What I Learned from the Whole 30

Here are my findings from my Whole 30, what I learned and what I’m going to do about it.

What I Learned from the Whole 30 - Here are my findings from my Whole 30, what I learned and what I'm going to do about it.

chicken salad wraps

The day after Valentine’s Day I embarked on what I considered a pretty wild prospect: to abstain from eating anything containing soy, sugar, dairy, gluten, grain, or alcohol — for THIRTY DAYS. Since these ingredients are pretty prevalent in the average American diet, it was a bit of a challenge to keep those ingredients at bay.

What did I eat? Lots of meats, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.

The diet, if you want to call it that, is considered “a nutrititional reset”, a chance to give your body a break from foods that might not agree with you. By eliminating most of the usual suspects of inflammation and food intolerance, you get a chance to see what “normal” is. During the reintroduction phase at the end of 30 days, you can find out if something really doesn’t agree with you.

I initially tried this program to see if I could troubleshoot my recurrent hip and leg pain. Many folks who’ve done a Whole 30 have seen remarkable results when they eliminated the foods that were causing them trouble.

My 30 days ended a little over a week ago. Here’s what I learned:

1. Paleo is not so very weird.

The Whole30 is a very strict paleo diet. Previously, I didn’t know much about paleo and just assumed it was weird. Eating along these guidelines, mainly animal protein, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, I found plenty of meals that were super satisfying — and not all that different from some of my favorite regular, run-of-the-mill meals.

While I ate larger portions of meat and fish than I normally do, I usually fill my plate with vegetables and fruits anyway. This wasn’t some crazy meal. It all looked fairly normal.

I realized that I had some misconceptions of what paleo was and therefore, had been fairly judgmental about it. I assumed folks were just gnawing on steaks. Paleo, eaten properly, is a great balance of produce and protein.

What I Learned from the Whole 30 - Here are my findings from my Whole 30, what I learned and what I'm going to do about it.

2. Regular meals are good for me.

I am a rule follower, generally speaking, so I stuck to the directions of the Whole30 diet. That included no snacking and making sure that I ate three meals a day. Sometimes, I really had to force myself to eat a meal. It showed me how often I skip meals or just snack my way through the day.

Making my favorite Skillet Eggs every morning was good for me.

Since I slept really well most nights and had no trouble getting up early without an alarm clock, I’m seeing that regular meals were good for me. And since I wasn’t snacking, I also didn’t eat something sugary right before bed. That helped me immensely.

If you missed the meal log, you can see what I ate everyday during my Whole 30.

3. Sugar is not my friend.

Since going back to all the regular foods, I’ve discovered that excess carbs, particularly sugar, make me drowsy. During my 30 days, I drank my coffee with coconut milk instead of my 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cream. I’ve given up that habit because I realize that it just doesn’t help my day very much.

I still crave sweets, so I’m still working through how to keep that in check. I don’t think sugar is the devil or anything like that. But, I realize that I need to enjoy it wisely. I’m on a mission to reduce our household sugar intake by making more juices, smoothies, fruit and nut bars, and other naturally-sweet treats.

(I also learned that turnips don’t agree with me. I never would have been able to narrow that down unless I’d been on this strict elimination diet, knowing exactly what was going into my body.)

What I Learned from the Whole 30 - Here are my findings from my Whole 30, what I learned and what I'm going to do about it.

 

Monkey Salad

4. My pain was not about food.

Some of you know that I had already been to my doctor on two occasions, trying to get help for the hip pain I’ve had since May of last year. By the end of Week 3 of the diet, my pain was getting worse, not better. I decided to try a chiropractor instead. He’s helped me tremendously.

Turns out I have all kinds of things to fix: dysfunctional sacroiliac joint, the beginnings of a hunchback, and the effects of my childhood scoliosis. After less than two weeks of treatment (adjustments, ice, stretching), my hip pain is in check, and the doctor is working on the scar tissue in my back and neck to reverse or diminish the hunchbackety-ness.

I’m so thankful that the pain was not food related. You know me. Food is a big deal in our family. I’m already juggling lots of different challenges; I really didn’t want to have to omit something from my diet.

5. Soy and sugar are in everything.

I already was on a rampage against soy; I think that it’s overused, too much of it is GMO-quality, and it messes with sex hormones. Since I spent more time reading labels, particularly at restaurants, I realized how much soy and sugar are in our diet. Not good.

I did not expect to see soy in canned tuna or sugar in bacon, two ingredients that I previously would have thought were devoid of “extras”. My eyes are a little more open to these ingredients in particular, and I’m hoping to avoid them where I can.

What I Learned from the Whole 30 - Here are my findings from my Whole 30, what I learned and what I'm going to do about it.

Skillet Eggs

6. This was not a body improvement venture for me.

Since I was learning to avoid snacking, I ended up eating very full plates of food three times a day. My husband was taken aback at my large portions. While I did lose a few pounds during the 30 days, the inches did not come off. In fact, my clothes were at their most recent “tight” on Day 30. Since backing off the diet, my clothes have started to feel more comfortable. I haven’t really gained weight back, but it seems that what’s there has moved around a bit. I’m not sure.

