*By: Megan Deppen*
It’s a new year and like many of us, we want to start the year off right, which usually means exercising and eating healthy. A few years ago, I heard about the Whole30 Program from my sister and was curious to try it out for myself. I thought, clean eating for 30 days, how hard can this really be? Well let me tell you, I thought I ate a relatively healthy diet until the Whole30 Program opened up my eyes to what clean eating was really about. What intrigued me about this program was that it wasn’t a drastic diet, but a sensible plan to eat real, clean, and whole foods.
The program is designed to identify what foods you may have a sensitivity or allergy to, which is why you cannot eat grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, or alcohol for 30 days. Does that make you want to quit before you start? I promise it’s worth trying this program, and you will learn a lot from doing it. Also, to note, this isn’t a program that you should do forever because it’s important to have grains, dairy, and legumes in your diet. Once your 30 days are completed, you can slowly start incorporating some of these food groups back into your diet.
Here are some things I learned from my Whole30 experience:
- It’s hard as hell at first, but trust me it gets better – The first time I did this program, it was really tough. The first day or two wasn’t so bad, but then I started missing sugar, dairy, and grains in my life. You will have withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but don’t allow it to break you down. You are stronger and have more willpower than you think! Once you get through the first 10 days, you will notice your body will start to adjust, and you will have more energy. To my surprise, by the end of the program, foods that I would normally crave (Hello, ice cream?), I didn’t have a craving for anymore.
- Purchase the book, The Whole30 – The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom– This book is fantastic and has so many great recipes. It also includes a shopping list and what ingredients you can and can’t have on the program. Some of my favorite recipes from the book are stuffed peppers and classic chili.
- Read your food labels carefully – Many foods have sugar, but what I didn’t know is that so many foods have added sugars in them. Also, there are so many different oils in foods and not all of them are good for you. I learned so much about reading food labels and what to look for. For more about healthy grocery shopping, check out our post Nothing as It Seems: My Endless Conflict with the Grocery Store.
- Be prepared to cook meals – Since I completed this program, they do have a lot more Whole30 approved foods in the grocery store, and you can also shop for them here. However, still be prepared to cook a lot of your meals. I would suggest meal planning for the week, so you don’t become ‘hangry’ and are scrambling at the last minute to make a meal. Also, keep Whole30 approved snacks on hand at all times, so when that hunger strike sets in, you are covered! Some great snacks include raw nuts, fruits, raw veggies, Larabars (not all are Whole30 approved, so check your labels).
- Keep a food journal – This really helped me get through the process and to identify how I was feeling each day. One thing I did learn, was oftentimes I found myself eating too much of one food, for example nuts and fruits. Don’t overdo it on one food and try to eat a variety of foods throughout the day.
Have you tried the Whole30 Program? Leave your comments below.