Our Whole 30 Food Challenge

After finishing my Whole 30, I was pretty sure that I would want to do nothing but binge on cheese. And bread. And sugar. And chai lattes.

Instead, something wonderful has happened. I actually *want* to eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense food. A plate of protein, sweet potato, and veggies is a delicious meal. And I don’t really *want* milk in my coffee. I’m not lying.

whole30 food 2

Baked sweet potato, steak, and veggies

The Whole 30 challenge is 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed foods. Protein, veggies, fruits, nuts, healthy fats, and spices. All the good stuff. 30 days of making good food choices, with no cheating. That’s right, no cheating. No 80/20 rule. Why? Because the purpose is to form new habits and recalibrate the body’s hormones and taste buds. It worked. Somewhere around week 3 I had a tangerine, and it was heavenly. I didn’t need anything sweeter.

By the end of the 30 days, I felt pretty darned good. Not magical, as some proclaim happens, but good. I was sleeping through the night, every night. My mid-day slumps had disappeared, and even though I didn’t suddenly transform into a morning person, my period of grogginess once I was up was much, much shorter. Both my husband and I are more lean than when we started, and we learned to cook things that we really like.

On the flip side of that, this program was hard at times. It made me downright grumpy a few days. I’d say 30 days was about my limit as far as the no cheating rule went. Mentally, the strict rules are unsustainable for a long period of time. But, after my first week back to ‘normal,’ I can very clearly feel how my food choices affect my body, which makes it much easier to make good choices. And, I haven’t felt the urge to binge. I’ve had a dessert here, some wine there, a burger and fries with friends. But when I’m home and at work I return to our Whole 30 way of eating. I’m not craving sugar, grains, or cheese, and I know that the milk in a latte is going to make my stomach queasy and make me feel ridiculously tired. I suddenly have a clear picture of how my food choices make me feel, and I have control over bad food habits that I didn’t even know I needed to break.

Veggie and sausage hash

Veggie and sausage hash

More than ten of my friends and family agreed to take on this challenge with me, including my husband. We set up a little support group online and shared our experiences, recipes, tips, tricks, etc. It was a great way to do the challenge, and really helpful.

Overall, this was a good experience, and I’m really glad I did it. It’s changed the way we eat at home, and it’s given me good insight into my own relationship with food. My husband says that, for him, it’s clarified the difference between eating for sustenance and recreational eating. I can say the same for me. I’ve also learned how to cook without a recipe; something I never, ever thought would happen.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Whole 30, check out the book “It Starts With Food.” It’s a great source of information on how our bodies handle the food we eat, with an explanation of the challenge and the science behind it. Even if you don’t plan on doing a Whole 30 challenge, I recommend reading this book. I found it quite interesting and informative. For a more general overview without the science, the official Whole 30 website is here.

A very happy New Year to you all!

4 thoughts on “Our Whole 30 Food Challenge

  1. Laurie Tewksbury

    I’d love to try something like this. I’ve been wanted to change my eating habits for quite some time now. I’ll be sure to check out that book. Thank you!

  2. Lydia

    Eliz, I’m so excited you guys did the Whole 30! I had similar results with the sleeping all night and getting quicker to awake in the morning. I love that. And I love how it made more apparent the effects food choices have on the way we feel. I’d be interested to see how things go for you guys in the next few months. I’ve found that I have a new awareness about what I’m eating and how that makes me feel, even when I know that what I’m about to eat (holiday cookies, yes!) probably won’t make me feel awesome. I’m willing to pay the price now and then!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Lydia, I feel the same way. I love the awareness that I’ve gained from this, even if I choose to have a cookie. At least I know the consequences, so it’s a conscious decision now. I like being able to ask myself the question “will this make me more healthy or less healthy?” Thanks, too, for sharing your experience with it earlier this fall. That post was part of what convinced me to give it a go. (Here’s that post for anyone reading this who missed it).

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