7. I discovered some great flavor combinations.

I’ll confess, by Day 30, I was ready to be done. I clocked soooooooooo many hours in the kitchen during that month, it really took its toll on me. That said, I did discover some great flavor combinations, like Monkey Salad or my favorite salad with chicken, avocado, oranges, and cashews.

This diet is not deprivation, especially if you make an effort to be creative and are willing to spend a little on your base of ingredients to give yourself variety.

8. Friends can help carry the load.

The beauty of Facebook never ceases to amaze me. Thanks to some late-night networking, I found a great group of friends and acquaintances to give me support and guidance throughout my 30 days. Tsh, Mandi, Tricia, Anne, Sarah, Heidi, Rena, Stacy, and a host of others really helped me get a grip on the experience.

My husband was skeptical but completely supportive. He endured endless date nights at Chipotle since that was the only restaurant that was “easy” to eat at.

I couldn’t have done it without the help of friends.

What I Learned from the Whole 30 - Here are my findings from my Whole 30, what I learned and what I'm going to do about it.

 

Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad

9. I want to learn more.

I am not convinced that any food God made is inherently bad. Food products that scientists have made? That’s a different story. While I’m not ready to give up my baguette, cheese, and wine, I do see that my body benefitted from the experience. I was much more alert and didn’t need as much sleep.

My husband claims I also went to bed earlier instead of eating ice cream or making a late-night run to In-N-Out Burger (which I have been known to do). Maybe I was sleeping in a more productive window? Maybe I ate during better hours? Maybe there is something to avoiding the carbs?

I’m not really sure. I know that this diet was not sustainable for me long term due to the nature of my work, family, and budget. However, I’m going to try again later in the year and see if I can learn more about how food and my body agree.

Have you ever done a Whole 30?

What was your experience?

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Comments

  1. I’m so impressed that you finished this plan, and I’m glad you learned from it :)

    Have you tried stevia substitutes? I’m sure there are naysayers against anything – but this seems pretty safe and I find it wonderful in my coffee, and for some other uses

    I agree on the soy – my doctors have made it clear that with the history of breast cancer I have I shouldn’t go near it, nor should my kids – never thought to check the tuna!!!!!

    • @cherie, I have been hesitant to try stevia. I’m not really sure why. I heard about it years and years ago, but it just hasn’t appealed to me. Weird. I know.

      • @Jessica, I was too because it was my Dad’s idea LOL.
        However I LOVE it for coffee and use it in other things where I might add sugar – it’s easy to find now and comes in packets, in bigger containers as powder or liquid [my dad prefers liquid]
        Highly recommend it!

      • @Jessica,
        If you try Stevia, go for the pure leaf-not bleached. It’s an herb and the leaf has a very sweet flavor to it. I would stay away from any of the stevia brands that are processed, personally.

  2. I’m not doing the Whole 30 but the Paleo AIP to heal a leaky gut. I’ve noticed many of the things that you have. What also surprised me was how, after a while of simple, basic eating, I notice the flavors of food so much more. Without condiments to “mask” the food, I notice the nuances of individual foods more.

    Glad the chiropractor is helping with your pain.

  3. I’ve been enjoying monkey salad! Since this is cheap strawberry season in South Korea, I’ve been adding strawberries as well. Yummy!

  4. I’ve never done a Whole 30, but I enjoyed “coming along for the ride” as you did yours– thanks for sharing your experiences! Inadvertently a couple weeks ago, I wound up eating grain-free breakfasts and lunches (omelets, fruit, and salad, primarily.) I was SHOCKED at how even my energy levels were. When I ate pancakes on the weekend? Back to the crash/slump up and downs. I need to spend some time analyzing all that and planning for what to do with that information… :)

  5. Thank you so much for posting your experiences. The past few weeks I have been VERY over extended and dealing with 1 deadline after another. I have been feeling more run down and yucky.. Just the other night I went to bed feeling near nauseated and really ill in the gut… I was worried I would be falling ill.. The next morning I read this post(http://goodcheapeats.com/2013/03/grocery-geek-basics/), and the line about sugar making your tired HIT ME like a ton of bricks… I have been *indulging* in WAY more sugar then I have in months…. Sure I see the affects of the sugar and calories in my pants.. but the physical effects had not been connected. Immediately I took action.. slashing the sweetener in my coffee, not indulging in little treats, choosing more protein/produce based snacks instead of the little sweets I have hidden for the kids!

    Thank you SO MUCH!

  6. I’d never heard of Whole 30 before you posted about it, and I’ve enjoyed reading about your experience. I’m trying to limit myself to 15 grams of sugar a day for health and weight reasons.

  7. I did a whole 15 last summer..lol..made it 2 weeks or so and I found that it really did help with my energy levels and random body aches and pains. I no longer have a thyroid due to thyroid cancer and since then I struggle to keep my energy up. However I was also in the middle of a 6 month deployment with a baby and a 3 year old and spending all that time in the kitchen was too much to keep up by myself. I finished my first round of radiation 2 months ago, and after being off thyroid hormone for 10 weeks I’ve now been back on it for six weeks and my energy levels are almost back to normal, but I still just don’t feel quite right. Thinking that a whole 30 would be a good thing to try again! Thanks for all the meal ideas!

