As we speak Ethan and I are doing the Whole30. We’re halfway through the 30-day program. The really, really hard 30-day program. Now, in a perfect world, Whole30 wouldn’t be hard. But we live in a world where McDonald’s sausage biscuits are delicious so, unfortunately, it is.
What is Whole30, why is it hard and if it’s so hard why would you do it? All excellent questions.
What is Whole30?
The way I like to explain Whole30 – to those inquiring minds who have questioned me over the last 15 days – is by describing it as a 30 day long elimination of everything you usually eat that could possibly be causing you diet-related ailments.
This includes (but is not limited to) dairy, grains, beans, alcohol, baked goods or “treats,” most additives and sweet, sweet sugar in all its forms. And, instead of eating those things, you fill up half your plate with vegetables three times a day and eat plenty of healthy proteins, fats and fruit.
Then, after the 30 days of eating this way are up (and yes, it will end), you slowly reintroduce each of those no-no food groups back into your diet to see how those foods affect you now.
It’s like if you could reset your body and create a blank slate on which to pour milk and then learn, “Wow, my body really does not respond well to dairy.”
Why is Whole30 hard?
So, why is it hard? It is hard because you can’t put creamer and sugar in your coffee in the morning. It is hard because you can’t eat a sandwich at lunch. It is hard because you can’t have spaghetti for dinner. It is hard because you can’t have even one little cookie for dessert. It is hard because you can’t just grab something to eat without thinking. It’s hard because you are constantly cooking your own food to make sure everything is compliant.
And it is hard because we as a people have become so used to these foods, so in love with these foods, that we can’t even imagine not eating them for 30 days. And I’ve done it for 15 and let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a dream that I ordered a pizza without cheese because I thought that would only be breaking the rules a “little.” Oh ya, you get food dreams and they haunt you with their deliciousness when you wake up.
So you didn’t miss that part where I said “rules” right? Ya, so the program, developed by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig back in 2009, doesn’t allow for any cheats, slip ups, or exceptions. If you eat something that isn’t compliant, you go straight back to Day 1. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
You also can’t step on the scale, take body measurements, or count calories for the duration of the program. That one has been a hard one for me, as I’m a little compulsive when it comes to weighing myself and using an app to calculate my calorie intake. Seriously, Ethan had to hide the scale. Cause if you break that rule, you gotta go back to the beginning.
Now this part of the program isn’t meant to be a “shame on you” kinda thing. It is a necessary part of the program because the program won’t work if you cheat. When you cheat, you are cheating yourself out of the results of a full 30-day elimination. So, if you eat a donut on Day 10 you won’t have eliminated processed sugar from your diet for 30 days. So you can’t really call it a WHOLE 30, can you?
Why are we doing the Whole30?
So why the hell are we doing this? Well, I wanted to do it because I have 1) horrible acid reflux, 2) a terrible relationship with comfort foods, and 3) believe it or not, a history of eating disorders. Ya that last one is the biggest reason, and the most private.
So I wanted to see if trying this plan would help me reset my relationship with food in more ways than one. I want to see if it will help me pinpoint exactly what foods upset my stomach. I don’t want that pint of Ben and Jerry’s to have control over me when I’m sad or stressed. And I don’t want to be obsessed with my weight or physical appearance every day.
Now, Whole30 did a recent study that showed that 96 percent of people who do the program lose weight/and or improve their body composition. And I hope to drop a few pounds.
But I am in this for a lot more than that. And that is why Ethan is here too. He knows how important this is to me, and God love him for agreeing to give up all of those little joys in life for 30 days to do this with me (granted we’ve had steak 4 times in a little over two weeks, so he hasn’t had it as hard).
I will give a final recap of how we did our Whole30 from start to finish at the end of our journey, but for now let me just say that I, a food studies major, have never cooked more consistently in my life. We have never had grocery cashiers comment on how healthy we must be. Oh, and because of all the food shopping and cooking, this: