On October 19th, I embarked on something I thought I’d never do: the Whole 30 program.
Whenever I read about how great the Whole 30 makes people feel, I’d always think, “I’m just not willing to give up how great it feels to bite into a cookie or slice of Dubliner.”
But then, all of a sudden, I was. I had failed many past attempts to eat “healthier,” a goal too vague to foster real change. Plus, I’m an abstainer, which means eating less of something is harder for me than not eating it at all.
My biggest motivator was to break my sugar dependence in time for the holidays. Since sugar acts more like a drug than a food in our bodies, I knew that a prolonged fast was the only way to stop the cravings and inevitable relapses. Whole 30 doesn’t allow sugar substitutes like maple syrup or agave either, so your body can truly detox and adjust to more stable blood sugar levels.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect because I did very little research before starting. I learned what I could and couldn’t eat, made a grocery list and dove in.
Notes from my experience so far:
I use sugar and empty carbs like drugs, to cope or feel better emotionally. I’ve really craved something sweet when I felt stressed, anxious or upset.
I’m also an introvert, and I’ve noticed myself yearning for the comfort of sweets in large group settings where they’re available. Bottom line: eating your feelings is real, y’all.
The unsettled feeling in my stomach from that second cup of coffee is the half and half, not the coffee. I used to think it was the acidity of the coffee, but my stomach has been fine now that I’m drinking it black.
The hardest things for me to give up were sugar and red wine. Dairy and gluten were surprisingly easier than I’d expected.
My tastes really have changed. I am so thankful. I was afraid that I’d be choking down veggies and counting the days through my Whole 30, since I didn’t really like meat or vegetables that much. Fruit tastes much sweeter now that I’m not eating refined sugar. I’ve begun to enjoy vegetables and even meat.
I’m more full and satisfied after meals now that I’m eating more protein. I eat more meat than I did before, but not that much more. I’ve learned which veggies are protein rich and I also get protein from eggs and nuts.
It isn’t more expensive. If you want to bake gluten free or make gluten and dairy free pizza, the substitutions are expensive. If you just eat fruit, vegetables, meat and nuts, it’s not.
So. Much. Energy. I cannot overstate the difference in my energy level. I wake up alert. I feel more rested, even though I haven’t changed my sleep habits.
No more afternoon slump. I used to feel sleepy and have trouble concentrating in the afternoon. My theory is that eating carbs at lunch spiked my blood sugar, and the slump afterwards left me distracted and tired.
The food I’m eating now gives me more energy and burns consistently and slowly, as opposed to the ups and downs of carbs and sugar.
I’ve been more productive in the past two weeks than any time I can remember. I can’t explain how important this is for the work I do. I work on my own projects, as well as multiple projects for multiple clients every day.
The increased ability to transition without distraction and focus for longer periods of time has made a huge difference in what I’m able to accomplish.
I’ve also been more motivated. I have no idea why. I worried that the overlap of 31 days and Whole 30 would be too much new discipline at once. Instead, the extra energy and motivation propelled me to finish my 31 days series strong.
I’m no expert, but I can say I’m a believer now that I’ve tried it. One of my November goals is to transition into a long term plan that maintains these benefits but doesn’t totally exclude gluten, dairy, sugar or alcohol.
Have you tried Whole 30? What recommendations do you have for me? What questions?