  8. I just finished my whole30. You inspired me Jessica! I was a little disappointed by the results though. It did get me thinking about what I eat, and reading labels. But I never got the energy or the great feeling that they talked about! I was grumpy all the time and just felt blah for 30 days. I didn’t eat bad before. But I am breastfeeding, and even though they say its safe, I found other breastfeeding moms had similar results. I think I may try it again someday when I am not nursing. I do like how it got my sugar intake under control though, now I just need to keep at it!

    • @gina, I noticed with other breastfeeding moms that you really have to work to get enough essential fatty acids which are found in a lot of whole grains. If you cut those out, you can often lack energy and sometimes even breastmilk.

    • @gina, I had a problem with being grain-free while breastfeeding, too. In my case, I discovered that it was too hard to get enough carbs and calories to fuel breastfeeding. I tried a Whole 30 at the end of a year of being about 90-95% grain-free because I had begun to get tired and regain the weight I had lost. I thought it was because I was eating too many carbs or cheating too often. (I had originally gone grain-free to deal with many candida problems left over by a complicated C-section and a long period of antibiotic and steroid use.) But the Whole 30 was honestly the *last* thing I needed to do at the time. I have since added back in starches and limited grains and I’m feeling much better… due with #8 in just a few days! I *do* think I needed to go grain-free for a while just to get myself back in balance and also to discover those foods that really did affect me negatively: gluten, soy, and refined sugar. But at the time it seemed like diets like paleo and GAPS were being pushed as permanent conditions, and in my case, it would have been much better if I had only followed such an extreme diet for a short period of time in order to figure out my food sensitivities.

      I blogged about my Whole 30 experience and problems here: http://www.threeplustwo.net/2012/02/plateaus-and-problems-with-paleo.html

  9. Elizabeth Kane says:

    I haven’t done a complete Whole 30, but I have followed a low carb diet for the last couple of years (switching back between low carb and no carb). There were some months throughout the year I did strict Paleo and other months I incorporated some beans, potatoes, and rice. At another point in the year, I experimented with having a “cheat” day (Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour body way) to eat all the carbs I wanted. Usually around 4pm, after french toast, a big sandwich, and dessert, I definitely had my fill of carbs.

    And I agree with you on the sugar! I still have cravings for sweet things, but I eat them in smaller amounts than I used to. For example, I love eating cake and cookies. But if I have those things now, I usually have half of what I used to because my stomach gets upset. Years ago I could eat tons of bread and pasta. Now I feel sick and drowsy throughout the day if I eat even half of what I used to.

    By the way, it’s interesting you mentioned the needing less sleep part of the diet too. I noticed the *exact* same thing on Paleo.

  10. My daughter did it because she has had gut problems her whole life. She has never felt better! In fact she started an instragram and blog sharing with others all the different ways to eat this way. It is not as strict as the Whole 30 program, more like Paleo but it has made the world of difference for her. Her is her blog if you’re interested…she is quite creative!

    http://liverightbehealthy.blogspot.com/

  11. Thank you for sharing your journey and being so forthright about your experience. I have been following along with you and have been wondering what your final conclusion would be. I am contemplating giving this a try as well and am waiting for the book to become available at the library. Did you follow a menu plan or suggestions from the book directly?

  12. Brianne Archer says:

    Thanks for telling your story. I’ve tried to eliminate dairy, wheat, soy, and alcohol in 2013 but it’s SO hard to get rid of soy. Soy Lecithin is in many, many products. I was just diagnosed with endometriosis (they cut some out this past Thursday) and I think eliminating soy is vital to keeping it from growing back.

  13. You mentioned GMO- quality in soy: the whole outrage about GMOs drives me crazy! There is so much misinformation, but there is nothing that would indicate GMOs are harmful. It reminds me a little of global warming naysayers – being against something when there is no evidence against it, be it global warming or genetically modified soybeans. I was in graduate school in plant physiology when GM soybeans were being developed. It is very elegant science, and everyone was excited both for the advances brought by biotechnology (or as we called it molecular biology) and for the possibility of simplifying herbicide applications. I know that this isn’ t what the blog post is about. I follow your blog closely and really enjoy it. I am just tired of the gmo bashing, as tired of it as I am my horse shoer who thinks global warming is a scam perpetuated by the left wing to control people (?).

    • @Trish, could you provide us with some non-biased reputable sources that would show that GMOs are not harmful? I, for one, would be willing to read them.

      • @Cheri A, I didn’t have any ulterior motives in not replying directly to you. I just picked a post to reply to at random. My point is that from a plant physiology point of view, knowing the inner workings of a plant and what is involved in the genetic modification, there is no reason for concern. There aren’t any hidden toxins, just some modified dna – that’s it. The modification involves an amino acid, altered slightly so as to not bind the chemical glyphosate. When I said it was cool science, what I was saying was we as scientists were very excited and impressed by this application of our very technical processes with a direct result and benefit to farmers. I wasn’t being flippant or superficial. Look up the journal ‘toxicological sciences’ and search for the topic. you will find an article discussing the safety of genetically modified plants.

