Yesterday was the official end of my Whole30 experiment. Although to be honest I pretty much called it quits on day 24. Ever since my first misstep, I just couldn’t get back on track. The excitement that I had when I first started was gone. And it wasn’t until I read Mellissa’s blog post about her own Whole30 experience that I realized why.

The Whole30 is a great “cleanse diet” for people who need a complete reset of how they think about food. It makes you look at what you eat, makes you pay attention to all the little ingredients, makes you realize you really don’t need to eat any one thing. Even for someone who has been eating paleo or primal for a while, the Whole30 is a way to take a step back and discover things about yourself.

However, I also think that the Whole30 is not sustainable. I mean, I guess it’s not really supposed to be since “it’s only for 30 days.” But if the point isn’t to teach you how to eat, then why even do it? As Mellissa said in her post, the Whole30 doesn’t celebrate food. It restricts it. Forces you into a tiny hole of what’s allowed and chastises you if you step out of it. Which for someone who has had a history of anorexia is very dangerous territory. 

What’s more is I found myself overanalyzing every single bump and squeak my body made. If I felt my fibromyalgia pain flare up, was it because of the tomato I just had or was it just from the way I was sitting? On the day of the golf outing when I ate the sandwich, and pasta, and cookies, did I feel sick because I was eating dairy and gluten or just because I was eating crap? 

And when I was eating Whole30 100%, I was plagued with terrible acid reflux and constipation. Was I not eating enough fiber? Was this my body’s way of telling me that the Whole30 was actually doing more damage to my system than good? This past weekend, I was so freaked out that I did what I knew would work: being lactose intolerant, I inhaled an entire cup of ice cream.

But now it’s Thursday, day 31 and I feel worse about my body than I did when I first started. I took measurements and my weight on day 1 but don’t even want to get near a scale because I’m almost 100% positive the number has gone up. 

Having said all that, I’m thinking about trying the Whole30 one more time. I know, crazy right? I even have it on my calendar with a question mark next to it. My birthday is September 21 and after I have my fill of birthday cake and free shots, I think I might be ready to give it one more try. 

You see it’s because even though there were so many negatives, the Whole30 truly opened my eyes about the way I eat:
  • I learned that I don’t want to drink soda, not even diet, anymore. I had pretty much given it up about a year ago, but I was still ordering it when I went out to restaurants. After giving it up cold turkey, I realized I actually don’t enjoy it.
  • I learned that I don’t want to eat processed foods. This might seem like a no brainer, but before doing the Whole30 I was still using store bought mayo. I even have a back up bottle of it in my pantry. But after looking at the list of ingredients, I think I’ll pass.
  • I learned that even with my self proclaimed “love of cheese,” I can enjoy foods without it. I’m not 100% sure that I want to give it up entirely, but I do want to be more picky about which ones I eat. Growing up I thought there was nothing more disgusting than those slices of kraft singles. I found that now I feel the same way about those bags of shredded cheese I used to pile onto my plate. If I’m going to have cheese, it’s only going to be high quality.
  • I learned that I really need to stay away from commercial chocolate. Not chocolate completely, but I need to stick to very dark chocolate and in small amounts. I purchased what I thought was high quality chocolate in an effort to make myself feel better and 15 minutes later went through a terrible sugar crash. 
  • Which brings me to the biggest take away: I learned that I use food as a security blanket. I eat to make myself feel better, either because I’m upset or I’m bored. It has nothing to do with being hungry. The worst is at work, right around 3pm, I get this nervous energy that makes me stir crazy. The first couple of weeks on the Whole30, I mindlessly inhaled handfuls of nuts. Which is better than bags of chips but it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. And when I was feeling down about the Whole30, I used eating chocolate or ice cream as a way to say “it’s OK. Screw it all.” 
And for these things I am thankfully I did the Whole30. And why I am ready to give it another try. During the next week or so I’m going to allow myself to mentally prepare for it. When I started the first time, I jumped in without knowing what to expect. This next time is going to be different. And I might even get Jake to do it with me.

4 thoughts on “Whole30 Wrap-up”

  1. Thanks Rachel! This is a wonderful realization to come too and I basically did the same too. I did not do the Whole30 or going 100% paleo, but Ill say 90% and I did learn a lot of things, but what I did learn is that as an extremely busy person who is up at 5:30am and not stopping till about midnight each day, paleo wouldn’t cut it for me. I need steel cut oats, spelt bread, quinoa, brown rice, etc.. back in my life! I know that paleo works for some, but not for me. Great job though on the Whole30

  2. Hi Rachel! It sounds like you still got a lot out of the experience. For me it was a huge learning experience! Similar to you, I learned more about my emotional connection with food and cut out the last few foods we were eating that were highly processed or had strange ingredients that I didn’t want in my diet.

    The Whole30 should just be a beginning for you – even if you don’t do it again you can take what you learn and apply it for the future.

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