Good Eating Habits from the Whole 30

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I’m trying to decide how much of my good feeling experience from the Whole 30 was good habits (no snacking, eating breakfast, etc) or the new ingredients themselves or the lack of certain ingredients….

Good Habits from the Whole 30 - I'm trying to decide how much of my good feeling experience from the Whole 30 was good habits (no snacking, eating breakfast, etc) or the ingredients themselves or the lack of certain ingredients....

Long time readers will remember my Whole 30 experience from last year. According to the calendar, it coincided almost perfectly with our current sugar fast. What is it with me about crazy food things in late winter?

Anyway, while the Whole 30 didn’t solve my aches and pains, I did experience some great benefits. Some of the Whole 30 recipes I developed then are still family favorites.

I outlined the positives I experienced in this post about what I learned on the Whole 30. The thing that I long for most is the incredible amount of energy I felt once I got through the first couple weeks. I was hopping out of bed at 4am without the need for coffee. It was amazing.

I’ve thought about that for a whole year, trying to figure out how to reclaim some of that good feeling. It wasn’t a perfect experiment. I added ingredients that I had never before had. I ate more coconut, sweet potatoes, bananas, and eggs than I normally do. I omitted certain ingredients as you well know: dairy, grains, gluten, alcohol, sugar, and soy. I changed my habits in general: no snacking, eating three solid, meals drinking lots of water, etc.

Which thing made me feel great or was it a combination of all of them?

I’ve been ruminating about some of the habits of the Whole 30 and wanting to give them a shot when it comes to my diet. I don’t know that this season of life allows me the work and grocery budget involved in the whole 30 shebang, but my thinking is that when that time does come around again, I could have the habits in place so that the experiment would be a little more scientific.

If I really wanted to go all techy, I’d also do a series of weeks where I added in the coconut, sweet potatoes, bananas, and eggs, and see what happened then. (I got an A in AP Biology, but that was many moons ago. Tell me if I’m on the right track, sciency people.)

Good Habits from the Whole 30 - I'm trying to decide how much of my good feeling experience from the Whole 30 was good habits (no snacking, eating breakfast, etc) or the ingredients themselves or the lack of certain ingredients....

Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables

For now, let’s look at the good eating habits the Whole 30 espouses:

Good Eating Habits

  • Make your plate 50% fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Eat three meals. No snacks.
  • Eat breakfast before you have coffee.
  • Limit processed foods. Bonus points for omitting it completely.
  • Limit added sugars. Bonus points for omitting it completely.
  • Limit alcohol. Bonus points for omitting it completely.
  • Daily exercise.

I’ve got some purpose. Now I just need some will power. Got any to spare?

What do you think?

Have you done the Whole 30? Are these common-sense eating habits ones that would be easy for you? Chime in and tell us what you think!

PS. If you are investigating this type of elimination diet, check out my Whole 30 recipes and Whole 30 meal plan.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Adi says:

    I also feel great when I do a Whole 30. I did one last year and again last month. As a result, I had some weight loss and definitely more energy. I am trying to continue eating this way with just an occasional indulgance. Your grocery bill is more expensive when you are buying only “real” food and no processed foods or grains, but it is worth it.

    • Did you already have good eating habits or did you improve those at the same time as when you pulled out the other stuff?

  2. Becky says:

    Love the idea behind the whole 30, but the only animal proteins I eat are seafood and eggs. I don’t think I could do without my beans. I have been playing with doing more meals without the grains/ and dairy; sugar is still a vice for me. The meal in your first picture looks yummy – what is it??

    • I don’t want to give UP anything. 😉 That’s why I’m hoping that better habits will achieve similar results. 🙂

      That is a recipe from an upcoming cookbook: it’s a brussels sprouts and sweet potato hash with fried eggs. Sorry, no recipe to link to. 🙁

  3. Deb says:

    Where is the recipe for the dish in the second picture? It looks delicious too.

  4. Just curious if you’ve ever tried the Paleo AIP plan for your pain? It’s a very strict program, but it is supposed to help with inflammation and pain. A 30 day trial might be interesting, both for your physical health and to see what creative meals you could make with the food omissions.

    • You know, I don’t really have a lot of confidence in paleo fixing my pain. My hip pain was WORSE at the end of the 30 days than when I started. I am not convinced that diet changes would touch it. It seems to be a weak core and pelvis.

  5. Donna says:

    Hi Jessica — I found that eliminating lectin containing grains and legumes as well as excessive polyunsaturated fats (generally contained in processed and fast foods) was the key for me. I highly recommend Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet’s book Perfect Health Diet. They are both scientists and the book is very sciency, haha. The quick and dirty recommendations for improving health are eliminating or minimizing wheat and lectin containing grains and legumes, excessive polyunsaturated fats, and excessive fructose. They actually recommend a quantity of “safe” starches such as rice and potatoes. Give it a look if you have the chance! Cheers, Donna

  6. Angela says:

    Personally, I think the biggest reasons people feel better on the Whole 30 are the lack of processed foods and the increase in vegetables. If you have undiagnosed sensitivities to soy or gluten (or both) that would play a huge role, too. I tried a Whole 30 after a year of eating grain-free/low carb and felt worse — more tired, etc — because I wasn’t eating enough food or carbs to fuel my activity, and hadn’t been for some time. But when I initially went grain-free, I felt amazing and lost a lot of weight… probably because I did have sensitivities to both gluten and soy and cane sugar, and I replaced the grains with another serving or two of vegetables. If you were going to test food sensitivities, you can do that scientifically by taking all gluten containing grains (for instance) out of your diet for a period (3 weeks or 30 days, whatever) while leaving everything else about your diet the same. If you feel better and then worse after you reintroduce gluten containing grains, you probably have a gluten sensitivity. The problem with those challenges like the Whole 30 are (as you said) that they change *so* much all at once, so you can never tell what is actually making you feel better. Instead, it’s made to seem like you need the whole package, when in reality it may only be one or two things that you’ve changed that have made the difference.