        • @Trish, I didn’t take it that way at all ;) I was just glad that I had come back to check comments, which I usually do not do unless I get a notification. I didn’t take your response as flippant or superficial at all and am sorry if you were offended by my first sentence. I didn’t mean it come across that way, so I’m sorry. I was just truly interested in non-biased information that GMOs are not bad since you seem so passionate about all the misinformation out there. I’ll check out that journal when I’ve got some time, but I suspect I’ll still be avoiding GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and the likes because that’s just how I roll. Thanks.

    • @Trish,
      To me it’s better safe than sorry until it is sorted out safe or not. Something modified just doesn’t sound “natural”. It’s kind of like when farmers add steriods to meat to make the animals grow a certain way (faster!). Why do you think young girls are hitting puberty so early now? I’m not saying GMO’s will have the same effect, but people thought this other practice was once safe to. I say stick as close to nature as you can. Us humans have a way of making things worse sometimes! LOL! I would also be interested in reading info on how GMO’s are not harmful. :)

      • @Jenny, I don’t blame people for being worried, or skeptical – I don’t care what the FDA says I stay away from aspartame. But GMO crops are different. I did find a few articles stating that they are safe, particularly one from the journal ‘toxicological sciences’. Gm crops are not like situations where farmers have used steroids or hormones – there is no compound being put into the plant that will transfer to the consumer. it is merely a modification of the plant’s dna, which would have no impact on our bodies. Yes it is bacterial dna but we consume lots of that on our own. Our dna can’t be modified by the foreign dna we are consuming. The misinformation just frustrates me. Like people who insist on consuming raw food, thinking that enzymes in the food will aid digestion (including my chiropractor). No way! we use our own enzymes, and enzymes are very specific for the conditions they work in – they can’t work in our stomach or digestive tract. They are very pH specific.

        Again, I don’t blame people for being skeptical. Just be receptive to these advances. From a plant science standpoint this is reallly cool science. I don’t think when it was being developed any of the scientists thought there would be public backlash.

        • @Trish, I’m glad I came back and checked this thread since you didn’t directly reply to me. I’d still be interested in reading anything that you have the proves that they are safe to consume long-term. But I think that Monsanto and the likes have thrown big amounts of money out there because they DON’T want us to know what they are putting in our food and the long-term effects to our health because it’s all about the money to them. Consumers who want to know have the right to know what is in the food they consume. Why have so many other countries banned GMOs and the US hasn’t? That’s a real red flag to me. It’s not really about cool science to me. Just because it’s cool science does not make it food that we should be consuming.

        • @Trish, I don’t think there is a problem with GMOs from a health point of view. I agree that it is cool science and that people often have a backlash against things they have no real understanding of. However, I think there is a big problem with GMOS because farmers who don’t want to use them and live next to a farm that does use for instance Glyphosate tolerant crops to eliminate weed competition are in trouble if glyphosate (round up) blows over on their crops. Or if the farmer next door is using a pest resistant GMO, those pests may double up on next door old fashioned farmer’s crops. It’s not the science aspect that is troubling, it’s the commerce. Also-it’s never a good idea to have one corporation be in charge of the world’s food crops–Monsanto has too much power and they may eventually reduce the world’s seed banks with their practices. And BTW–who invented round up in the first place? It’s all hooked in to give Monsanto and the like maximum profit.

  14. Wine is paleo! :) The whole30 is just their idea of what a really clean diet should be. I think the whole30 is really strict and I commend you for sticking with it for 30 days. Wow! I have followed “my” version of paleo for a year and a half and have lost 40 pounds and I love it. I’m doing it forever. I cheat regularly and most of my food comes from Wal-mart. And I am a Christian. I feel a little weird promoting a diet based on a theory I don’t believe in, namely evolution. But to each his own. Good job!

  15. G’day! An interested read about what you learned about your feed. Interestingly, you mentioned you did not think it was sustainable in the long run. (which is fair enough for all to choose)
    Sometimes small changes can make very BIG changes in current and future health.
    With specific regards to sugar, I have been known to make my own sauces (which get two thumbs up from a bloke point of view too :) ) ie tomato, tamari (less salt), Worcestershire etc.
    Most packaged foods = processed foods and are not the healthiest.
    In my opinion “most” people claim they don’t have time to eat healthier because of their lifestyle, when in fact with a little pre planning and bulk cooking you can save money and enjoy eating long term what you eat too! :) Hope this helps too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  16. Lisa Cooper says:

    I don’t know why, but about the time I turned 40, my fat apparently shifted. My weight was the same, but suddenly my jeans bagged in the back and were tighter in the thighs and crotch. Exercising more has not helped.

  17. If you still crave sweets, check out chocolatecoveredkatie.com for healthy desserts. It’s really impressive!

  18. I’m very impressed with your progress. Just know a lifestyle high in meats and animal products is extreemly bad for cholesterol. You get your bad cholesterol from animal products. My husband has bad cholesterol so we cut meat back to 2 times a week (I can’t go 100% vegitarian! LOL!) It put his cholesterol in check and is now okay without use of medications that can make you achey and sick.

