I am sure it feels like everyone is posting about W30 – I see it all over my instagram feed and facebook groups. I think there are lots of reasons to want to do a Whole 30, but the catch phrase of a “reset” isn’t the one I would chase. I wanted to do a Whole30 for a few reasons. The primary being my eczema. Being dairy free did NOT eliminate it completely, but has had a big enough effect that I was hopeful that an elimination diet would answer some questions I had about it. Secondly because I was getting buried deep into food guilt, going to sleep each night feeling bad about choices I’d made and sick to my stomach, literally, from overeating on “good” junk (aka: high quality milk shakes ;)). Also because I like “challenges” and a month feels like a really manageable amount of time to try out a lifestyle change. And, finally, because I was ready to break the calorie counting/macro tracking/scale obsessed habits that I nearly always fall into in the winter.
Should you Whole 30? Obviously, only you know the answer to that. I think a lot of whether or not you would enjoy/benefit from a whole30 is personality. Do rules make you want to rebel? Or do they make you feel safe? (There are a LOT of rules). Do you have reasons, outside of weight loss, that you want to pursue eating more whole? Or are you looking for a weight loss solution (it isn’t one, it has that as a side effect for some people, but it isn’t a weight loss program at all)?
I did my first W30 (day one of my second one starts right. now.) with a little group of friends. Our results varied greatly! I adored the program, and felt free/guiltless for the first time in…. ever? Two of my friends felt triggered by all the rules and guidelines and found themselves not eating as much as their bodies needed, and chose to remove the rules and decide that “if it felt worth it to eat something outside of W30, that’s just fine.” and then had way more success with eating more whole/balanced meals. Another friend followed it closely and had big changes in body (skin especially!) and confidence and calm, but chose to eat “non compliant” after the W30 and then possibly do another soon.
A few things to ask yourself before you W30, to set yourself up for some success.
Are you a planner or an intuitive eater? If you are a planner: meal plan specifically for each.day. And shop accordingly. If you are more intuitive (want to eat what “sounds good” each day) then meal plan loosely (five meal “options” and then list them somewhere BIG in your kitchen) and shop for those meals, that way you have some freedom in your eating without going off the deep end.
Is your family on board? If not; Buy yourself a splurge set of amazing tupperware, make your meals ahead, have snacks already bagged and ready, have lots of easy and amazing prepped options on hand. Stock up on fruit and fresh veggies that are ready to eat and washed. If so; think about what your family likes (are they big juice drinkers? coffee consumers? grazers? or sit down meal eaters?) and PLAN ACCORDINGLY. Have snacks (kid friendly!) on hand to offer, have tiny portions ready, have watered fresh juices on hand for them, have frozen berries for a treat, use this as a time to buy higher quality coffee so it tastes GOOD black or with no sweets.
Know yourself! Sit down, have an honest sit with a journal, and think about what your triggers are (playdates? happy hours? hungry grocery shopping? that ‘nap drive’ coffee?) and plan for them. What will you bring/do/eat in those situations. Buy yourself an emergency car snack (Lara Bar, heyo!) and a water bottle to keep with you.
Have real expectations for yourself! This is a gift you’re giving your body. It isn’t a punishment. And if you are in the midst of it and feeling bad/worse about yourself/not eating enough, then take a step back. Think about your goals for the W30 and if you are getting closer to them (this should be mentally, NOT physically) or if it’s taking you further (more guilt, more restricting, less freedom) and STOP! It’s important to be really self aware during the whole process and know that yes you CAN give up a few things for 30 days (it’s only 30 days!) but it it is causing you do have disordered eating/thoughts and feel worse mentally, it is likely not the right program for you. And that’s okay!
I’m starting my second Whole 30 today, I’m really excited! I feel like I still have quite a bit of mental work to be done. And am looking forward to seeing what I learn and how I grow and change through this second round. Here We Go!
Also, our Whole 30 Mamas (but open to Non-Mamas too ;)) is active and awesome if you want to join, find us on Facebook!