Over Christmas my sister (Healthy, Happy Shannon) asked if I wanted to join her in doing a Whole 30 (it's her second!). I said no at first - give up DAIRY?! absolutely no processed foods? NO. MORE. CHOCOLATE?!!! (the hubby gave me a *crap-ton* of chocolate for Christmas)... then I decided - why not? I do love a good challenge after all! Now that we're half way through this, & a lot of friends have asked about what it is & whether they should do it too, I thought I'd share my experience.
First of all, the shortened version of the rules are:
#1 - EAT REAL FOOD.
No sugar & no sugar substitutes, even if they're Paleo approved. (So no honey or maple syrup even!)
No alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no diary, no white potatoes.
No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites.
No Paleo-ifying foods (no banana ice cream, no flourless brownies, no coconut flour baked goods, etc).
You can read the specifics here along with the reasoning behind them.
I wish I recalled better (or kept a journal) how each day went early on because I know there were some diet related issues happening here & there, but I forget all the specifics now. Day 1 & day 2 were no big deal really. Except for the part where I couldn't have creamer in my coffee! I also had to catch myself before doing stuff like licking peanut butter off my hands after making the boys' sandwiches, or eating the leftover crust. Around day 6 or 7 I wanted to "kill all the things!", it was a really rough day! That was followed by a couple of days of exhaustion (I actually fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon one day, while the boys ran around doing who-knows-what. Oops.). On day 12 I wasn't hungry. I didn't understand this one, it was really weird!!! I am always hungry! Now, on day 16, I'm not seeing what the big deal is about this whole deal. Let's see if that lasts... (For more on what to expect, check out this timeline.)
I'm a little shocked to say it, but at this point I really don't have any cravings anymore. I also don't generally want to eat outside of the 3 main meals every day (which is what is recommended on the W30, no/little snacking). I've grown to love coffee with just a little coconut milk. No sugar, no dairy, and I'd probably be okay with just drinking it black if that's all I had. :o I feel AMAZING. When someone sits in front of me & eats *insert anything yummy but not W30 approved* I really have no desire for it. (Whereas most "diets" make you go crazy wanting whatever it is.) I have lots more energy & feel like I'm getting so much more stuff done these days! (Granted, I also started working out regularly again, which helps a lot with energy & mood levels, so I suppose it's hard to say if it's the W30 or not.) I feel happier & more relaxed. I'm sleeping better (but that's also thanks to 2 kids who are *finally* giving their mommy a break!). I think my biggest temptation so far has been to get on the scale. I'm not really even doing this for weight loss (though I do hope it's a side effect ;)), but I'm super curious! I'm not sure if W30 has done anything to clear my skin (that seems to be a big deal to a lot of people), but I am already aware that gluten causes my skin to break out. Maybe this is how some people learn that? I don't feel like my clothes are any looser, but I haven't worn much besides workout clothes & pajamas (sad, huh?), so who knows? I'm learning to appreciate food in a new way, and learning that a lot of the crap I usually eat isn't really necessary. I'm satisfied & enjoying what I'm eating (though all the eggs in the morning do get old), and I don't feel like I'm missing a thing.
I don't think this has been as challenging for me as it is for some people because it's really not all that different than my typical diet. I eat a gluten free diet anyway & I don't eat tons of processed food generally. I do usually eat a lot of dairy - I mean A LOT - so that's my biggest challenge really. There is also more sugar in my diet than I really need (though not as much as a typical American consumes), and I am learning that I do eat out of habit/boredom some, which I'm not doing now. I do know I'm a stress/comfort eater, so I'm glad I haven't had a day that really drove me to wanting to fill that need. Though, again, my mood is so much happier that I'm avoiding typical stressors just by having a more positive attitude. It's also not as challenging for me as for some people because I am lucky enough to be a very disciplined person (when I want to be). If I say I'm going to do something - especially if I make it public knowledge - I do it. I think it's one of my better traits.
As of right now, I'm not sure what my next step will be after the 30 days are up. I will say, I've been thinking of bubble tea a lot (not quite "craving" it, but it's floating in my head a lot). I think I may have to have one on day 31 (and, wow, I don't think I've had any since we move to Houston!), but there's nothing else I feel like I'm just really wanting to indulge in. I feel like "rewarding" myself on day 31 by eating a bunch of crap would be rather silly. Right now I feel like I may continue on a mostly Paleo diet going forward. Probably not quite so strict (I may lick the peanut butter off my fingers again & possibly go out to eat from time to time), but eating REAL FOOD feels right. I'm also kinda considering a little less meat in my life again... but I'm not sure I want to jump back into vegetarianism again just yet. I may challenge myself a little with a vegan/Paleo diet attempt even - but not right away.
So, there are my thoughts on this Whole 30 thing so far. I do think it's a great thing to try. If you have any amount of desire to see what it's about, just do it. It's ONLY 30 days. I know that seems hard, but it's really not! I know what you're thinking... keep in mind, that while I am doing this, no-one else in my family is. I totally get that it's hard to feed yourself in this way when the rest of your family is wanting to eat differently, but it's totally possible. Also, I've already found myself considering how I can slowly sneak the rest of the family (well, the kids at least) over to a diet more like this. Yep, 16 days in I'm already realizing how beneficial it would be for all of us. :)