    May I suggest to you to watch or read “Hungry for Change” and “Forks over Knives” those are LIFE CHANGING! You can watch it live on your PC on Amazon for like $3.99 and “Forks over Knives” you can watch on your PC free if you have a Prime account. You will be AMAZED at what is actually in our foods and yes you are correct, sugar is in everything. Even some taco seasonings! Did you know sugar feeds cancer cells!? Cancer thrives on sugar! (Learned from the Budwig Diet used to reverse cancer tumors). Good luck! You have great motivation! :)

    • @Jenny, It’s a common misconception that dietary cholesterol is connected directly to blood cholesterol. Fat metabolism is complex, and there have been NO studies showing causation. Fat, particularly animal fat has been demonized completely erroneously. Read Gary Taubes’ stuff for a complete explanation with all the research cited. I went paleo last year and started eating red meat for the first time in30 years. My LDL (bad) cholesterol went down 40 points and it wasn’t high to begin with. Using more butter and coconut oil too. HDL (good) went up, triglycerides, another blood fat, went down 100 points. And I lost 28 lbs without restricting my food intake other than following the diet. Congrats for trying it, and I would really make the effort to keep sugars and grains out of your diet longer term.

    • @Jenny, I agree with Barb. My husband had high bad cholesterol last year. His doctor told him strictly “Red meat once per week. Only two eggs a week, including in baked goods. No butter – use margarine.” My husband went back after a few months, and his bad chilesterol was actually UP, and had to be put on statins.

      For the record, I also followed the doctors advice (because I need to lose weight), and cut my calories and fat intake, and increased my exercise (due to the “calories in, calories out” mantra) and GAINED weight.

      We cut out the carbs and dramatically *increased* our fat intake – at least 2 eggs a day, only cook in butter and olive oil, and red meat whenever we liked. We both actually cut back on the amount of exercise we were doing, down to about 30 minutes to an hour a day. My husband went back for bloodwork and his bad cholesterol was down by a LOT, and he was taken off his medication. It’s been a year and his levels keep going down. (We did not, and still haven’t told the doctor what we did, but he told my husband “whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”)

      We haven’t fine 100% Paleo yet, but we’re researching into starting this Whole 30 thing in July (after the kids are out of school – if they have mood swings like we expect, I’d rather not have the school involved! LOL) but from research, I find that – at least inmy family’s case- the standard food-pyramid and the static beliefs that doctors (including my own brother) are outdated and wrong.

      You might try watching “Fat Head” – it’s the movie that actually got me started looking into all of this stuff.

  19. I found the Whole 30 because of your site. I am thrilled that you completed the program. After I read a few days of your blog on the program I decided to give it a shot. I just completed my 30 days yesterday and it has been one od the best investments in my health and marriage. My hubby did the challenge too. We both have lost an average of 10 pounds, aches are gone, seasonal allergies are non-existant, moods are better and energy is higher than ever. I actually get up at 430 in the morning to make his breakfast before he goes to work. My kids are having an overhaul in the next few weeks, much like you reading labels has been very eye opening. I can’t say I really miss anything other than convenience of picking up a pizza now and again.

  20. I just finished a whole 30 two weeks ago. In the midst of it, I discovered you were doing one also and enjoyed getting some new food ideas from your site. My main reasoning for it was to break a sugar/carb habit. By the end of it I really enjoyed the way of eating and had lost 9 pounds. I’ve had some sugary carb snacks since the end of the 30 days, but I realize I have a hard time with moderation and am realizing I may need to go Paleo for the long haul, but then I remember my love for bread and I half-cry at the thought of its absence . :)

  21. Julie G says:

    I did Whole30 in January. I was suprised at the amount of energy I had. I had been eating five small meals each day, but found out that the three regular meals were much better for my system. I started to hear my body again. I felt hunger and felt very satisfied with the meals and the new food combinations. It was challenging to plan and prepare having a family who were not on board. Been off the plan for two months now due to a hectic work schedule and feeling awful again. Hope to some day get a well working plan that takes minimal effort. Lost 9 pounds after 30 days, not sure how many inches. Found out that I have an issue with milk. When I added it back my face would start itching.

  22. I’m on day 23 today. My constant migraines have gone away. The last one was on day 2, with a mild headache at the end of day 14 or so (and that was because of some very awkward muscle use that put extra strain on my shoulder/neck). Muscle issues (triggering those migraines) are what caused me to give Whole30 a try. My strength has not come back. My range of motion hasn’t really increased. But I think the pain level, when I use those muscles, has decreased. I may need some physical therapy to regain the range of motion and strength. I don’t think I’ve really seen a change in my digestive system, quality of sleep, or energy level. But then, I’m 19 weeks pregnant. I’ve learned to be ok with water, even when it’s closer to room temp. I tried tea without sugar and can’t stand it. I’m eager to be done with the elimination phase and start the reintroduction phase. I really hope I can go back to consuming dairy. I’ll probably continue cutting out grains for the most part, but I’ll definitely experiment with sprouted and/or soaked grains and sourdough. And I miss fresh corn. Sugar isn’t a big thing at all for me, though I do occasionally like to make myself a cup of sweet tea, and I’ll go for sweet tea as opposed to soda at restaurants. I already wanted to avoid soy, but wasn’t strict on it. As for legumes, they’ve always bothered me–except for sweet peas, which I hope to add back to my diet. I’ll add potatoes back in. But I’ll keep the proportions of protein, veggies, and fat in check.

