My Whole 30 Experience

Recently I’ve been seeing chatter about the Whole 30 program in mainstream media, most recently on Good Morning America. So I thought I’d share my experience with it.

Deciding to try Whole 30

If you’ve been reading for a while, then you know that I started seeing a functional medicine doctor last Fall to address my IBS. Through working with Dr Ponce, we learned that I was intolerant of dairy, corn, soy and gluten, so I eliminated them from my diet.

But I was still experiencing hypothyroidism and other hormonal imbalances so she suggested that I also eliminate grains, making me essentially adopt the Paleo diet.

It wasn’t a difficult transition, especially when I discovered the world of Paleo desserts. I could eat grain free but still have treats! I made these amazing treats during the holidays.

As I did more research on the Paleo diet, I learned about the Whole 30 program.

Essentially, Whole 30 is a 30-day nutrition program that is based on the Paleo diet but more restrictive. Foods like honey, molasses or even almond flour that are used in “Paleo-fied” desserts and snacks aren't allowed. This is to help people overcome cravings like for sugar and sweets.

Basically, on Whole 30, you eat a ton of vegetables, protein and limited nuts and seeds. No legumes.

It intrigued me so I asked Dr Ponce what she thought about it and she whole-heartedly endorsed it. I decided to try it out after the holidays and started the program on January 1st.

Adopting Whole 30

While the first week was challenging, it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be. I think eating Paleo for six weeks prior to starting helped take some of the sting out of the transition.

A typical day on Whole 30 was something like this:

Pre-Breakfast: 1/2 Banana and 1 Hard Boiled Egg (if I have an early morning workout, I eat this about 30-min prior to workout).

Breakfast: 1/2 Baked Sweet Potato (plain), Morning Mix (leanest organic ground beef cooked with a diced apple, cinnamon and nutmeg), 1/2 Avocado (Morning Mix recipe is from the Well Fed book)

Snack: A 9-Ingredient Shake

Lunch: Spinach Salad with Chicken, Mushrooms, Sliced Almonds, Pomegranates and anything else I have on hand that I feel like adding to it.

Snack: Carrots or Celery Sticks and a Hard Boiled Egg

Dinner: A Seafood entree (I eat a lot of seafood so there’s been several dishes) with sautéed spiraled Zucchini noodles

Snack: A Hard Boiled Egg

I recorded everything I ate and how I felt when I ate them. Doing this helped me to identify what foods triggered certain cravings and symptoms.

Post Whole 30 Findings

At the end of this initial Whole 30 I found that:

* I didn’t feel the need to snack anymore. In other words, I didn’t find myself hungry in between meals and eventually eliminated some of the snacks all together.

* My digestion improved tremendously. I was no longer gassy or bloated. Prior to this I was extremely bloated after every single food I ate, and it didn’t matter how little of it I ate. I was constantly painfully uncomfortable and it went away.

* I slept so much better - at least 8 solid hours each night.

During these 30 days I adopted Coco and wasn’t able to workout very much. In fact, I went almost two full weeks without working out and when I was able to, it was short and minimal. Yet, I somehow lost 8 lbs. It wasn’t my intention to lose weight but I did expect to drop a few pounds. But a full 8 lbs was shocking. Most of it was bloat but I *finally* felt like my old self again.

I ended up staying on Whole 30 for about six weeks.

After this experience I am a true believer of the Whole 30 program. I hadn’t felt that good and balanced in years.

When I decided to try “reintroduction”, I reintroduced sugar. (I didn’t bother to reintroduce gluten, soy, corn or dairy into my diet because I already knew my intolerance for them.) It made me feel so foggy-brained and nauseous.

I also reintroduced french fries, which are a big weakness. In fact they’re the reason I haven’t been able to successfully finish a second Whole 30. I’ve tried many times and have gotten as far as 17 days, but damn if the skinny fries from The Counter don’t do me in every time!

But I am a true believer of this program. It’s the only thing that’s made me bloat-free; I hadn’t felt that good in years.

This week I’m starting another attempt at a full Whole 30 cycle. Hopefully in four weeks I can report back on another successful completion of the program again.