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.


Book Review: It Starts with Food

It Starts with Food
By Dallas & Melissa Hartwig
(Victory Belt Publishing, 2012)
Reviewed by Holly R. Layer, RD


Dallas and Melissa Hartwig debuted their ‘Whole30’ program in 2009, after they themselves ‘changed their lives in 30 days’ after adopting a strict Paleo diet, “no cheats, no slips.” Each chapter begins with a different Wholer30er’s testimonial of how the program has done everything from improving skin to controlling blood sugar to incredible weight loss, and everything in between. The Hartwigs base their approach on four ‘good food’ standards: that food should promote a healthy psychological response, a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut, and support immune function and minimize inflammation. According to the book, the program is based on scientific research (references are in the back), clinical experience (the ‘tens of thousands’ Whole30ers) and self-experimentation (the reader’s own findings while doing the program).

 Synopsis of Diet Plan:

The Whole30 program is a Paleo eating pattern ‘on steroids.’ In addition to the usual Paleo no-no’s (grains, legumes, dairy), the Hartwigs also prohibit soy, alcohol, seed oils, artificial and added sugars, nor can you recreate ‘junk food’ with allowed ingredients. Weighing yourself is also not allowed, as the Hartwigs insist that the program is not for weight loss, but for becoming healthier and weighing oneself may cause participants to become discouraged if the result is not as they expected. Participants CAN eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit and natural fats; a recommended meal is made up of one to two ‘fistfuls’ of protein and a plateful of vegetables with a fat source, like avocado. Participants are expected to follow the rules even when eating at restaurants, which can be difficult.

The Hartwigs claim that much of our poor health is due to our food choices, especially that of sugar, which breaks all of their ‘good food’ standards by promoting overconsumption of certain foods, a hormonal imbalance, poor gut health and inflammation. Their program is an elimination diet of sorts, complete with a 10-day reintroduction period in order to assess your body’s response to the offending foods.

Nutritional Pros and Cons:

While the Whole30 program eliminates not one, but two food groups, there is a lot to like. First, it’s meant to be a short-term ‘reset’ to one’s diet by focusing on the most nutritious foods, despite the fact that the ‘diet’ itself is sustainable. Second, the program addresses readers’ addictions to problematic foods, even if those foods are ‘approved’ items. Third, the program promotes label reading and awareness of ingredients, a skill useful to anyone trying to eat healthily. Lastly, there are no complicated food lists of specific types of meats, fruits or vegetables. With very few exceptions all fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs are allowed, and there is no need to calorie-count. Recommended fat sources include coconut and olive oils, nuts, seeds and avocados. Unfortunately, the program’s ‘all or nothing’ approach and extreme restrictions may turn off many readers.

The Hartwigs’ main point is to get readers to eat only super-healthy food for 30 days; they see grains, dairy and legumes as ‘crowding out’ healthier options on your plate. They also promote the idea that gluten contributes to ‘leaky gut,’ and that legumes are poorly digested, leading to inappropriate immune responses, neither of which are supported by a preponderance of research. One of the reasons meat, seafood and eggs are recommended is that they are a complete protein (meaning they provide all the essential amino acids in the correct proportions), as well as being a good source of heme iron and B vitamins. Additionally, studies show that calcium from kale, greens, broccoli, bone broth, salmon, almonds, walnuts, oysters is better absorbed than calcium from milk.

 Bottom Line:

The Whole30 isn’t for appropriate for many readers due to its restrictive nature, but the structure/challenge may appeal to others looking for or willing to make drastic changes. Because we can get everything we need nutritionally from meat, eggs, vegetables and fruit, the diet is appropriate for either a short-term reset or a longer-term eating pattern. By addressing readers’ unhealthy relationships with food and teaching label reading, the program empowers participants in a way other ‘diets’ do not.   Additionally, the Whole30 program goes a step further by using online and social media resources to provide participants with support during a program. While it’s solidly in the ‘fad diet’ realm, participating in a Whole30 program once (or once a year) can help readers achieve long-term health and fitness goals and break bad food habits.

The book includes a 25-page Appendix of recipes, including ‘master’ recipes for each type of protein, as well as multiple variations for each.








Whole30: Round 2

Today I started another Whole30, this time as part of a larger group doing what we’re calling the #SeptemberWhole30, which is in honor of Whole30 founder and author Melissa Hartwig’s newest book, Food Freedom Forever, which will be released Oct. 4, our day 30. 

After having such a great experience with my April Whole30, (yet feeling like I fell back into my old habits this summer after our vacation in France) I was already toying with the idea of doing another Whole30 in September when I found out about a group starting Sep 5.

So, of course, I jumped right on board. I’d already pre-ordered my copy of the new book, and I was looking for more structure to get my diet back on track. In fact, I’m anticipating doing more than a Whole30, perhaps a Whole45 or Whole60. (Or, basically ‘Whole’ but adding half-and-half to my coffee after 30 days or something.). I do best with structure in all areas of my life–exercise, schedule, work–why not maintain structure long-term? 

After a slightly hectic day trying to get some food prepped and mayo made, I’m happy to report that I’ve had some great meals today and will eat well all week! I’m not planning to blog every day or week with photos of my meals, but I’ll share some things here and there. Be sure to follow me on social media to see what I’m enjoying this month!