After a little downward spiral of plain ol’ being lazy about food and cooking, a lot of junk food and eating out, I decided to turn things around kick-starting with the Whole30 Program. Why you ask? Well for starters you should know that I have never EVER cut out any food groups from my diet before and never felt the need to, as I feel like I’m in pretty good shape physically (that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement). I am relatively fit and workout fairly regularly. I don’t need to watch what I eat! I have never had or noticed any major health issues caused by eating certain foods….or so I thought. I LOVE food. I love eating out trying new restaurants, trying new recipes. I kinda frown on calorie counting diets. Calories to me are just a number that’s too often misunderstood and misrepresented. I’m more of a what you eat, rather than the number of calories it represents in a chart kind of person.
Now, I have ALWAYS preferred fresh foods and well balanced meals. I believe in moderation when it comes to junk food and processed stuff. But somewhere along the way, since I moved to the States I lost that awareness of processed foods vs real food. Everything was so easy and readily available at my finger tips. Why buy a block of cheese and grate it when you can buy it already grated and save an extra step? Why make a sauce from scratch and simmer it for 20 minutes when you can buy it from a jar ready to eat? Why come up with a seasoning mix of your own trying to figure out the right ratios when you can buy a packet off the shelf and know it will taste good? I didn’t even give it a second thought, although every time I made those decisions I silenced a part of me that knew it wasn’t the right choice. In the very back of my mind I have known that these food shortcuts (processed foods) are not the right thing for your health and body. But where do I draw the line? How do I stop?
That’s when I learned about the Whole30 and it just resonated with me. Just to be clear- I am not endorsing the program, I have no affiliation with them, I haven’t bought their books (yet, but that may change), I was not asked to write a review, I am not getting paid for this post. (The book images and link in the post however are of my own accord “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission). I had heard about the program, seen recipes all over social media and then saw some friends who were doing it and posting their journey on Facebook when it simply clicked. I did some further research on the program on their website and it just felt right to me. I like when their website said…
Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system. – Source
I also liked their concept of eliminating even potentially psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups – for a full 30 days, before re-introducing them back one at a time to fully understand and better notice the effects certain food groups have on your system. I believe each person may react differently to different food groups. And, while I may not agree with all of the food groups they have eliminated in the program, I strongly agree with their philosophy of eating food with fewer ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients and or totally natural and unprocessed foods. For all these reasons and for the simple fact that I wanted to do something about my food habits and needed some place to start I am doing the Whole30 Program.
It has been only 17 days since I started the program (you can follow my Whole30 journey on my instagram here where I frequently post pictures of my meals), but I can already tell it will change my relationship with food for the better. I’ve instantly felt an improvement in my body composition. I haven’t felt bloated since starting the program (even during my period when I usually feel very bloated and bleh). I haven’t felt like a single meal so far has sat like a brick in my stomach, like it used to before. My energy levels are great and I’ve noticed my moods are a lot more even keel than before. I still have the occasional cravings now and again, but it’s not the daily occurrences that I had before. While after the Whole30 I may re-introduce certain food groups back into my diet and go out to restaurants and not completely restrain myself, I know with certainty that these kinds of Whole30 meals will become more of a staple in my everyday life. It has definitely made me a lot more conscientious of what I eat.
That said, I don’t feel like this program is for everyone, nor is it something I can sustain as a lifestyle. I am certainly glad it is only 30 days. That I can pull off. I am very grateful my husband wanted to do it with me and supports me doing the program (it really helps not having tempting food lying around or watching someone else eat it all the time). It is a great starting point to change your food habits, but it does take a lot of work in terms of planning, cooking and commitment. I love cooking and have pretty decent cooking skills which has really helped me keep our meals exciting and flavorful so that we don’t feel like we’re missing out. In fact, I feel like we’ve eaten tastier food, had more exciting and better balanced meals than before, as a lot more thought goes into each meal. But, every now and then I enjoy a day off where someone puts a plate in front of me and I just eat and enjoy it. I haven’t had that in a while (my husband isn’t much of a cook unfortunately for me, but I love him anyway ). So if you’re not much of a cook and don’t have the time to, I can see the program being a little harder (not impossible) to do. I like not to plan my day around meals occasionally and just grab a bite wherever you are without having to give it too much thought, which is hard to do while on the program. You also have to pick the right time to do the full 30 days, putting a lot of thought into things that may come up during that time. We’ve had to alter some social engagements to accommodate us doing the program where we eat at home and then go out or pack some compliant food to go. I don’t lead an incredibly busy lifestyle so it isn’t as hard to do, but I can certainly see that being a hurdle to overcome for some. At the end of the day though despite the downsides just like most things in life, if YOU WANT to make a change you just have to do it. Life won’t stand still for you to do it, there will never be the perfect time and things will always come up. But CHOICE is always in your hands and if you want it…you do it!
After my Whole30 journey I don’t think I’m going to be strictly paleo or gluten-free or sugar-free or strictly anything for that matter. I’m going to do what I feel is right for me and find my balance of my love for all food and healthy choices. I also feel like this won’t be the only time I do the Whole30 program. I might do it once a year, or whenever I feel like I’m losing touch with real food (which I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to again…but you never know). I might do the Whole9 once in a while. I don’t know. All I know, is I like my current outlook towards food and where it’s gotten me in terms of my body and healthy feeling.
I’d love to hear about your Whole30 experiences or simply your thoughts about food and health in the comment section below. Also…stay tuned for more Whole30, Paleo and healthier recipes on PictureTheRecipe. That’s not to say I won’t do some occasional not so healthy for you treats either