Whole 30: 30 Days of Clean Eating

30 Sep

We’re going to skip the part about me being a bad blogger, and jump straight to what we’ve been up to these last 30 days, ok? Good.

This summer Calvin and I had adopted a paleo lifestyle for the majority of our meals. We didn’t completely convert with everything though (aka: we still loved our craft beer several times a week and indulged at our favorite pizza place far more often than our stomachs or bank accounts preferred). But we felt pretty good about our 80% commitment and didn’t really see a reason to take it any further.

Then we went to Europe for ten days. Oh yeah, “Hey blog, we went to Europe for ten days!” Numerous pictures and stories to tell about that one day, but back to paleo. It was vacation, we were experiencing another culture (one that loved their potatoes prepared any way as much as they loved their fish and chips) so our 80% paleo effort stayed on the other side of the Atlantic. But our stomachs didn’t seem to like that situation very much.

We returned to the States and tried to fall back into our semi-paleo way of life, but doing something halfway is a hard thing to re-adopt. So when my sweet sister-in-law asked me if I had ever heard of whole 30, I knew this just might be the commitment I needed to figure out what my eating habits really should be. I’d read about whole 30 a lot through researching paleo, but it sounded pretty extreme and intimidating. Calvin was not on board.

However, after a weekend spent on the lake indulging in all kinds of delicious junk food (and paying for it on the way back to Memphis), Calvin told me he had changed his mind. We made a plan with Mary and set our start date for September 1st. Our journey of a month with no dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, sugar, or processed food of any kind was about to begin.

So what did we eat? Lots of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats (primarily tree nuts and coconut). While it may seem limiting, when you stop and think about how many different kinds of meats, veggies, and fruits there are and how many different ways you can prepare them, you realize you can literally go 30 days without eating the same thing twice if you wanted.

We cooked more this month than I think we ever have in any 30 days of marriage. While we didn’t eat out a whole lot for meals we shared together before, these 30 days showed us how often we would just run out and grab something for a quick lunch or dinner should we happen to be rushed and unable to eat together. And for a girl that doesn’t just love to spend her free time in the kitchen, I really enjoyed all the extra time we shared there together this month prepping and cooking meals.

But you’re probably thinking that all sounds well and good, but tell me more about what made this challenging and what you learned from it. Well, glad you asked! It was definitely hard, especially the first 8-9 days. Sugar cravings are no joke. Even though we had done a pretty good job of cutting back on sugar through doing paleo for several months, the complete omission of sugar (even natural sugars like pure honey) is rough for us sugar-crazed Americans. It was most helpful to eat a good breakfast with a full serving of protein and some healthy fats with nothing sweet to help fill me up and not wake up my sweet tooth earlier than necessary. And while whole 30 doesn’t encourage a lot of snacking (your meals should fill you up and keep you full until your next one) if I was hungry I would snack on some raw veggies or mixed nuts to keep me from thinking about cookies or cupcakes until my next meal.

After a few days into the second week, I was getting better at building my portions to adequately fill me up and snacking less. The sugar cravings still happened occasionally, but they were much more manageable. The hardest part was fighting temptations that were right in front of me. You know, potluck on the floor at work, offers to go out for drinks with friends, sitting in pizza restaurants and only drinking water, the ice cream fundraiser at the office, all those delicious things that just seem to pop up. My stubbornness to finish what I start was actually a blessing in these situations.

Week three came and suddenly I felt like a brand new person. The cravings were essentially gone and I had consistent energy levels all day long. Did you know that it’s not normal to be tired at 2:30 every day? Or that some people can wake up with or before their alarm and feel energized and ready for the day? Yeah, me either. But I’m here to tell you that I am totally a believer now. I have never been a morning person, but now I can barely sleep past 7:30-8:00 (yes even on Saturdays), I have energy all day long, and when I start to get tired at night I go to bed and sleep soundly. This, people, is worth all the rule following for 30 days! Here’s a fun little graphic with a link to the full article outlining what you can expect during your whole 30.


So we start reintroducing foods tomorrow. We’ll eat several different types of dairy throughout the day and observe how we feel while going back to the full whole 30 diet for the two days following. Grains with gluten come just in time for our weekend in Starkville; fist pumps for Stromboli’s! Although I fully expect to feel pretty miserable afterwards. Gluten-free grains get reintroduced on the 7th, and we wrap up with legumes on the 10th. It’s a little nerve wracking to start adding these things back in, but I’m really looking forward to knowing how each of these food groups affect me so I can make well-informed choices with my food.

I promise to come back with a full update after the 10th to see which of these food groups are the biggest culprits for inconsistent energy levels, headaches, and heartburn. Should be fun! If you want to know more about whole 30 I highly recommend reading It Starts With Food. The authors have done their research and have testimonies of thousands of people who experienced a similar and often more extreme transformation than Calvin and I. Their website, whole9life.com is also a great resource. And of course we’d be happy to share the recipes and other resources we used to help us on our journey or answer any questions if you want to know more.


7 Responses to “Whole 30: 30 Days of Clean Eating”

  1. Phil Ray October 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM #

    Sounds like something Peg and I need to do. Thanks for sharing.

    • Amanda October 1, 2013 at 4:23 PM #

      Their website and the book have an extensive list of things eating this way has “cured” in people. It’s pretty incredible how our health is affected by what we eat. Would love to talk to y’all more about it if you’re interested.

  2. Cyntia October 2, 2013 at 10:51 AM #

    Yay! So glad I got to read this. Very helpful.

    • Amanda October 2, 2013 at 11:23 AM #

      Yay! How is yours going? I’m so curious to see what others’ think!

      • Cyntia October 2, 2013 at 11:28 AM #

        We’re being as conscious as we can with our meal choices and cook from “it starts with food” for dinner a lot but I’m really just trying to make it to our wedding day alive. haha! Thinking it’s something that will be easier to follow through fully when our weekends/weeknights are not jam packed with events. I will let you know after we fully implement!

      • Amanda October 2, 2013 at 11:57 AM #

        Whew, I’m so glad to hear that! When Calvin told me Ryan said y’all were doing it I was worried it would be way too difficult with wedding planning. Now is not the time to totally change the way you eat :)

  3. Cori D. October 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM #

    Thanks for stopping by over at The Journey. I enjoyed reading about your experience and that graphic about the first few days cracked me up! :)

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