Note: These opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience with Whole 30. This post is not meant to dissuade you from trying, just to make you aware that it is not an easy experience.
We’re down to the final stretch of Whole 30 (8 days to be exact – last day is Feb 2), and although I have definitely seen improvements in my overall health and well being, I wanted to talk about the negative aspects of Whole 30 that you may not realize before going into it:
- Being Hangry: The worst point for me on Whole 30 was my work trip to Richmond. Even though I brought my own snacks, I did not predict being unable to eat almost all the food we were given. The result? I spent 48 hours living on RX bars, and fruit, feeling totally unsatisfied and extremely hungry watching my co workers eating delicious looking sandwiches, salads, cookies etc. So this is a warning that there might be quite a few times where the snacks you packed weren’t enough, the meals didn’t fill you up like you hoped, or you just are so tired of the food you’ve been making you’re dying for something more. So, if you have to travel for work and don’t have the flexibility to go to restaurants and are forced to eat buffet food, here’s My advice to you:
- Do your best! Buffet food is difficult because most of the time the waiters and chefs don’t know the ingredients, but try to focus on meals and snacks that have a high protein/fat ratio. RX bars are an OK quick fix, same with fruit, but if you’re eating only those two you’re not getting sufficient protein and fat and are eating too much sugar.
- Don’t Dwell. Don’t get stuck in your head and obsess over whether you are being 100% compliant. As they say, “There is no Perfect Whole30.” You’ll do more harm than good if you skip out on food because you are worried about the ingredients. We know deli meats and bacon have added sugar 98% of the time. If this is your only option, don’t worry about it, and instead take note of whether it makes you feel any different as you would during the reintroction phase after Whole 30.
- Being Antisocial: I don’t know about you all, but it pains me to be with my friends and be the only one not drinking. My first night in Richmond I had to lock myself in my room, order room service, and go to bed early so I wouldn’t be tempted to give into going out to bars and drinking. Other people might have more willpower than I, but this was extremely frustrating for me because I’m still relatively young, enjoy drinking with my friends, and even though I want a stronger looking stomach, I’d rather make fun memories and be social. Here’s how I have been getting through my weekends:
- Keeping Busy: I have spent my time, cooking, running errands, and working out (even if it was just taking Bubba for an hour walk – I did it to pass the time)
- Having a Buddy System: I was dying for any bit of social interaction I could get without the temptation of going out. This past weekend we were faced with a ton of rain and I got serious cabin fever being at home the majority of the weekend. My fiance has been a HUGE help during these 30 days, and I don’t think I could do this without him. He has much more patience than I have, because I would have personally kicked myself out if I had to deal with the way I have been acting.
- Food Boredom: Although I have eaten some delicious meals, I am definitely a bored of constantly eating eggs, meats, and veggies. Personally, I miss my vega-one protein shakes, oatmeal, and ezekiel toast with lox. It’s hard for me to stomach eggs every AM even if I change the way I’m cooking them. I also miss sandwiches, my soy mistos / cappuccinos, and poke. Food has become less exciting, especially if I have a busy work week or unexpected events come up and I have limited time to cook. My advice to you on getting past the food boredom:
- Be Creative! I haven’t been as creative as I could be, but to help inspire you – look at instagram accounts and really research different recipes that are out there. The Whole30 site also has great recipes for dressings and sauces (the prosciutto cream sauce tastes like vodka sauce and is incredible with zoodles or spaghetti squash. Pro tip: add ground beef or turkey to add more protein). Cooking may be more work and more expensive, but it’s definitely worth it (and hey, you’re not going out spending money on drinks so whatever)
(oatless oatmeal – made with ground flaxseed, zucchini, bananas, eggwhites)
- Sugar Intake: I am probably eating more than the recommended fruit / natural sugar intake on Whole 30, and I think that Whole 30 can lead some people to eat more sugar than they would normally intake. For example, I was pretty annoyed that a kind bar, which I find tastier than lara and RX bars, have less sugar than the two, the same amount of protein, and more fiber. If I were not on Whole 30 I would grab one of these, but they contain soy and added sugar. I’m trying to increase protein intake at meals so I can decrease sugar cravings (which does help), but while I was in Richmond and only had access to RX bars and fruit, I definitely ate WAY more sugar than I normally would. Advice:
- Ensure you always have protein and fat packed snacks on hand. Almonds, cashews, apples with nut butter, chomps jerky, epic bars, are all great options. If you do eat fruit, try to go for raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries (those with lower net carbs.)
- Being a Stickler about Ingredients: I have been surprised at how many foods I would think are Whole 30 complaint, are not. For example, one time I was starving and ran into harris teeter, grabbed a tin of mixed nuts (sans peanuts), purchased, and opened the tin to eat. 3 bites in and I remembered, “ah, should check ingredients!” and was saddened to find they were cooked in peanut oil. Examples like these get very frustrating, because any other diet I would be OK eating this. Another time I became irritated was after going to Whole Foods to get the hot bar with a ton of veggies and meat, only to turn around and go somewhere else because almost everything at Whole Foods is cooked in canola oil or has other ingredients that are not compliant. I can’t wait to eat these foods again and not worry about the little things.
- Becoming Food Obsessive: For anyone that has dealt with disordered eating in the past, Whole 30 could definitely be a triggering experience. The whole idea of “non compliant” Whole 30 foods can skew one’s view to looking at foods like whole grains, beans, etc. as “bad” foods. I can definitely see problems with Orthorexia (obsessive behaviors with healthy diets) arising after 30 days of actively paying attention to every ingredient you put in your body. I personally believe in eating in moderation, and following a balanced diet that works well for you and your body. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Whole 30 is definitely a great way to see what foods can be problematic for you and your digestive system, but for anyone getting over an eating disorder or known to have obsessive behaviors towards eating, I suggest they wait before deciding to complete a Whole 30. My friend who is also on Whole 30 and I have recently caught ourselves obsessing over what is going to happen post Whole 30. If you find yourself doing this, please remind yourself to do the following:
- Take it One Day at a Time. The point of the Whole 30 is to reset and discover what foods create certain issues for you. Really try to take the reintroduction phase seriously (there are two versions of doing the reintroduction: 10-Day Approach, or Slow Roll). If you feel like you’re getting out of hand and going back to binge-eating and other habits,try resetting and do 3 days (or however many) of Whole 30 again.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up. If you do happen to gain some weight back, it’s OK! It could be that you are just retaining water and it could drop as soon as you get back on track. Just tackle it right up front. Maybe increase your workout days or intensity and stick to Whole 30 meals M-F if you are drinking on the weekends.
I hope this post doesn’t scare you away from partaking in a Whole 30, but you need to know both sides of the story! Definitely stay tuned over the next few weeks as I discuss my re-introduction process!