I was still pregnant when I decided my husband and I would do a Whole30 after the baby came. I think he only agreed because challenging any idea your very pregnant wife has is dangerous, but he agreed nonetheless. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best timing. New baby, crazy hormones, postpartum depression; let’s also eliminate foods that are generally comforting. What could possibly go wrong?
I didn’t recognize it at the time, but the Whole30 was step one on my journey to better. In many ways, it was also the easiest step. Sure, there were a lot of rules, but this didn’t require the soul-searching that so many of my other changes did. Plus, I am really good at following rules, so I didn’t see that as a hardship.
If you are unfamiliar with the Whole30, the first thing you need to know is it is NOT a weight loss program. You may very well lose weight (I did), but that isn’t its primary goal. The focus of the Whole30 is to eat more whole foods (hence the name) and identify any food sensitivities you may have. Secondly, I recommend the book that started it all, It Starts with Food. This not only tells you all of the dos and don’ts of Whole30, it also gives insight into how we came to eat so much processed foods and why we crave the things we do.
In short, for 30 days you avoid alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, soy, and added sugar. Restrictive? Big time, but apparently I thrive on restriction. #freak
Bonus info: You also need to know that its founder, Melissa Hartwig is a total badass. If you need workout inspiration, add her on Instagram, posthaste!
Sugar is Everywhere
I was in a very serious, committed relationship with sugar. “Dessert first (and last)” was a way of life, and I
rarely never indulged moderately.
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that sugar didn’t love me back! In fact, sugar was causing more problems than it was solving, and I never would have known that had I not done the Whole30.
The biggest hurdle in eliminating sugar is that it is in literally everything! Bacon? Sugar. Salad dressing? Sugar. Salsa? WHY DOES SALSA HAVE SUGAR?
Your first couple of shopping trips will leave you a little frustrated and discouraged. You will feel like you can’t eat anything, because the most asinine things have added sugar. After about 10 days sans sugar, you will feel like a new creature. I had more energy and felt like my brain was firing on all cylinders. Even with a newborn, my sleep quality improved.
My Drinking was Problematic
I want to be clear here: you don’t have to be a drunk to have a drinking problem. At no point did alcohol hinder my ability to parent or work, nor was I constantly thinking about when and where I could get my next drink. If you would have asked me then, I’d have told you I was completely in control of my drinking but the truth was this: any wine bottle I opened, I finished. When you’re doing that a few times a week, you’ve either got a problem or you’re doing your best to develop one.
I didn’t realize I had a problem until I’d “detoxed” for 30 days. Looking back I can’t believe how I was completely out of control. I never considered my drinking an issue, and I doubt most people who knew me would have said otherwise. I wholeheartedly believe I was on a slippery slope, and maybe I’d have figured it out without the Whole30, but who knows how long that would have taken.
Change is Good
All of these realizations came after I’d completed my thirty days, because it’s hard to honestly assess your vices when you’re busy enjoying them. There are countless benefits to doing a Whole30, but the biggest thing for me is feeling in control. When I was reaching for my fourth donut, I didn’t feel in control. In fact, I remember thinking “Why can’t I stop doing this” almost daily. It should go without saying that drinking an entire bottle of wine is pretty much the textbook definition out of control!
Now, if I want a glass of wine, I have a glass of wine. Maybe two if I’m really feeling myself. If I am craving something sweet, I have a couple of pieces of candy or a cookie, and I can easily say “that’s enough.” Most incredible of all is that I rarely crave either of these, when in the past they were a daily must-have.
The Whole30 honestly changed my life and how I look at food. To anyone considering starting the year with a Whole30, do it. It will be incredibly challenging. You might cry. You will definitely want to give up. The ends more than justify the means!
I want to know: Have you ever done a Whole30? If so, what food demons did you conquer?
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