Almost three weeks ago I decided to give Whole30 a go. At the beginning of February I was hospitalized for a partial bowel obstruction that was most likely caused by months of indulging in holiday treats that I am intolerant to… What can I say, I love bread! This was kind of a big wake up call, encouraging me to go back to eating clean, non-inflammatory foods. I’ve heard people speak wonders of how doing Whole30 helped “reset” their digestive system and at the end of the month they were no longer intolerant to certain foods (what I wouldn’t give to be able to eat gluten, dairy, popcorn, and hummus again!). So of course I was like “Heck yes, let’s do this!”
Immediately upon starting, I knew I would have to make a few exceptions to be able to make it through the month. One, I was NOT about to exclude snacks, smoothies, or “healthy” junk food from my diet, because who cares what it represents as long as it’s good for my body?! Second, I decided to allow some coconut sugar, because it’s a paleo sweetener and I needed SOMETHING tasty to get through this. At this point, I have also allowed maple syrup because… waffles. Third, french fries. Because as a college student, it’s nearly impossible to avoid eating out all the time, and french fries, if fried in a decent oil, are technically paleo.
So honestly, my Whole30 isn’t so much Whole30 as it is Paleo30, but the point of this month of clean eating is to reevaluate how you’re eating, what you’re eating, and why you’re eating, which I am still doing. Not to mention I am eating 100% different than I was before this. This has brought me to think more about what I want to put into my body, and I have completely cut out the things that I know are harmful to my body. So here are a few big takeaways I have from these first few weeks of Whole30, and what it means for moving forward.
1.) First and foremost, listen to your body.
If something on this diet isn’t going well, you have to make adjustments. If you know it will not be sustainable, make an exception that will help you through it. I started out this month eating potatoes on potatoes on potatoes. My body was not happy with that, so even though potatoes are Whole30 approved I had to cut them out for a few days. I also knew that I was not going to get all of my calories or greens each day, so even though smoothies and snacking aren’t recommended on the diet, I allowed them so I don’t lose weight. Listen to your body, know what you personally need to be healthy, and make it work for you!
2.) Diets are stupid.
The concept of a diet can be so unhealthy and harmful if not discussed carefully, not to mention, restrictive diets often fail and cause a lot of guilt. I have always hated telling people I’m on a gluten free diet or a dairy free diet because, one, I don’t want to give them the wrong impression, and two, I don’t want to encourage unhealthy diet culture. BUT sometimes people need to go on certain “diets” to be healthy. There are two definitions of diet, one is harmful, the other is more explanatory. Restrictive diets should only ever be used because of an intolerance, allergy, or other medical reason. There’s no need to cut out food just because. SO, I want to make it VERY clear that the reason I am doing Whole30 is to heal my body by cutting out inflammatory foods that cause me pain.
3.) Food makes me cry.
Since being on this diet, I have had to watch my friends and family eat everything I want to eat, from cupcakes to potato chips to pizza. Each time I just wanted to cry and give in and stuff my face, ending my Whole30 experience. But I didn’t. And it felt GOOD. I love food. So much that not having the perfect bedtime snack has the power to bring me to tears. I am an emotional eater. So committing to this month of clean eating has been incredibly difficult, but it is teaching me to approach food a lot differently. There is nothing wrong with eating for pure pleasure, but that shouldn’t always be the case. Food is sustenance. It is meant to grow us, fuel us, and keep us alive. I have learned how to eat nutritious food for the sake of fueling my body, which I haven’t really done before.
4.) I cannot wait to be done with this crazy diet!
This month has been, and will continue to be, very beneficial to my health and body. I know that. But I want to be done. I want to eat dessert, have popcorn at the movies, and not have to avoid the small amount of sugar that is in EVERYTHING. But I will have to continue. I am so far from healing my gut, and the next two weeks will not be enough to make me healthy again. I will have to commit to another few months, if not a lifetime, of avoiding inflammatory foods. I have a lot of goals and dreams and being sick all of the time will not help me achieve them.
Moving forward, I am going to continue eating as clean as possible, but as soon as this Whole30 is over, I am TREATING MYSELF. And then I will continue with a less restrictive diet, but still avoiding inflammatory foods. I know what my body can handle and what it can’t, so I’ll be adding in some things that I know I’m okay with, like rice, quinoa, and natural sugars. And when my friends want to go out, I sure as heck am going to get a GF DF pizza and GF pancakes cause I WANT TO LIVE. But I know I need a lot longer than one month of clean eating to get rid of the inflammation in my body, so I will not be going back to how I used to eat before this.
My advice to anyone wanting to give Whole30 a go is DO IT. But feel free to make a few exceptions and let your body make a few decisions for you. The point is definitely not to make yourself miserable, but to heal your body and feel good. If you want to do Whole30 but can’t imagine giving up so many of your favorites foods, then don’t do it, but try getting rid of a few things that you know your body doesn’t like. Baby steps are great! And remember, the whole point of living healthy and eating clean is to feel good, do the things you want to do, and live a full life filled with love for yourself and others. After all, you have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people.