  7. I think anyone who does half this list regularly will already feel better! I usually aim to do most of them, and whenever I succeed, I feel really, really good.

  8. I’ve been doing a fitness challenge the past 4 weeks. The primary change I made was drinking 80 oz of water, and cutting out most of the sugars. I lost 5 pounds, and no longer have the 2pm slump. I had been consuming so much chocolate that I had a caffeine headache the first few days. I don’t drink coffee, so that might have been a factor as well. I’m hoping to keep these habits. I’ve been loving my new energy.

  9. Erin K says:

    I’m gluten intolerant and when I eat gluten I get very, very tired. But, I also think sugar probably makes me crash throughout the day and adds to that as well.

    I wonder a lot about eliminating foods from my diet to try to find a sweet spot of feeling great and eating in a way that I can sustain long term, but with kids and a budget it’s hard!

    • Donna says:

      I hear you Erin! It is really hard with kids. I admire Jessica’s ability to get her kids on board a no added sugar month. My kids would mutiny!

      • Ha! Honey and maple syrup cover a multitude of complaints.

        • Angela says:

          Amen to that.
          I’ve learned to make chocolate milk using maple syrup + cocoa powder instead of chocolate syrup. It’s still a treat, but I don’t feel as bad when my son drinks it. 😉

  10. Carol B. says:

    I am thinking of doing a Whole 30 myself. When I first read about you doing this and what all you cut out, I sort of ticked off the list for myself with what I thought I could handle. “No alcohol? OK no problem. I rarely cook with it and we don’t drink. No dairy? Wow. OK I love cheese but that’s doable. No grains? Oh wow. That’s a big one. Not sure I can handle that. Man. No pasta or bread. Ok Maybe. I can do it. No Sugar? Stop the car, I need to get out. No sugar or artificial sweeteners? How am I supposed to drink coffee with nothing to sweeten it? So no coffee?! And no chocolate, cookies, cakes?! Oh heck no!” I went back and forth like this for a few months. 🙂 I thought you might find this funny.

    Clearly, since I really did have such a strong reaction to giving up grains and sugars/sweeteners, it *might* just be something I have a teensy, little problem with. So my question is this: I love veggies, and love eating them raw. Since we also cannot have legumes (no hummus) to go along with no dairy, do you have some ideas or recipes for vegetable dips that would be considered OK? (I did see the guacemole and figured that would be a good alternative too.) I’m trying hot teas without sweetener. I just cannot do black coffee. Bleh.

    Thank you!

    • I made dips with homemade mayonnaise and guacamole, like you said. I have given up coffee in the last week and feel amazingly better. I am not sure what it was (the coffee or the cream), but I was feeling really bloated all the time. That is gone now.

  11. Donna says:

    I was thinking of doing the Whole30 but like some other commenters, I feel like there is SO much to change all at once, and it is SO restrictive, that I feel I’d be setting myself up to fail. I do know that I am wheat intolerant, and that I can eat very small amounts in gravies, sauces, breadings and the like. but anything wheat heavy and I have joint pain, ataxia, excema, and behavioral side effects. The funny thing is we tried going gluten free to see if it would improve my kids’ ADHD; it didn’t help them but I felt 100 percent better.

    As I commented earlier, I do follow the principles of the perfect health diet and the elimination of wheat, excessive sugar, and seed oils made a huge difference in the whole family’s health, but we don’t seem to be grain or dairy intolerant. I don’t know, maybe I would feel even better without homemade cookies and cheese, but what kind of life would that be? haha

    • I think we each have to find that balance. I think healthy can be tasty. But we have to allow for fun food, too.

  12. Ellen K says:

    I’m starting the Whole30 tomorrow and I’m bringing my 11-year-old daughter and my somewhat skeptical husband along for the experience. The burden of shopping and keeping meals and brought-from-home lunches yummy and satisfying are on me, but I am committed. Or maybe I should be committed… I really can’t see any downside… I checked with my pediatrician and he said it would be fine. I am very excited to have found your blog. I loved reading about your experience, seeing your meal choices and hearing your results. Thank you for taking the time to write about it so honestly (and with a wonderful sense of humor). You are making a difference and I will be using a great many of your recipes. Keep up the good work!

    • Best of luck to you! There are a few freezer cooking plans over on my Life as MOM blog. Did you see those? They might help you get ahead of the game. Let me know if you need any help.

  13. Angela says:

    I’ve done a Whole 30 and am now eating mostly Paleo.
    I feel better and have much more energy – which is a big deal because I’m also on thyroid meds. I have learned that bread in large quantities is not good for me (which makes me sad because I like to bake- but the side effects are just not worth it). Dairy doesn’t bother me. Hubs has also noticed some issues with gluten. I think the biggest and best part of it is the increase in veg – and now I reach for a fruit instead of a chocolate when I’m craving something sweet (although I have developed a taste for dark chocolate).

    • We’re on day 13 and not feeling anything magical. If it weren’t for my parents, I think I would quit.

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