  23. billymirage says:

    If you want to lose weight on the whole30 you have to do at least minimal exercise and follow the instructions specifically, especially the portions of fruits and nuts. I safely lost a belt notch (8lbs) and have keep it off. Looking forward to the challenge of another whole30 soon. It works even better with intermittent fasting i.e.
    leangains.com Try it !

  24. I found the Whole30 through your site and thanks to your recipes and links I was able to follow it for almost 30 days. I stopped at day 28 as this gave me about 4 days before we flew to California, rather than 2!
    After the initial low, I found I had more energy and my clothes were less snug :) and I was surprised I didn’t mind cooking separately for DH and the kids.
    I found myself missing beans and starting to get fed up with steak! Plus I love to bake, so I would find this hard for longer than 30days.
    It also doesn’t seem to fit with lowering the food budget, especially if all 6 of us sat down to steak!
    After 2 week vacation, I will be doing something similar, especially reducing white carbs.

    • @Rebecca, many in my FB group are doing it again with modifications. I think that it’s a decent framework to see how to set your diet up in a way that you’re satisfied, but not overdoing.

  25. I am taking up my mission on April 29 the day after my son’s 26th birthday. I did a nine day and had excellent results, my PMDD dissapeared and I have lost 8 inches here and there. Of course, there may be other factors involved but none on the surface that I can tell.

    Thanks for the excellent post, I do no want my pants tighter so I am going to build my shopping list with an awareness of content control.
    Pam

  26. I did the Whole 30 back in January-February, as part of a challenge with other members of the Crossfit gym I workout at. I also found it easier to follow than I’d anticipated and have felt much better since doing it. I’ve continued following most of the basic guidelines, although I am allowing myself some sugar and an occasional serving of ice cream. For me, though, the biggest change was losing 12 pounds over the 30 days, which I’ve maintained since finishing. I think that, more than anything, has convinced me to keep following these principles.

  27. I did the whole thirty in November I Lost 29 lbs most of it in the stomac area. I went on a cruise with my children and felt great. I had a sugar night last week and I felt awful for two days. I now am trying just to watch what I eat I am in sales and do sometimes miss the lunch this of course is not good I have dropped another 5lbs. This kind of eating is something thatbineant to continue doing and hope to drop about 100 lbs total. I am on my wsy

  28. Thank you for the whole food log! I am going to read, read, and read, and plan, plan, plan before I even attempt this. Obviously with a “southern” food blog, and an intense addiction to sugar (and DAIRRRYY!!!!) I’m terrified, and need to mentally prepare. I also have no willpower. ha

  29. Thanks for sharing this. It’s always interesting to read others experiences with this. We start food elimination about 5 years ago because of some health issues. We have been 99% processed food free for about 4 years, and we eat as healthy as we can – we still eat out but we choose our restaurants based on what they serve! I hear you on the sugar. That was a tough one for me so I just had to go cold turkey. No sugar, so sweet stuff. I haven’t touched an artificial sweetener in about 15 yrs and I’m not about to start now. Anything sweet just increases the craving. But like all things it just gets easier with time. The best part as you mentioned is learning what your body likes and doesn’t like. I know shortly after I eat something if I need to basically never eat it again! Right now my tongue is swollen because I accidentally ate something with rosemary in it for dinner – and yes, there are even herbs that wreak havoc. Funny how we learn things! ;) Thanks again, I look forward to reading more!

  30. Hello All,
    This is the first time I’ve read this blog and, by extension, the first time I’ve commented on it. I was made aware of the Whole30 totally randomly when a friend of a friend posted a link to the website on her FB page yesterday. I decided to click the link and now, just 24 hours later and after a lot of research, I have decided to give it a try; or rather, not try – DO. I ordered the book “It Starts With Food” last night and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Like so many who embark on this dramatic lifestyle change, I have struggled with weight since childhood (I will be 37 next week). I have lost significant amounts of weight over my lifetime, but always gained it back eventually. I’m certain this is because I was “dieting,” not changing my lifestyle or addressing my tumultuous relationship with food. Additionally, I suffer from severe endometriosis, hypermobile joints, and lots of aches and pains. I have also suffered digestive issues (pretty bad right now) for years and feel that doing a strict elimination diet like Whole30 isthe best way to address these issues and get to the bottom of what is negatively impacting my overall health. I know it won’t be easy, but I am probably eating healthier right now than ever before, so I think this is the best time to try it. As I said, my Birthday is next week – June 1st – and that will Day 1. I can do this.

  31. I did the whole 30 last August and felt fantastic. With the holidays, reintroducing foods, I slipped back into regular habits. I just restarted today. I could not believe last time how great my skin looked, how well I slept and how sharp my mind felt– perks I really hadn’t thought about. This time, I am doing it and I am planning on staying on it for the duration of the summer. I was fine with rice and small amounts of corn. And I missed wine. But for the summer, I am going to be meticulous about it. I felt amazing. I’m so mad I slipped off it. And you are right- it’s not weird, but it IS a lot of work.

    • Jessica says:

      It is a ton of work, that is what makes me shy of really doing it this summer. Good luck to you!

