The Whole30 Diet

The tenth (and last!) installment of the series on eating patterns is about the Whole30 Diet. Last month, we explored the Ketogenic Diet and learned the theory behind putting your body into a state of ketosis by restricting carbohydrates in order to promote quick weight loss. Ranked #38 out of 41 total diets in the U.S News Best Diet Rankings, the Whole30 Program isn’t as much a ‘diet’ as it is a ‘reset.’ The Whole30 program and its co-creater, Melissa Hartwig Urban, were recently featured on the cover of People magazine. Continue reading “The Whole30 Diet”

Whole30: Final Thoughts (Round 2)

Yet again, 3o days have flown by and today is Day 1 of what I–and a whole bunch of other Whole30ers–are calling their ‘Food Freedom Forever.’

That’s the title of Melissa Hartwig, the brains behind the Whole30, newest book.  These last 30 days, scheduled to correspond with the debut of the book (which arrived on my doorstep yesterday, Day 30), were a much-needed dietary ‘reset’ for me, since my vacation/summer eating hadn’t really ended…and it was pushing September.

Let’s back up.

I decided I needed another Whole30 when it became apparent that my trip to France had derailed the new eating habits I’d learned from my first Whole30 in April.  In hindsight, I should have done a Whole15 as soon as I got back (see the new book for more on that) to get back on track.  Well, I didn’t, and spent the rest of the summer feeling out of control with my eating and splurging any time I felt like it.

As September approached, it seemed like as good a month as any (it even has 30 days!) to begin, and recruited a friend to come on this journey with me.  We joined the #SeptemberWhole30, a large group of Whole30ers who participated at the same time in anticipation of the new book.

I struggle to decide if this Whole30 was easier or harder than my first (back in April). On the one hand, I felt like an old pro; I knew the ins and outs of ingredient labels, what’s allowed and not allowed, and what’s easiest to prepare food-wise for a busy week (of which I have many).  On the other hand, this wasn’t a shiny, new Whole30 for me; it was an admission that I hadn’t held onto the healthier habits I’d been so convinced would be life-long at the end of my previous Whole30.  It was harder when eating out this time, and there were a couple slips along the way.

But, here we are on Day 1 of my reintroduction, and all I’ve had off-plan is a little half-and-half in my coffee.  (SO not as good as I thought it would be.  Wondering about my coffee choice, debating whether I want to try 1/2 a tsp of sugar tomorrow morning or not.) I’m also debating about having a small chocolate truffle that’s sitting in my purse this very minute.

I feel fabulous, my clothes fit better and I’d say I have more energy…except that I’m fighting a cold and have been plagued by some recent (and unexplained) insomnia–I blame too much caffeine and stress.  I didn’t weigh myself this morning, but probably will tomorrow.  I’m guessing I lost about 10 pounds, which is how much I lost last time.

I love all the food I ate, and–just like in my initial Whole30: Round 2 post–I plan to continue along this way, doing the ‘Slow Roll’ reintroduction.  It means that instead of doing the structured re-intro, I just eat things as I want them.  Like that chocolate truffle.

What did I miss?  Surprisingly, not a lot.  (Actually, I wasn’t surprised; at the end of my April Whole30, I was shocked at how little I wanted things–like ice cream–that I’d had to give up.)  I did miss cream in my coffee, and started that this morning (see above).  I also missed gum (I eat most of my meals away from home–at work, in the car–and really like having fresh breath) but didn’t resort to actually using the toothbrush I keep in my purse like I did in April.  I get the point about chewing gum and beginning a cascade of hormonal responses preparing the body for digestion, but I think I’ll still chew gum.  I missed popcorn, but I’m not jonesing for a bowl right now or anything. I’m sure I’ll have some soon.  As for dessert and other sweets?  I’ll address those as they come.  Fall goodies?  Oh yes, I’m sure I’ll indulge a bit in pumpkin EVERYTHING, but only when it’s really worth it.  I’ve already stashed a package of pumpkin waffles (I know, how can pre-made waffles qualify as ‘worth it?’  Trust me, these babies are.) in my freezer and plan to have them as part of a balanced meal, with plenty of protein and fat alongside my carby, sugary waffle.  And if those were EGGO waffles, or pop-tarts, or some other less-fabulous-more-mundane food item, it would still be OK.

