Confession: I’ve never done a Whole30 before this month. This feels like a huge weight off my chest because I’ve been part of the “Paleo-sphere” for years now! I first went Paleo in 2013 after becoming increasingly ill with mystery stomach aches and general unwell feelings for the better part of 2 years. I had tried plenty of diets by this time: vegetarian, vegan and even raw for a short period of time. Sadly, for me, none of these so called “health” diets made me feel any better! I physically felt drained and knew I needed to find a healthier approach to eating STAT!
I had already been eating gluten free for about a year before making the switch. At this point in time I was vegan and gluten-free and felt (and looked!) like I was wasting away. I knew it was time for a change and starting to have dreams about eating meat! It was a crazy experience but I knew that this was my body telling me something it deeply needed. One night, I finally gave in! I had a burger on a gluten free bun and DAYUM was it good. For the first time in what felt like forever, my stomach wasn’t upset! I had been warned that I would feel sick instantly after not eating meat for over a year but the truth is I. FELT. AWESOME. For the first time in a long time.
I was so excited about this new way of eating that I dove right in. No more soy-based “meats” or meat substitutes and welcome back real, juicy meat! I was ecstatic. I researched this new diet feverishly like I had done all my previous attempts to heal my body.
Somehow though, I had missed something crucial. I had missed the whole concept of my relationship with food and how it made me feel at the end of the day. Since a young age, I remember using food as a way to control what was around me and the situations I’m in. I’m a bit (read: A LOT) of a rebel and tend to feel out of control if I feel like I’m not in control. But food was always something I could control. By doing this, I turned a healthful way of eating and lifestyle back into a “diet”.
Let’s get one thing straight… A healthy lifestyle and way of eating is something that feels sustainable. Something you could think to yourself every morning after waking up and say “Yeah, I could live this way for the rest of my life.” Something that celebrates the little victories and brings you closer, every day, to overall health! It doesn’t revolve around a scale or body image. That is a way of living!
A diet, on the other hand, is something with a goal and an end result. It is not a sustainable way of living full of deprivation that can foster negative thoughts and a negative relationship with food. Diets can include vilifying certain foods and depriving yourself of foods that will “make you feel good.” Diets don’t examine the relationship between you and foods that you crave or why you crave them.
Which brings us all the way back around to the Whole30. After following creator and headmistress (self-titled) Melissa Hartwig on Instagram a few months back I felt like I had been in a cave and finally saw the light! She offered the exact fresh approach I had needed to reexamine my relationship with food, and ultimately, with myself. I love her no bullshit approach to negativity and she fearlessly supports finding your own sense of “Food Freedom.”
Whoa. What? I can have freedom from food? That blew my mind! After excitedly buying the aptly titled book, I dove in headfirst. I so badly wanted this concept and asked myself “what did I need to do to achieve this goal?!” I came to the conclusion quickly that I would need to embark on a long, and possibly very difficult, journey to reexamine and rekindle my relationship with food. I wanted to deconstruct my cravings and be able to rid myself of anxiety over food and be able to relax and trust myself and my gut that the decisions I make every day lead me to greater health in the long run! No more second guessing every single decision and item of food that goes into my mouth.
I no longer wanted to feel haunted by the chocolate bar in the cupboard that screamed “EAT ME!” or guilty about eating a cookie I had baked. I was ready for something new: self love and confidence in my daily decisions and choices.
So, on January 1, I started my journey with thousands of others. Today is Day 16 and I can’t begin to explain the change I feel in a little over two weeks.
Unfamiliar with Whole30? Here is a great rundown of the program: https://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/
Basically: whole, unprocessed foods for 30 days. This means no grains, no dairy, no sugar and no alcohol. Sound challenging? I won’t lie, I thought eating a mostly Paleo diet would prepare me for this challenge quite nicely, but I was wrong! I have since found that I was consuming quite a lot of added sugar, and that yes, it is quite addicting! Treats add up over the holidays and I really love to bake so rethinking my relationship and reliance on the quick energy burst and to how sugar makes me feel has been REAL the last two weeks.
I’ll do a full recap at the end of my Whole30. The program is set at 30 days of clean eating with a reintroduction period at the end. I am incredibly excited for the reintroduction period to add back in the foods I’ve eliminated (eggs, peanuts, nuts and sugar!) and see how I feel with them back in my body.
Thank you for letting me share part of my story with you! Have you tried a Whole30 before or have a desire to work on your relationship around and with food? Let me know!!