No added sugar real or artificial, no alcohol, no grains, legumes, dairy, MSG, Carrageenan—basically if it comes in a box don’t eat it. Don't recreate baked goods (even with approved ingredients). Last but not least, do not step on the scale.
This is The Whole30. The Whole30 has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the worst diet two years in a row- and I’ll tell you why.
The goal of The Whole30 is to eliminate certain foods that have the tendency to cause issues such as increased cravings, slower metabolism, digestion and immune issues.
After your 30 days you slowly start to add in food groups one by one to see how they affect your body. Did you notice that eliminating a bowl of ice cream before bed helped you sleep better? Then moving forward, you might adjust this habit in your life.
Yes, you will lose weight, but the idea of this program is to make lifelong changes, not to keep up with the restrictions forever. If you look at it as a diet—then yes, this is a pretty hard diet to maintain—and I can understand the title of “worst diet”. If you look at it as a way to adjust your way of living, eating, and understanding what your body needs you will find that it is a rewarding program.
I started my Whole30 journey last June with my first round. After struggling with some auto-immune issues I wanted to take control of my health and see if I could adjust what I was putting in my body.
After doing extensive research on The Whole30 I dove right in. The most important part of the 30 days is meal prepping. I would spend Sunday’s planning out my week and cooking what I could ahead of time.
The first week was the hardest. I could tell my body was detoxing and by day four I was ready to throw the towel in with frustration. However, after reading other people’s experiences I was right on track. This is called the “Kill Everything Phase” and it was short lived. I also noticed detoxing in other ways- my skin decided to go back to high school and have a massive break out—I was extremely bloated as my body was adjusting to the massive amounts of vegetables I was adding in. I kept telling myself hang in there, this is your body getting rid of the toxins.
By Day 14 I was already starting to see some changes, my skin had gotten itself under control, the bloat had disappeared and I was entering the phased called “Tiger Blood”. Before I started I had read about this magical phase where you have bounds of energy and motivation. Let me tell you, my house was the cleanest it had ever been- even the car and the dog got a wash, I was unstoppable. I became more focused at work, clothes started fitting better and I was overall in a better mood.
Then I hit the last week.
I mean day 27 is just as good as 30 days right?
This is when the temptations kicked back in. I was tired of prepping and cooking. I turned to the internet for help.
One of the best parts about this program is the support you can find online, through blogs, Facebook groups and other outlets you are not alone. I found some tips to get through the last days one of which was hosting a dinner party. I found my energy bounced back up- I wanted to show my friends what I have been doing, how you can have fantastic food even if it sounds like you are limited. It worked, I was back in it for the long haul and finished my 30 days.
The biggest thing the program talks about is Non- Scale Victories (NSV). Non-Scale Victories are the things you notice about your 30 days that has nothing to do with weight.
I found that after completing my 30 days I had tons of Non-Scale Victories. I learned that I actually like cooking, and more importantly that I can actually cook! My clothes felt looser, my mood was better, and workouts were harder.
I did not find that I had any glaring reactions to the different food groups. I did notice that if I ate an extremely heavy carb meal I didn’t feel great the next day, so I try to avoid pasta and heavy meals at night. Overall I lost 6 pounds, but it felt like 20. It showed me that weight was just a number.
In the months after the Whole30 I maintained the meal planning and I was able to generally keep the weight off. I completed another round in January to kick off the new year!
If you are looking to readjust the way you think about food or the way your body reacts to food this would be a great program to check out. It is 30 days of your life, and if you can commit to those 30 days you won’t regret it.
Sample Work Week Meals:
Breakfast—for the week I would make Egg Bakes on Sunday (10 Eggs and whatever veggies/meat you want. Cook the veggies and meat and then mix in with the 10 eggs. Preheat oven to 350 and cook for about 30 minutes…cut into squares and freeze for the week!) I would eat this egg bake with half an avocado and black coffee!
Lunch—for the week my lunches consisted of leftovers from dinner or I would walk to the local grocery store and get a salad from the salad bar—this helped break up the cooking, or feeling that I wasn’t eating out.
Monday- Sweet Potato Chili (Take your favorite chili recipe take out the beans and add in sweet potato chunks! Do the prep work for this on Sunday- chop up all your veggies, etc. If you are a slow cooker fan, throw it all in the slow cooker before work!)
Tuesday- Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce (make sure you find a sauce that is compliant- a lot of sauces have added sugar!)
Wednesday- Roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts (You can roast a whole chicken, or just some chicken breasts!)
Thursday- Turkey burger over salad with sweet potato “fries” and avocado
Friday- Pork and Sauerkraut (this is great for leftovers— I was eating it for breakfast too!)
Julie Wigley is ABC2's Assistant Creative Services Director.