Why?  Because if it’s worth it to you, that’s all that matters.  I’ve started reading Food Freedom Forever, and it’s phenomenal.  Seriously.  You CAN have ‘food freedom’ and still enjoy your candy/ice cream/brownie/whatever-you-love sometimes, without the guilt it used to bring before.  It’s all about embracing your healthy eating style, allowing yourself that splurge, and–when you’re starting to backslide into old habits–doing a diet ‘rest’ (like the Whole30, or a Whole15 or Whole7) to get back on track.  It’s that simple.

More on Food Freedom Forever once I finish it.  For now, I’m happy to keep eating all the delicious and super healthy food I’ve been eating, and maybe popping a chocolate truffle once in awhile.



Today was Day 1 of my first Whole30.

-no SUGAR (unless it’s in a fruit or vegetable)

-no grains

-no dairy

-no legumes

-no alcohol

*There are a few other things on the ‘no-no’ list, like MSG and sulfites, but suffice it to say it’s basically Paleo on steroids.  Super restrictive.  Probably the only way I’ll curb my sweet tooth.

*Note: As a dietitian, I’m always wary of any eating plan that removes entire food groups.  However, by eating a varied selection of fruits and vegetables, a person can get all the nutrients grains and dairy provide.  Additionally, grains and dairy are often over-consumed in high-calorie, nutrient-poor forms (think crackers and ice cream) by many people, which doesn’t lead to optimum body weight or health.  Therefore, removing those two food groups isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds.  Difficult, yes.  Impossible, no. Lastly, the Whole30 removes these food groups for specific reasons (explained in-depth in the book) and also REINTRODUCES them after 30 days so individuals can assess their impact for themselves. End note.*

I’m super excited, even though I know it’s going to be really difficult sometimes.  A few years ago, I skimmed through Melissa Hartwig’s book, It Starts With Food, and thought ‘hell no!’ and slammed the book shut.

However, a few weeks ago, after seeing it mentioned somewhere on social media, it was all I could think about.  It’s amazing how different seasons of life change our perspectives.

The truth is, I’ve known for awhile now that I’ve needed a change.  A reset.  A shock to my system.  It’s been four years since I’ve been happy with how I look (thanks, school, for negatively impacting my body through stress…NOT), and more recently, I’ve realized how badly I feel when I overeat/eat certain things.  While I eat a lot of healthy foods, I also have about zero willpower when it comes to sweets.

(The recent blog re-org and trip down memory lane while reading past posts reminded me how great I feel when I’m eating better, not to mention how great I looked a few years ago. Sigh.)

These last couple months have been a double-whammy for me in terms of my health and routine.  First, I’ve been experiencing pain in my lower back since January (recently diagnosed as a bulging disc by an MRI) and an inflamed nerve in my elbow, both of which sidelined me from my usual high-intensity workouts and weight-lifting sessions.  (The cause: all that heavy lifting and landscaping last summer.  Boo.) At the same time, I’ve been stressed and splurging on sugary treats even more since my gym time decreased.  Go figure.

All that to say, I’ve been slowly accepting that I need to take charge over my diet in order to feel better–physically and mentally.  On a sleepless night Easter weekend, I read up on the entire Whole30 plan by the light of my phone and committed right then and there that I would start soon.

The next morning I asked Andrew if he’d do the Whole30 with me (lucky for him, he loves meat, hates cheese and beans, doesn’t do a lot of dairy and doesn’t crave sweets) and he agreed.  I bought the books that night and pored over them all Easter weekend, hopefully not at the expense of spending quality time with family–sorry, grandma!

As I said before, I’m really excited, because I know in my heart it’s what I need to get back on track.  I really DO love being healthy and fit, so I need to stop letting sugar win and take back control of what I eat.  In essence, I need to practice what I preach!

For extra motivation, I’m re-reading the Made to Crave devotional, on which I relied heavily a few years ago on a weight-loss journey.

I won’t be blogging what I eat every day throughout this 30-day period (like I did with our Paleo Challenge last year), but I will post some photos on Instagram (username: hollyrlayer).  I will, however, be posting a book review of It Starts With Food (not to mention all the other ‘diet’ books I’ve read) and perhaps some topical posts based on the program, like how to get calcium without eating dairy.  (You can, and it’s easy!)