I’ve known about the Whole30 program for a few years. I remember reading their first book in 2014 “It Starts With Food” and having mixed emotions. At first, I loved learning the science behind their nutrition program, but it was hard not to get a little defensive because many of the foods they said weren’t ideal were in my diet regularly. I had thoughts like, “well, that’s not realistic for me. I can’t eliminate Greek yogurt forever.” I also had a hard time relating to the authors because they never talked about what high calorie/less nutrient foods they consumed from time to time. But, my thoughts completely changed after their second book was released “The Whole30” and Melissa’s third book “Food Freedom Forever” because they started feeling relatable! Aw, Melissa loves Cadbury eggs and cupcakes AND she eats them? Ok, now I’m listening!
I’ve done two short versions of the Whole30 before and felt a big difference in my body. I could work 12+ hours but still have energy to go to the gym afterwards. I learned what foods I could live without because they affected my body in a noticeable way. Most of all, I slayed my sweet tooth.
So, after the holidays, I wanted to participate in the official “January Whole30” to feel involved in their community and challenge myself to complete a full 30 days of the program. Luckily, I found a friend who was also doing it, so it’s been fun to support each other.
Since I’ve done two short versions in the past, there wasn’t a lot of shock to my routine. I had already taken out a few things of my regular meals (protein bars, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils) Sometimes I indulge in bread, pasta, peanut butter or cheese, but most likely I’m eating something I enjoy or am at a favorite restaurant.
January Whole30: There were a few things I had to take a break from in my weekly routine including the following:
- Half & Half in my coffee – it wasn’t much since I only drink 8 oz. a day, but 1.5 TB was removed (daily)
- 1 Tsp sugar in my coffee (daily)
- Plain Rice Cakes (about 3x a week)
- Brown or White Rice (about once a week)
- Tillamook Cheese (about once a week)
- Going out to a favorite restaurant 1-2x a week (pizza, Thai, Mexican, burger)
- 1-2 Desserts a week (sometimes it would be a few squares of chocolate and other times it would be a slice of cake or cookie.)
January Whole30 Replacements
I went 28 years of not being a coffee drinker until I took a trip to Vienna, Austria. The coffee was amazing and I wanted to continue to enjoy it once I returned home. So, we bought a nice espresso machine and my little cup of Joe brings me joy in the morning.
Thanks to Nutritiously Rooted, I was given the tip to use coconut oil for a dairy-free ‘cream’ option. I put maybe ½ tsp of coconut oil into my 8 oz. coffee and blend it with a blender. Delicious coffee! It has a subtle sweetness & creaminess.
15 Reason Why I Believe the Whole30 Program is The Best Nutrition Available
- It’s free!
- Like many programs out there, you have to invest in their products. Whether it’s breakfast/snack/lunch/dinners you eat every day, meal replacement shakes/bars, energy drinks, cleanses or supplements, most of the time you hear they feel great because they use their products. The Whole30 is just food and their entire program is free on their website. Although the books are a great resource, they are not necessary to be successful.
- You feel amazing from just food (hence their first book, “It Starts with Food!”)
- Again, no magic here. Just food. It’s amazing how hard work and dedication towards eating the right foods can transform so much in your mind and body.
- You feel way more than willpower during and after the program (MY FAVORITE REASON)
- Your willpower will get stronger the more you test it. But sometimes testing your willpower leaves you with a feeling of being deprived. It’s like you secretly want it, but are choosing to not indulge. The Whole30 gave me a whole new perspective on my favorite foods. When normally I would jump to get a Dairy Queen cone, PCC cookie, or any homemade dessert, after completing the Whole30, I didn’t have the same feeling around them. Instead of feeling like “YES! GOTTA have it now!” I had thoughts like, “do I really want it?” Throughout the program, I did have thoughts that specific foods like pizza, cookies or nachos sounded good to eat, but those feelings were never strong enough to actually eat it. I was even around pizza, homemade cookies and ice cream during my Whole30, but felt at peace around them and not deprived. Even as I was approaching my last few days of the Whole30, I wasn’t counting down the days until I could eat cookies, pizza or dessert again. These are feelings I never thought would exist for me. I’m aware that this may change months down the road, but I know I can always resort back to a Whole30 when I feel I’m craving sugar more than I want to.
- You learn what works for you.
- After doing abbreviated versions twice, I learned I feel best when I don’t eat beans, cottage cheese, protein bars, Greek yogurt, etc. Even though rice & oatmeal are excluded in their program, I have found I don’t notice a difference in my body when I eat it, but they aren’t a regular item in my meal plans anymore. Sometimes I can have a little cheese and be fine, but if I have too much, I notice a negative impact. Same with bread. A little is fine, but several slices makes me feel different.
