“Changing the way you think about food is hard.”
-Melissa Hartwig, The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
I am roughly 87% complete with my Lenten Whole30, but who’s counting?! #iamwhole30 No matter if it is my first time completing a Whole30 or my third time through, I constantly learn something new each and every time I complete a Whole30. As I begin to plan my 10-day reintroduction period beginning this Friday (Days 31-40), I look back and examine the lessons I have learned during my third Whole30 experience:
10 Things I Learned from Whole30
#1 Read labels! I have said it once and I will say it again (and again…and again) reading food labels is crucial not only for a successful Whole30, but for a healthy lifestyle. There are so many times during my Whole30 when I have heard people say, “Well the label says organic” or “Isn’t (insert food here) a whole food on it’s own?” You never know what you are truly eating until you turn the package around and actually read the fine print, so read, read, read!
#2 Always be prepared. “Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” #truestory Believe me, this statement has never been so true until you find yourself on the eve of Whole30 Day1 telling yourself, “Oh I will be fine and figure it out tomorrow.” Nope, wrong! (Flashback to Ash Wednesday/Day 1 of Whole30 when I had nothing, but a fried egg and a pack of salmon that looked like cat food for breakfast…talk about MacGyver-ing it. I cringe at the very thought of that meal). #yuck Even if this means putting together a small tupperware container of fruit, nuts, dried fruit or if worst comes to worst, a Whole30 approved LARABAR, always be prepared and don’t leave home without emergency reserves. Recommendation: My fav #whole30approved LB’s include Apple Pie and Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
#3 You don’t need to meal prep as much as you think. This may sound like a contradiction in comparison to my second point above, but being prepared does not always mean meal prepping. Now don’t get my wrong, washing all of your fruit and veggies as well as cutting, chopping and tupperwaring accordingly saves you time mid-week and who doesn’t love coming home to a hot crock pot meal, simmering with deliciousness, ready to eat? However, if you take a weekend away to travel and come home Sunday afternoon with absolutely no desire to grocery shop let alone meal prep, have no fear, Whole Foods is here! (Or Trader Joe’s, Mariano’s, Standard Market, insert your grocery store of choice here.) Many of your fav grocers most likely have a prepared foods section where you can grab a hot meal on the go or even pick something up on the way home to pop in the oven. Don’t be afraid to purchase items already prepared to save you some time, just be sure to refer back to my first point! Recommendation: One of my personal fav’s is Whole Foods Rosemary Paleo Chicken or if I feel like spicing things up, I will grab their Cajun Chicken. All Whole30 approved too!
#4 Hydration is key. This is also another one of my favorite reminders: drink up! #cheers When you drink half of your body weight (in ounces) per day, it’s amazing how you don’t feel the constant need to snack throughout the course of the day. Remember, dehydration is often masked as hunger, so the next time you think you need to reach for a snack, try an 8 ounce glass of water first. Odds are you won’t even be hungry afterwards because you were probably just thirsty. Fine print: If you are still hungry after drinking an entire glass of aqua, you should definitely eat!
#5 Don’t eat just to eat. Most people fall into the habit of eating just because there is food in front of them. They do not even pause to take a moment to decide whether or not they are truly hungry. Examples of these instances include, but are not limited to the following: donut day at the office, day old birthday cupcakes that are half stale, end of week happy hour appetizers, you name it. Whole30 has taught me that more often times than not, I don’t even really want said food. Instead, I automatically go to grab it just because it is right there in front of me. Whole30 reinforces to only reach for food when you are truly hungry, so take a moment and listen to your body before you grab that stale cookie!(Reminder: Drink some good ole H20 before reaching for that snack).
