was ladened with artificial ingredients, flavors, colors, and really just unnecessary junk that really threw me for a loop. I just can't believe how much crap is in the food that is being marketed as "healthy." If you talk to me on a daily basis, you know how obsessed I am over ingredients. 

During my first 100 days of Whole30, I was learning what I liked and what I didn't like. What I enjoyed cooking and what I didn't (hello, homemade mayo, ranch, or basically any other homemade sauce concoction.) I ate a lot of butternut squash and sweet potato soup with homemade ghee, Aidell's chicken apple sausage, eggs (scrambled in ghee and hard boiled), chicken, ground beef, potatoes, vegetables, and all kinds of fruit. I really enjoyed the way I was eating and feeling but I still found myself craving sweets as a dessert pretty much everyday. I would satisfy these cravings with Larabars and Rxbars, which did nothing to help my cravings or help me fix my relationship with food. Melissa Hartwig warns about using these types of things as a sweet fix, but I just didn't listen. 

Shrimp with cauliflower mash and ghee.

Shrimp with cauliflower mash and ghee.

Chorizo Taco salad with fresh pico de gallo.  

Chorizo Taco salad with fresh pico de gallo.  

After finishing my first 30 days of Whole30 I felt fantastic! I had lost 15 pounds and felt that Tiger Blood that the Whole30 promises. I was no longer experiencing my 3 PM energy slumps, I was sleeping better, my skin had cleared, and I was much more confident. I decided to continue on whole30 for another 70 days, living a Whole30 lifestyle for 100 days. By day 90, I started to struggle. I was REALLY missing my convenient foods. If you're a teacher or you work in schools, you know that October is like THE WORST and sometimes you just need the comfort that only foods out of a box can provide. With that being said, after day 100, I reintroduced (not well) and promptly began eating all the foods I missed during my Whole30. Looking back on this now, I realized I had a difficult time reintroducing solely because I still viewed food as my comfort rather than feeding my body to nourish it. I hadn't yet learned how to comfort myself in other ways.

After reading Melissa Hartwig's book Food Freedom Forever, I decided to start Whole30 again in January of 2017 with the hopes of really focusing on how I viewed and used food. I ate three meals a day (with some snacking here and there) but I completely cut myself off from the foods I used to satiate my sweet cravings. This definitely took some time but once I stuck with it, I pretty much eliminated my cravings for sweets. I did indulge in some Whole30 compliant snacks occasionally but I wasn't using it to satisfy sweet cravings. I amped up my ingredient label reading and soon started getting really creative with my recipes. I made almond flour pizzas, soups, and stews. I also found recipes that I absolutely loved.

Potato and leek soup with Aidell's chicken apple sausage and onions.  

Potato and leek soup with Aidell's chicken apple sausage and onions.  

Chicken thighs, butternut squash, and W30 compliant bacon--my absolute fave! 

Chicken thighs, butternut squash, and W30 compliant bacon--my absolute fave! 

Almond flour pizza with W30 compliant bacon, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. 

Almond flour pizza with W30 compliant bacon, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. 

My typical Whole30 day looked like this:

Breakfast--three pasture-raised eggs scrambled and cooked in homemade ghee and coffee with Vital Proteins collagen peptides, coconut oil, and homemade cashew milk. 

Lunch--a hamburger with a side of green beans.

Dinner--chicken thighs, butternut squash, bacon and two fried eggs. 

While there were times when I missed the convenience of non-Whole30 compliant meals, I never missed certain foods in particular. With more focus during this round of Whole30, what my body craved drastically changed. I went from craving sweets and junk to craving nutrient dense vegetables and animal proteins.  

About halfway through this round of Whole30, I decided to cut potatoes and fruit from my diet. I wanted to see how cutting these things (while staying 100% Whole30 complaint) affected my body. I felt lighter and less lethargic when I didn't eat potatoes or fruit. I believe the natural sugars in fruit cause me to bloat, so staying away from it just does my body good. I do occasionally eat both but they are not a regular part of my diet. 

I began reintroducing food-groups in mid-May. I followed the Whole30 suggested reintroduction schedule, starting with wine and ending with gluten. I reintroduced a new food group and waited three days in between to monitor any symptoms or reactions to the food group. After a very slow reintroduction, I now know that my body is slightly sensitive to dairy. It makes me gassy (TMI or nah?) and it causes my skin to break out. I'm also sensitive to gluten. It bloats me and make me look 6 months pregnant. Plus, I felt more "out of control" with gluten. There are a lot of bottomless foods that contain gluten--cookies, crackers, etc. and I don't like the thought of indulging in these things and not being able to stop. I don't like the way gluten makes me feel physically or mentally. During my reintroduction, I really paid attention to the way these foods made me feel mentally. 

Cut to today: I am currently rocking my Food Freedom and eating foods that I deem "worth it" and I'm loving it. I would say I'm living a 90% Whole30 lifestyle at this time. 

What I've learned from the Whole30 is this:

  • The foods I eat DIRECTLY relate to how I feel. 100% all the way! (This is my biggest take-away from W30 and what I preach to all of my family and friends and really any unknowing stranger on the street.)  
  • Inflammation can present itself in so many ways.
  • I am in control of my food. 
  • I am in control of how I fuel my body. 
  • My body is a temple and I need to treat it like the QUEEN that it is. 
  • "Healthy food" isn't always healthy.  
  • How to read and navigate ingredient labels.  
  • How to comfort myself during times of stress without using food (hello candle-lit baths, going for a walk, reading a good book.) 
  • I can do anything for 30 days.  

The Whole30 completely changed the way I look at, feel about, and eat food. It changed the way I see myself, and it turned me into a person who analyzes and questions the ingredient labels in our grocery stores. I couldn't be happier. 

If you have questions about the Whole30, please leave a comment or message me under the contact tab. You can also visit www.whole30.com for EVERYTHING you need to know and how to get started. If you decide to do a round of Whole30, please reach out to me! I would love to follow you on your journey. 

Don't forget to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date on all posts!

With love, 

Emily

Helpful Whole30 links/people to follow:

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Packing for International Travel

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