After months of declaring that I’m going to do another Whole30 I’m finally doing another Whole30. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 it’s basically a paleo way of eating with very clear boundaries for thirty days. I eat seafood but no other meat so for thirty days I’m eating lots of vegetables, eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil. What I’m not eating is sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, and legumes.
Why do a Whole30? My first Whole30 happened after a month of indulging on lots of bread, wine, and cheese in Eastern Europe. My second Whole30 happened after a winter of celebrating all the holidays with lots of caramel corn, brownies, cookies, and wine. My Whole30 results were amazing – my skin was glowing, I never felt bloated, and I had some hormonal stuff that seemed to sort itself out. But even so, after my second Whole30 I kind of decided I never needed to do another Whole30 again. That I was capable of practicing balance and moderation by eating paleo 90% of the time but still enjoy treats with moderation and mindfulness. Oh and then I got pregnant – and while I didn’t throw paleo eating out the window I listened when my body made loud, almost childlike demands for “YOGURT! OATS! IN MY FACE! NOW!”
So why another Whole30? This postpartum Whole30 is an attempt to get some inflammation in my body down and my stress hormones under control. In the mornings when I step out of bed my whole body hurts – I hobble to the kitchen for my heaping bowl of morning oats like a grandma. In the evenings I feel bloated and very-not-sexy. Also, I’m doing another Whole30 because it turns out I’m not so great at moderation. I spend a lot of mental energy discerning whether a day was good enough to celebrate with an entire bar of dark chocolate (or maybe just 2 pieces? Or 3. No, 4… see!) or hard enough to wind down with a well-deserved pint of dark oatmeal stout.
Furthermore, I’ve spent the last year letting cravings dictate what I eat – and that was completely valid given my context. My previous Whole30s actually allowed me to understand my pregnancy cravings and actually listen to my body. So when my body told me to eat oats in my last trimester of pregnancy I almost felt ashamed! Like I was betraying my paleo way of life. Little did I know oats help boost milk production so it’s my paleo way of eating no grains that allowed me to listen when my body started craving them. That said, with the extra stress my body is under (lack of sleep, hitting the gym hard, breastfeeding, and general stress) I’m craving lots of sugar and entire loafs of bread. And I’m feeling it.
What’s different about this Whole30? The biggest difference is that because I was already eating mostly paleo (aside from the morning oats, evening chocolate, and occasional glass of beer) going that extra 10% isn’t so hard. Attitude-wise I have a lot more ownership over my choice to do this. I’m not a dramatic victim of the Whole30 (which is what it can feel like at times). And at just little over a week into it I’m learning that my relationship with food will always be a journey and ongoing learning experience that will need to be tweaked according to whatever factors are playing into my overall health. That said, this Whole30 is allowing me to take an objective look at where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I want to go with the things I consume and whether they make me more or less healthy.
Okay but what am I actually eating? Every morning I have sweet potato hash browns seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, and salt topped with two eggs sunny side up. I have two cups of tea with homemade hemp milk. For lunch I usually have leftovers from last night’s dinner which is typically some sort of fish and veggie dish like cauliflower rice. For snacks I eat bananas smeared with almond butter, a handful of grapes, and cucumber sticks with smoked salmon and boiled eggs. If I’m craving something sweet I’ll bake some diced apples topped with dates, nuts, and cinnamon. Or I’ll snack on some dried goji berries. That’s pretty much it!
I’ve also found it much easier to eat out on this Whole30 – I know how to modify my order to make it Paleo and without annoying the waiter too much. (Local OKC friends – The Wedge’s antipasto platter without cheese and fish and veggies at Kitchen No. 324 are safe bets.)
Should you do a Whole30? Anytime I share that I’m doing a Whole30 I get a slew of texts and direct messages saying things like “I want to do a Whole30. But I don’t know how I’m going to live without _______.” If you want to try a Whole30 just go for it. Maybe just try living without black beans or cream in your coffee or whatever for 30 days – one day at a time – and see how you do. Or don’t – just because everyone and their dog is doing a #whole30 doesn’t mean you have to.
Full disclosure: Whole30 and Whole9 Life are a client of mine but I was in no way compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I was working with Melissa and Dallas Hartwig for over a year before I tried a Whole30 and it really did change my outlook on food.