- Taste buds are transformed (2nd Favorite Reason)
- Since you do not consume any added sugar or artificial sugar, simple things like strawberries taste really sweet. Your taste buds transform! My new cup of coffee tastes sweet without sugar and I can taste the ingredients in every meal. A few years ago, I remember eating my favorite go-to protein bar after taking a six week break. It didn’t even taste good and I haven’t gone back since. Another positive with having your taste buds transform: you need less of your favorite sweet treats. You are simply satisfied with less.
- It changes your relationship with food.
- Not only did it help me slay my weekly sweet tooth, but I recognized eating habits with other areas of my life. If I was feeling upset, it was natural to comfort those feelings with something sweet. Many people learn how to re-work their eating habits so they aren’t emotionally eating. For example, when the Seahawks lost versus the Falcons on 1/14, I wanted a cookie. But, those feelings were stemming from my sad mood vs. actually wanting a cookie.
- Your energy skyrockets naturally.
- My energy stayed steady all day throughout most of the program. No crashes. No naps. No wanting to skip a workout because I was tired. I had a few days that didn’t feel like my energy was through the roof, but I could easily pinpoint why.
- You elevate your cooking skills.
- Since you are eating real food 24/7, you get lots of practice preparing meals and it’s actually fun. Your confidence in the kitchen increases the more you experiment with new recipes.
- Your skin glows.
- I do my best to take care of my skin by washing my face every night and moisturizing twice daily, but I felt like I had a better glow compared to my normal.
- It doesn’t feel like a diet.
- Could I follow the Whole30 diet forever? If I wanted to. I know there will be moments when foods that have sugar, gluten, dairy, etc. will come up, but I can choose if I want to indulge. What I can do forever is follow the Whole30 90% of the time. Every meal I cook from home (but one) follows the Whole30 and is very satisfying! With practice, I also know how to eat out at restaurants while still following the Whole30 plan.
- Weight Loss/Fat Loss.
- I noticed throughout the program that my body felt firmer, especially in my arms & legs. I lost six pounds. This is a nice perk and can keep your motivation high to continue but it’s definitely not my favorite reason why I love the Whole30.
- You become a leader to others.
- Since I have practicing cooking mostly Whole30 meals at home for a few years, I have found I’ve inspired others along the way. Whether it’s sharing a go-to recipe with my sister or cooking for others, people start to pay attention. My father-in-law actually lived with us for 10 months and he has even told us he eats way more vegetables now (living on his own) because of our cooking.
- Recipe library!
- This is another great reason why I love the Whole30, new recipes! When you are sick of your healthy go-to recipes, I find myself wanting comfort food. The Whole30 allowed me to add more recipes to my go-to dinner menu. Eggs mildly bother my throat so I can’t eat them too often. This forced me to find new breakfast foods and it was a fun experience. Plus, it’s something I can easily continue post Whole30. I did buy their cookbook and it’s been fun to experiment with recipes. I made a homemade mayo, which I really liked and also found new recipes that I can make every month.
- Tough love!
- Melissa Hartwig is famous for her tough love talk to the Whole30 community and I couldn’t be more thankful. I always keep her in mind when it comes to taming my sugar dragon. Throughout the beginning of my Whole30 this month, I had thoughts like “Am I wanting to eat fruit because I want something sweet?” and “Is this going to tame my sugar dragon?”
- Nutrition Label King/Queen.
- The good thing about reading labels with everything you buy is eventually you don’t have to do it anymore. You form a habit (and remember) what items don’t have added sugar, carrageenan, or other non-compliant ingredients. Days before starting my Whole30 journey, I did notice I was buying some items that weren’t Whole30 compliant like deli ham and sausages, but it gave me that awareness. After finding new foods, I can easily replace them with better options.
Bonus: My husband loved every single Whole30 meal I made. He did not do a Whole30 with me, but he enjoyed the meals and even commented that he feels best when he eats that way. For those of you worried that your family members won’t do the program with you, it’s totally okay if they don’t. I made my Whole30 meals but would add items like bread, rice, tortillas, sour cream, etc to many of his meals. He did enjoy official Whole30 meals too. It’s a win for me and him.
Hopefully this blog post gave you more insight on my Top 15 “wins” with the Whole30 program. If you’re having feelings that this program is too strict, just try it. How you feel after completing the program is worth it!
Here is an example of some of my meals. Some are super simple while others take 30 minutes or less.