Kickstart Your Health and Wellness Journey: Why You May Want to Try Whole30
If you scan Pinterest you will see no shortage of ideas for quick fixes to lose weight and get fit fast. But I bet if you are visiting Heal Nourish Grow, you are looking for ways to cultivate a long-term, healthy relationship with your body, mind and nutrition. I was pleasantly surprised that the Whole30, a trendy 30-day elimination diet, helped me get a renewed start on my health and wellness journey.
My Relationship With Body Image and Eating
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Let me backup. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with body image, disordered eating, and health issues related to digestion. I was constantly trying new diets in the hopes that I would lose the last 10 pounds. And occasionally, I would, but then the weight would come back. It is a cycle many of us are familiar with, and it becomes a trap that can feel impossible to escape.
Over the past few years, my mindset has shifted. While I wanted to get back to a healthy weight, my priority became my overall health. I wanted to have more energy, be active, and live longer. So when I read about the Whole30, something clicked. It felt like the answer to what I had been looking for. It’s not about starving or eating packaged foods with points. It is about real, whole foods that nourish your body.
What is the Whole30 Elimination Diet?
Founded in April 2009 by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, Whole30 has exploded in popularity. Millions of people have gone through the process. It is not a weight loss program; in fact, one of the rules of Whole30 is you agree not to step on a scale or take body measurements for the duration of the 30 days.
Something that I didn’t do but wish I had, is to take before and after photos. It is embarrassing to admit, but I don’t have many photos from myself at that time because of how insecure I was. Even though the results were noticeable to me and those around me, it would have been nice to see the outcome after all my hard work, and be able to share it with you!
The program is strict, and it is designed to be. If you break by eating any of the non-designated foods, you must start over. Otherwise, the authors’ argue, you will break the health and healing reset.
Whole30, like the ketogenic diet, cuts out refined sugars. Unlike eating keto, Whole30 forbids the consumption of any sugars – including Stevia, honey or other natural sweeteners. It is not meant to be followed strictly over a long period of time. However, some people are so happy with their results they continue for 60 or 90 days or more, doing several consecutive rounds of Whole30. I completed 30 days and felt it was the perfect amount of time to meet my goals.
Also eliminated while on Whole30 are alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Basically, you are attempting to reset your relationship with carbs and sweets.
What are the Differences Between Keto and Whole30?
The main difference between the keto diet and Whole30 is that carbs are not limited and that you are completely eliminating anything sweet for 30 days. Although some people following the keto diet allow themselves to have stevia or other artificial sweeteners, most agree that they aren’t good for you, could cause insulin spikes and can cause sugar cravings.
Whether you try Whole30 or keto, you’re better off eliminating all sweets for at least a while.
Why I Tried Whole30
The driving force behind my Whole30 reset was breaking my sugar and carb habit. I was at a point where I would mindlessly add a muffin or other carb-heavy snack to my daily order of black coffee. I had no energy and was constantly crashing before lunch. Whole30 calls these kinds of treats “food-without-brakes.”
These foods may be different for everyone, but for me, I considered my morning treats the worst offenders.
There are so many reasons to do a reset, and it will be different for everyone. You may want more awareness around what you’re putting in your body and how it makes you feel. You may be looking to improve your diet to see its impact on chronic pain, energy levels, or like me, get a handle on bad habits that sabotage your health.
According to the Whole30 book,
For 30 days, the program eliminates foods demonstrated by science and our experience to promote unhealthy cravings and habits, disrupt your metabolism, damage your digestive tract, and burden your immune system. After 30 days, you carefully and systematically reintroduce those foods, and pay attention to how they impact your cravings, mood, energy, sleep, digestion, body composition, athletic performance, pain, and the symptoms of your medical condition. With that knowledge, you can then create the perfect diet for you; a nutrition plan that feels balanced and sustainable, grounded in new healthy habits, keeping you looking, feeling, and living your best.
What I Noticed While Following Whole30
After the first week of the Whole30, I already started to notice a difference in my energy levels. I felt sustained energy throughout the day, my focus was improved and my brain fog was gone. Don’t get me wrong: the first few days were rough. But, as I started to notice results such as increased energy, clearer skin, less bloating – it made it much easier to continue.
If you decide to do a Whole30, do your reading first. Make sure you know what you are getting into, and be ready to fully commit to it for an entire month. If you follow Heal Nourish Grow because you are interested in eating a ketogenic diet, you may find that the Whole30 program is a good way to kickstart a low-carb lifestyle since they share many of the same principles.
How to Survive Your Whole30 Experience
Doing the Whole30 was a challenge for me. I nearly caved several times. If it wasn’t for the people in support groups on Facebook, I am not sure I would have been as successful. Definitely check out communities and groups online to stay motivated if you don’t have an in-person support network. You may also want to follow the official #Whole30 hashtag.
If you don’t make it through 30 days, don’t beat yourself up. Being kind to yourself helps you in so many ways beyond this month-long challenge. Whole30 helped me pinpoint areas of my eating that needed improvement, but beyond that, helped me understand that food is just one piece of supporting a more active and fulfilling life.