Whole 30 Wrap-Up
So my Whole 30 is over, and I promised you guys a wrap-up post of how it went. There were pros and cons to my experience, as I’m sure there were with you. I’d love to hear your experiences, thoughts and feelings about it too, so feel free to leave them in the comments!
First off, let me say that I think the Whole 30 is an amazing program that really teaches you mindful eating – especially if you are eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) of over-processed, un-foods that make you sick rather than nourish you, as food should. The following thoughts are strictly my opinion, and I’m not about sugar coating it, so I’m going to give it to you straight. If you have a different opinion, I invite you to start that conversation in the comments – I’d love to hear it!
I’ll start with what I loved about it. It can’t be said enough that the Whole 30 is awesome in the fact that I ate wholesome foods, and avoided additives and ingredients that could be harming my body. There is something so satisfying in knowing that, not to mention the health benefits that come with it. However, I really hated being accountable to the dogma of the program. Holly over at Holly Would If She Could (great blog, you should check it out!) made a statement in one of her posts during her Whole 30 that really resonated with me. “You’re not the boss of me Whole 30!!!!” That statement says everything I feel about the Whole 30.
I hated that the Whole 30 didn’t celebrate food and how delicious it can be, even while being healthy for you. It felt like punishment to me in many ways. “You better not even TRY to make something delicious out of these ingredients or you are weak and a loser and BAD, BAD, BAD!!!!” Ok, what they actually say is this “…Do not try to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold. This means no “Paleo-fying” desserts or junk food – no Paleo pancakes, pizza, brownies or ice cream. Trying to replicate junk food with “technically approved” ingredients misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.” It reads the same to me! That statement assumes that my “old” diet was “unhealthy” (not true) and that the Whole 30 is the only gold standard of healthy eating. That if you can’t cut it, you’re just doomed to horrible health, not to mention a lifetime of shame and ridicule from the superior people that CAN do the Whole 30, and LIKE it.
Now I can appreciate that we should all be embracing whole foods – eating more fruits and veggies, and not living on junk food. But pancakes? Really? What’s the harm in paleo pancakes? And THAT’S where they lost me. Pancakes aren’t evil. Enjoying healthy versions of pancakes on a Saturday morning (or night!), pizza, and even desserts while staying within the guidelines of a plan like the Whole 30 is a best case scenario in my opinion. Because it’s more sustainable long term. It makes you feel good and still have the satisfaction of doing something great for your body. Nobody should feel guilty about enjoying healthy foods, prepared in a delicious way, whether it’s in the form of a pancake or not. Proving to yourself that you CAN find healthy and delicious alternatives to foods you love, and thought you could never give up, is the KEY to making long term changes in my opinion. It’s what I DO people! That’s why I’ve been able to stay low carb and gluten free since January – and why I’m still going strong.
In fact, the Whole 30 actually made it harder for me, because instead of relishing healthy alternatives to the old foods I used to eat, I felt ashamed of even wanting to eat them. That for me (and I suspect some of you) is dangerous territory – it fosters an unhealthy relationship with food that can derail all of your good intentions and cause you to give up and go back to your old way of eating and shame. I gutted it out, but I resented that it wasn’t so much about what I should be eating and drinking, as about what I shouldn’t be. And not even for the right reasons – foods that are otherwise healthy but in principle, according to them, I shouldn’t be enjoying while doing the program. Why? Because. They are bad. The end. I had recipe ideas I wanted to try out that were Whole 30 compliant as far as the ingredients went, but did not adhere to the other rules of self-flagellation and deprivation. It kind of made me mad. Actually it REALLY made me mad! But I didn’t want to lead any of you down the path of Whole 30 mutiny that I was mentally committing, so I remained silent, and my list of recipes to try AFTER the Whole 30 kept growing.
As the month drew to a close, instead of focusing on my improved energy and sense of accomplishment over doing something good for my body, my resentment grew that the Whole 30 WAS the boss of me, and I couldn’t wait for the month to be over. I counted the days, the hours, practically the minutes. And when it was over, had I not already made significant changes in my diet in the past year, I might have totally gone off the wagon and spiraled out of control, stuffing sugar and gluten-laden junk into my pie-hole until I undid all of the good I’d done my body during the Whole 30. In fact it was a close one. I wanted to. Oh how I WANTED TO! I literally dreamed of donuts for days. I craved calzone, pizza, biscuits, etc. But I knew that if I caved in, I would not only undo the good that I did to my body during the month of August by doing the Whole 30, but worse, I’d potentially negate all of the progress I’ve made since January of 2012 when I went low carb and gluten free. I couldn’t let that happen, and that’s what kept me from going off of the rails in a binge. But not everybody has 8 months of change to motivate them. Had I done the Whole 30 to start, coming off of my old diet, I’d probably have exploded like a coiled spring at the end of it, binged and then felt ashamed. Like every other unsustainable crash diet out there that I’ve tried. I’m not calling the Whole 30 a crash diet – but the restrictive, punishing nature of it feels the same – and to people with food issues, I don’t know that it’s healthy mentally. Just my opinion.
I could have quit – because the Whole 30 isn’t technically the boss of me. But I committed to it, and to say I couldn’t finish would be admitting failure, even though I didn’t believe in all of the principles of the program. And maybe I’m just not ready – maybe the fault is with me, and my rebellious attitude, and not the program itself. Either way, I’m proud to say I completed the Whole 30. And physically I felt great once the first week of detox was over. Did it change my life? In some ways. I did the Whole 30 to see if certain foods were triggers for some of my health issues, and I was able to confirm that MSG, sulfites, and artificial sweeteners make my body very unhappy. I proved to myself that I can live without chocolate, cheese, and bourbon for a month – and that it wasn’t that hard. I realized that I can eat fruits and sweet potatoes and still lose weight – I lost 7.5 lbs during the Whole 30 and broke through a plateau that I’d been suffering from by eating MORE carbs. For all of those things I’m grateful. I have no regrets about doing the program, and if you really need some serious retraining in making healthy food choices, then you should definitely try it. I mean that wholeheartedly. Would I do it again? It’s hard to say – I would cut out dairy, alcohol, and the other things that aren’t on the program gladly, but I don’t think I can gulp down the kool-aid this time and say no to foods on principle just because they say so. It’s just not me.
So where do I go from here? The Whole 30 was a perfect transition month for me from a keto-style low carb diet to a Paleo (plus occasional dairy) way of eating that I plan to stick with permanently. I will likely keep eating the way I have been on the Whole 30 except for the occasional addition of chocolate, cheese and bourbon – and I’ll enjoy those things without guilt. I’ll happily resume eating cream cheese pancakes, cheesy cauliflower puree, flax parmesan pizza crust and bourbon chocolate truffles. And I’ll keep working towards better health and fitness – while eating the foods I love, and creating new recipes to share with my peeps (that’s you, if you’re wondering!)
Ok, your turn! Do you agree or disagree? How did your month go? Inquiring minds want to know!