  32. I’m just finishing my first week of the whole 30 , it has been an amazing experience so far. I feel proud of my meals now when cooking , having to “paleo-ize” recipes has become something I look for too. I just found your blog tonight as I’m having a sugar craving and this is what I do to fight it , search for blogs about people embarking on the same journey . It’s worked so far so thank you. :) any tips on eating out at resturaunt or a friends house. Right now I feel like I have to decline going dinner invites as I’m sure I would not be able to eat anything or I would be tempted to

  33. Christina says:

    Just a note about Chipotle… Their chicken and steak are cooked in soybean oil. I learned this last year while doing the Whole Life Challenge.

    • Jessica says:

      Yep. I only ate the carnitas during the Whole30. I wrote them, though. They are switching over to rice bran oil. Still not W30 approved, but an improvement.

  34. Hmmm….I am starting week two on this type of diet and didn’t even know it! I was going to juice, but I have severe iron deficiency and a history of anemia and the doctor frowned at my husband when he said we were juicing. We still have juice added to our diet, but as soon as I added meals like this for the protein added to the fruits and veggies, I was feeling so much better. I quit coffee two weeks ago, though and wonder if it was necessary. For the time being, I will continue as it is.

    • It’s so hard to know. Coffee can mess with your blood sugar, so it may be helping you not to drink it. There are so many different factors that seem to play in… exercise, sleep, hydration, nutrition. Our bodies really are complicated machines.

  35. thank you for blogging your meals. reading your notes really helped me to pull together a meal plan! i start my 30 on monday! the most alarming thing that i am coming across in my reading here and elsewhere is how even a small amount of non-compliant food can wreck havoc. shouldn’t our bodies be able to handle a smidgen of soy in our tuna?!

    one question: did you buy grass-fed meat and such?

    • Since I wanted to do the diet the “right” way, I did try really hard not to have that smidgen of soy. The problem is that so many things have just a smidgen, that we end up with quite a bit more. I read one stat that said Americans eat more soy than those who live in Asia.

      I did not buy grass-fed. I tried to get organic when I could, but it was pricey to eat this way.

  36. Hi, I have Chron’s disease and did the whole 30 for autoimmune and then went for a GI scope on the 31st day
    For the first time in 13 years I was ulcer free. I had only 2 spots of inflammation left. Unfortunately, I was so happy and so ready to be done with the whole 30 I went straight to the Mexican restaurant and enjoyed my food; however, my body did not enjoy everything at once being added back in. I am trying to work up the nerve to go through it again and add items back one at a time. The problem is the autoimmune whole 30 is very restrictive.

  37. Bravo Jessica!!! I am so thankful that you shared your Whole30 experience. I am on Day 11, and like you, I eat more towards the healthy side overall, so it’s not a huge leap for me. I already know I am going to keep a lot of the habits I’m learning now–like eating a REAL breakfast as many days as possible, avoiding unneccessary sugars when possible, etc. I feel amazing, healthy, and happy. I am dying to try your monkey salad, but I don’t know where to get coconut flakes. Do they have them at Trader Joe’s?
    I’m also blogging the 30 days, but I am not going to publish it until I’m finished. Do you mind if I reference your site in it? I wanted to ask before I did.
    Thanks so much!

    • Link away! Thanks!

      I found the coconut chips at Sprouts, but I’ve also ordered Bob’s Red Mill’s online. Trader Joe’s are sweetened. :(

      • Oh go figure!! Lol. We are lucky enough to have Bobs at my grocery store so I will check there.

        I will send you the link on e it is all posted :)

        Thanks so much!!!
        –Sara

  38. Doing Whole 30 now. I am seeing the pounds fall off… I am craving less sugar and feeling better internally. I like the increased energy and more regular sleep cycles. Can’t wait to see results on day 30!

  39. I haven’t read all the comments, but if you are trying to avoid soy, you’ll have to work really diligently to avoid most animal products, since the vast majority of soy grown in the world goes to either animal feed, soybean oil, or soy protein isolate. It’s hard to be a meat-eater and avoid soy (through the food chain).

  40. This will be my second whole 30 and I found my clothes fitted me better on day 30. The difference in my face was undeniable. I still struggle with sugar but make every effort not to have them and remind myself why I am not having them (insulin resistance). Losing weight for me was ad added bonus but I still have a long long way to go as I have an underactive thyroid. So much to consider but Paleo has definitely assisted me with all of this.

  41. Thank you so much for posting your thoughts on the Whole30, and especially your food log. I was looking into it since I remembered seeing your posts months back and am looking to be healthier, but as I re-read your posts, I realize that it would just not work for me. A common theme I saw in your posts was how hard it was to balance your different diet from your family’s, and as a full-time working mom of a 4-year old, I think it would definitely add too much stress to my day. Your meals looked really yummy, but eating breakfast and lunch at work (and having to prepare these meals the night before) would just be stressful, not to mention eating an entirely different dinner from my family! Thank you for the insight (and for saving me the stress).

    • I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this and what habits (besides the ingredients omissions) I think were a step out of my norm and might contribute to the success of this diet. I’ll be posting them next week. Stay tuned. I think it will be a very doable thing for most people.

    • Jessica, I don’t think it would be that hard with a family. We have 3 kids (only every other week) and have done quite well. Of course, my fiancee had to be on board with me! Our main evening meal is whatever meat we are eating, a veggie side, a salad for us. The kids usually want to have some kind of bread, or we will make a quick pasta with butter and parm for them. Working full time, your challenge would be pre-planning your lunches when you prepare dinner. Best of luck!