#6 A little bit of protein goes a long way. Whole30 teaches you to listen to your body. For instance, I would usually eat an entire Whole Foods chicken breast for dinner because it was there, that’s it, bottom line, no other reason besides it is on my plate. (Refer back to point #5). However, when I take the time to really listen to my body, I have learned that I only need about 1/2 to 3/4 of the grilled chicken breast to get my protein fill. Remember, enough protein to fill about the palm of your hand is really all you need at each meal. (Tip: If smaller portions of protein is all you need to make you feel satiated, then buy less food and save yourself some money OR continue to shop as is and freeze half of what you have purchased, that way you are set for next week and don’t have to buy more during your weekend grocery haul). #bitchonabudget
#7 The foods you were eating before Whole30 aren’t really real foods. If you cannot eat x,y, z on Whole30, then I hate to break it to you, but it is not a real food. #spolieralert Well, let me rephrase that. It’s not that it is not real food, but there are most likely healthier options out there. Participating in a Whole30 really makes you reexamine the foods you were eating prior to starting the program. After a while, one day it hits you that those so called foods are really just frankenfoods. This realization can be super sad for many people. You will most likely not look at those old favs the same again with all of this new found knowledge you now have. (i.e. this food makes me feel bloated and lethargic the next day, I don’t even really miss it, I realize I only ate it out of habit, etc.) However, the items you truly missed will one day find their way back onto your plate. #guaranteed Let’s be real, will I never not have a slice of pizza again? HA! #heckno
#8 Which foods you really missed. I miss cheese. I have never missed cheese so much before on a Whole30 except for now. I literally could go to my local Whole Foods, climb into the cheese case, set up camp, and eat my way out only leaving when every shred has been consumed. THAT is how much I miss cheese. With that being said, I know there are healthier options out there that are #whole30approved However, I fully plan on face planting into a wheel of parmesan cheese the size of my head once my reintroduction phrase is complete and I will not even feel bad about it in the least because I know it is something I really miss. (Okay let’s be real, maybe not an entire wheel, but doesn’t it sound sinfully delicious?!) On the other hand, I will not waste my time (or my calories for that matter) on foods simply I do not miss. If you didn’t miss it then don’t reintroduce it. #plainandsimple (Fun Fact: Other foods I miss are my Vega protein smoothies, Pinot Noir and Lou Malnati’s deep dish pepperoni pizza).
#9 Results take time, so be patient. One of my favorite sayings is, “Nothing good happens fast,” which is kind of ironic for all of you who know me really well as I am probably the most impatient person you will ever meet. (I am working on it okay? Leave me alone!) #nooneisperfect Anyways, enough about me. I did not start feeling good on the inside until about day 8. I really did not begin to see results on the outside until day 18. An entire 10 day difference. Other people did not notice results until the last week. What I am saying is it takes time. You will not see results over night even though that would be ideal, it’s not reality! #thisisreallife You are undoing weeks, months, even years of eating habits so naturally it will take time for your body to adjust and begin to show these changes on the outside. Don’t give up! Keep going.
#10 The last 10 days are the hardest. According to the experts, days 10-11 are the hardest days because you are only 10 days in and still have 20 to go, which means you probably have not yet reached stage #tigerblood just yet. However, I found myself eating as healthy and as #whole30approved as possible prior to the official start date so my body would not go through withdrawals too much once I began my Whole30. The first week (give or take the first day) required a little extra effort, but not much. By weeks 2-3, my new(ish) way of eating felt completely natural, but by day 21 (the day the experts say most people are just #overit), I was eyeing up my camping spot in the Whole Foods cheese case. Remember, everybody and every body is different, so everyone’s Whole30 experience will not be entirely the same. There may be some similarities person to person and for all I know, you may be spot on when looking at the Whole30 Timeline, but to each their own! (Case in point, I never thought of cheese once on my first Whole30 and now on my third time through I plan on paying rent to Whole Foods so I can live in their cheese display for a few days). #campcheese #dairydiva
Like I said before, I learn something new each and every time I participate in a Whole30 and it is always something different and interesting each time. I look forward to finishing my third Whole30 this Thursday, March 10th and look forward to beginning my reintroduction period on Friday. Stay tuned for the conclusion of my third Whole30 as well as the results and a recap of my reintroduction!
26 days down, 4 days to go…Until next time.