Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reflections on a Whole30

If you follow my posts, you might have wondered if I fell off the last couple of days of my Whole30. Actually, I stuck to it, but will admit I was perhaps a little less inspired to whip up Whole30-compliant meals. I just kind of ate some of the things I've been relying on this past month, and expended more energy on my reflections based on my experience.

Do I regret dong the Whole30? No, as it's not like there were any meals or days that it absolutely killed me to go without a certain food or stick to the plan. Would I do it again, though? Likely not.

The Whole30 didn't really have a profound effect on me. I've read that some people need to do Whole45s or Whole60s to experience real positive changes, but I'm feeling just fine capping things off at the 30 day mark. As I posted on my Facebook page, I found myself obsessing WAY too much following the program. As someone who has dealt with disordered eating in the past, it just wasn't a healthy place to be.

I had really hoped that cleaning up my already pretty clean diet would boost my energy levels, and help clear up the pesky psoriasis that lingers on my elbows and scalp. I'm fine living without dairy, gluten and legumes, but thought that avoiding paleo-ified treats and excess natural sugar would have a positive effect on my wellbeing. When I experienced sugar withdrawal headaches the first few weeks, I was really hopeful it would be the case.

It didn't "kill me" (as Dallas & Melissa joke on their webpage) to drink my coffee black. It didn't taste good to me, though, and coffee is something I drink not just for a caffeine boost but for enjoyment the smell and taste bring me. Yes, this past month has reduced my craving for sweet. I know I won't be putting more than one packet of stevia in my mug tomorrow. But I literally cannot wait to drink it again with a little hit of sweet...

And the biggest con for me was that all of the obsessing really didn't result in any positive physical changes. I have always slept well, and continued to do so. I didn't feel any more energetic or powered up during my workouts, and my skin didn't improve at all. My digestion was good, but it always is when I stick to my usual paleo diet.

I would say that there are two positives I experienced this month. One, lessening my reliance on sweet things and baked goods was definitely a plus; the other take-away I achieved was deepening my realization that I need to plan ahead to feel satisfied and avoid making silly food choices.

The first meal of the day is never a challenge for me, as I always find a way to come up with creative savory dishes or healthy takes on traditional breakfast fare. Likewise, I have always been obsessive about planning a stellar meal with which to cap off the day.

I find my "stupid" eating occurs midday, when I usually don't have anything planned, am running around like a mad woman until I suddenly realize I am so starving I could eat a horse. Without leftovers on hand, I'm more inclined to shove handfuls of raw nuts down my gullet, or grab something non-paleo like tortilla chips and salsa.

What the Whole30 taught me was that it pays to cook for the week: making a casserole or soup that will carry over for a couple of days is like food insurance. I don't need to obsess over every little ingredient in my food, but I can certainly think ahead so that I nourish myself with the good stuff.

And although I lost a little steam during the last week, I definitely renewed my love of creative cooking this past month. I made some really fun and inspiring food. While the caveman adamantly refused to do the Whole30 with me, when he ate things I'd prepared he consistently commented that my cooking keeps getting better and better.

So that's how I would sum up my experience. I guess I felt a little bit like I missed the whole light bulb moment so many others profess to having during their Whole30. It didn't change my life, and while I don't regret doing it, the positives definitely didn't make the whole obsessive nature of the beast worth it for me...


  1. i adore your honesty. I have a feeling that if I did the whole30 that the same thing would happen to me. however, I am going to try strict paleo in a few days for atleast a couple weeks. well see how it goes!

  2. Great, honest post Susan. I too recently did a Whole30 and had both positive and negative thoughts about it. I recommend everyone try it one time and I personally loved how I felt on it but I found myself becoming obsessive and stressed out and having to plan way too much in advance.
    I've had a lot of experience with eating disorders (and honestly am still slightly dealing with some residue effects, mostly mentally) and was wondering if you were willing to talk about how eating paleo has helped with these issues (such as if you ever binge ate before going paleo, did you find that this was mostly solved? and did paleo re-establish your metabolism and allow you to eat like a NORMAL person again? haha)
    Thanks so much!