  42. i made my own almond milk and put that in my coffee with cinnamon.thanks for some great ideas! I am on day 10 of the Whole 30,and I also seem more clear headed.

  43. I am just reading your posts and planning on my whole30 starting on Monday. I understand I need to be extremely strict during the 30days, does that mean I should try to avoid fruits since they contain quite abit of sugar?

    • They recommend in the book that fruits should be a very minimal part of your experience. Like one or two servings a day.

    • As the book says….fruit is FOOD, not sugar. You have to completely avoid added sweeter of any kind. We have found fruit as an integral part of our Whole 30. My fave: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, coconut, almonds and coconut milk for our dessert. YUM. Good luck!!

  44. My fiancee and I am on Day 21. Much like your thoughts, it hasn’t been that difficult and it has made me keenly aware of what is in the food we eat. I have read more labels this month than ever before and can’t believe how much sugar is in our staples. This will definitely change my attitude for life. The thing I am finding after 3 weeks is that we are tired of eggs, fruit/coconut/coconut milk, salad, etc. Through your blog of your Whole30, I am going to try sweet potato hashbrowns tomorrow morning! Also, never thought of Chipotle of being ok. We miss going out occasionally. But the biggest thrill is discovering we can have Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage. A couple of personal discoveries have been how good spaghetti squash is, butternut squash puree is delicious, and cauliflower mash is better than mashed potatoes (in my book!). Thanks for your article, it has encouraged me to finish strong!
    Lori

  45. From reading some comments I’ve noticed a pattern, most people here are addicted to grains! They revert because it’s hard to stay away from grains? Something that I’ve done that’s helped A LOT is to convince myself that grains are GROSS! Instead of saying “I can’t have donuts” I say “I don’t want donuts” Give it a try it works!

  46. Great success you got there! Are you still doing the whole30?

    • I did it only for the 30 days last spring. I like a lot of the things about the program and will do it again sometime. Right now, as a food writer, I just can’t fulfill my obligations on so strict a diet.

  47. Wow! What a great website and also a great review of the whole 30. I’m just on day 1 and got the headache already. Looking forward to seeing how I get on! Thanks for the great recipes.

  48. I’m starting my own first Whole30 experiment next Saturday and found your blog while searching for additional Whole30 information. I enjoyed reading about your journey and plan to use some of your recipes. Thanks!

  49. Try the beauty detox solution by Kimberly Snyder. It’s a much more sustainable approach to eating than Paleo or whole30.

  50. I did it to feel better, not just lose weight. It was good to be disciplined in my eating, and I didn’t realize how much sugar is thrown at me everyday.

    People thought I was in shape before, but I was really about 15 pounds over my suggested healthy weight. I lost eight pounds and can start to see my abs again. I feel better, but still tired and REALLY miss sugar.

    I’m going to keep going a little longer until I have more energy again, but hopefully now from sleep, excercise, and a more balanced life.

  51. I’m doing my second Whole30 now. I finished one in May 2013. Cheese and dairy are so hard for me to ignore. I have the added bonus of the diagnosis of diabetes and used to have seasonal allergies. For those reasons, my doctor suggested W30. It’s strict and I am craving the world, but by reading your experience and that of others, I know I will make it just fine. I’ve never minded cooking, but I sure do spend a lot of time chopping stuff! Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. Your very honest account is what I was looking for :)

  52. Shay Shepherd says:

    I recently completed the plan with a co worker who supported me to the end. That was the most helpful part of the plan..to have a buddy to talk through challenges and victories. At the end I felt better, my clothes felt better, I had no cravings, my blood pressure came down to normal, I had no daily aches and pains and lost a meager ten pounds.

    Adding back foods gradually has shown me I cant do sugar and pasta and dairy. But I found substitutes in natural honey, gluten free pasta, almond milk and Lactaid milk. I even found a sugar free ice cream branded So Good …and it is!!

    My favorite meals were eggs with veggies or salmon with salad and veggies and I learned to mix lots of colorful veggies with a protien to keep it interesting every meal.

    I have modified my daily intake of all foods in better, healthier ways and that is the best change of all. The ten pounds didn’t seem like much but the greater loss is in inches and my body is still resculpting itslef as I continue to detoxify it and my life to reduce inflamation that is visible from my face down throughout my leaner and trimmer body.

    I can truly say The Whole Thirty changed my Whole Life for more than thirty days!

  53. I’m just starting the Whole 30 and I have a constant headache, but my stomach feels thinner. Jessica, I read most of your blog, but I don’t recall reading that you lost weight after your Whole 30. Did you lose and if so, how much?

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  1. […] I went sugar-free last winter and it was an eye-opening experience. I had been consuming 3 teaspoons of sugar in my coffee every morning. Since the recommended limit of sugar for women is 5 to 6 teaspoons per day, you can guess that I was far exceeding that amount every day. Average Americans consume between 22 (for adults) and 34 (for teens) of sugar a day! […]

  2. […] so, I’ve done reading and research and experimented a lot in the kitchen. I’ve gone on elimination diets to test my body for sensitivities. Currently, our family is on a fast from processed […]

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