The Whole 30 Experience: an honest review

by Melissa on October 26, 2016 · 3 comments

Stepping away from the usual travel talk for this one.  This summer was spent indulging a little too much – we did a lot of drinking with friends, and more than our fair share of eating all the delicious noms.  I definitely had my fair share of naughty foods while I spent a week at Julia Child’s Provençal cottage in July.  As September rolled into view for Mr K and me, we decided to do something about it and challenged ourselves to thirty days on the Whole 30 diet. You may be wondering, “what is the Whole 30?”

whole 30 book
The Whole 30 is basically an elimination diet that resembles an extreme version of Paleo that one does for a minimum of 30 days. The basic rules are to eliminate:

  • Sugar or sweeteners (real or fake- including stevia, honey, maple syrup, etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains (including wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, etc.)
  • Dairy
  • Legumes (including soy, chickpeas, peanuts, beans, etc.)
  • Deep fried foods
  • Healthy versions of unhealthy foods (ie. protein pancakes)
  • Chemicals and additives like MSG, carrageenan, nitrites, etc.

At the end of the 30 days, you’re supposed to slowly re-introduce the foods to see where sensitivities may lie. We didn’t really comply with the slow re-introduction.  This was probably because I was just so happy to be able to eat bread and cheese again, while K was excited to drink to his heart’s content. While some people can sustain this type of eating and turn it into a lifestyle, we certainly could not.  It was definitely much too restrictive, time-consuming and expensive for us to implement full time into our lives. That being said, it was a great experiment and we had some really great results.

Results

At the end of our Whole 30 experience, I managed to lose 11lbs and the boyfriend lost 10lbs. This was without any additional (or really ANY for that matter) exercise.

whole 30 finished

Our thoughts about the Whole 30 experience:

Pros:

  • It was nice to know I could stick to my guns.  We stuck to the diet, despite enormous peer pressure and people just saying things like, “oh one bite won’t hurt you.” We refused to give in.
  • Made good use of our Costco membership and learned the farmers market schedule!
  • We had so much energy and slept longer and more soundly.   The boyfriend noted this difference in me on multiple occasions.
  • It was fun to get in the kitchen and cook things from scratch.  Most of the recipes we tried ended up being big wins.  I impressed a lot of people by telling them I made my own mayonnaise and ketchup.
  • Got us reading labels in the grocery store. You would be shocked to know that almost ALL pre-packaged bacon has SUGAR added to it! WTF!?
  • The weight loss was a nice surprise at the end of the month – especially since we didn’t up our exercise game (though I did think about it).

WHOLE 30 TACOS

Cons:

  • Social situations became extremely difficult and we became “those people.” You know – the kind that can’t eat this or that, the ones that make a million substitutes, the people that others ask “so what CAN you eat?”   We basically became the people that typically make me cringe or roll my eyes.
  • It was more expensive than our budget typically allows – and we weren’t even eating organic, grass-fed anything. In a perfect world, I would love to only eat organic, grass-fed, free-range everything, but in reality, my bank account doesn’t allow for such luxuries. Since we were consuming WAY more veggies and meat than we normally would eat, we found ourselves at the grocery store 3 and 4 times per week.
  • During week 3 I cried because I missed bread and cheese and just wanted a cheeseburger! This didn’t just happen once…rather, twice, K found me in a ball in my office, crying over the foods we weren’t allowed to eat.
  • Cooking everything from scratch takes so much time! Gone were the mornings we could just pour ourselves some cereal, or pop bread in the toaster… no, we had to take extra time to cook an egg, or bacon, or some sort of sweet potato hash that I had whipped up on the weekend.
  • Eating out at restaurants became a challenge. I’m not really a salad person, and I hate having to ask for a thousand substitutes or items on the side.
  • I can see how that if the wrong person tries to do this diet, it could encourage disordered eating or thinking.  If you have a hint of an eating disorder – anorexia, bulimia, and especially orthorexia, stay far, far away from this diet.
  • Black coffee sucks.  So does cauliflower rice.

food prep

Final Thoughts

Like I said – it was a great experiment. It was doable for 30 days, and we had some great results. That being said, it’s definitely not something we could do all the time. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing another round of it.   However, we found that you really must choose your timing wisely. September worked out to be the month that made the most sense for us.   There were no holidays where food was the focus, neither one of us were celebrating a birthday where alcohol would be enjoyed. Since most people were getting back into the swing of things after summer – we didn’t have TONS of things on our social agenda. The weight loss was definitely the crown jewel of the achievements and made me feel pretty good about myself and our effort.

That said, the rules can definitely be very imposing and I have a genuine concern for anyone with any sort of eating disorder trying to follow the Whole 30.  I believe that it can definitely contribute to disordered beliefs and thinking surrounding food.  My suggestion: if you don’t have any inkling or history of eating disorders, give it a shot – it’s only 30 days, after all!

Have you tried the Whole 30?  What was your experience?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne October 26, 2016 at 4:34 pm

I’m so proud of you. You can do anything when you put your mind to it. Way to go!!!

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Megan Dickson March 4, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Hey!
I actually came across your blog while searching “beach vacation travel essentials” and found this wrap-up of your Whole 30. I’m on Whole 30 right now, my second go-round, and it has been VERY hard! It was so good to read your review, hear about some of your achievements and your challenges. I only have 3 more days to go, and your post has encouraged me to FINISH STRONG! Thanks for taking the time to post!

Sincerely,
Megan
https://refinedrugged.com

Reply

Melissa March 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm

You’ve got this my dear! I’ve thought about re-doing it… but I can’t seem to find the best time to do so 😛

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