If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably noticed that I began a Whole30 earlier this month. This was not my first Whole30, but it is the first one I’ve done in 3 years. This is significant for me because I had a whole different attitude going into it this time around. Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and then Lyme disease, my lifestyle is drastically different than it was in 2014. So what did I notice this time around as I finished a Whole30?
The biggest thing that surprised me when I was preparing for the Whole30 this time around is the allowed foods. It had been so long since I had done it, and I’ve spent the last 2 years working on healing from the inside out that I didn’t even realize that the Whole30 was basically my normal way of eating, minus one or two things.
So I just couldn’t bear to beat myself up about this diet, knowing that it wouldn’t really be ending after the 30 days. And this brings me to the things I learned on the Whole30.
- It’s not for everyone. This eating plan offers some fantastic guidelines for people who are looking to go from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one. It outlines allowed foods, along with what you can’t have, and meal planning. However, it’s not one size fits all. And while it’s definitely doable, it’s not something that everyone should try. You need to know yourself before you commit.
- Extreme doesn’t mean better. Obviously we know this is the case, but for some reason when it comes to diets, women tend to get a little crazy (myself included). I’ve been on some EXTREME diets, a few of which were doctor supervised. Does that mean they were good for me? NO. There are some people who love a challenge. They thrive under pressure, and they love pushing themselves. Those people would do great with the Whole30 because it’s basically a 30 day challenge to transform your eating habits. Not a bad thing, but again, not for everyone.
- Use it as a guideline. For those of you that have a personality more like myself, you may do better with baby steps. I discussed this a couple of weeks ago, and I still stand by it. Replacing a few things at a time with healthier options can really help to lead to lasting changes in your lifestyle. Challenges stress me out, and the thought of failing one is something that I can’t deal with easily. Since I have a history of an eating disorder, I have to be careful how I approach things like this, or it could lead into an obsession, or even put me back into eating disorder territory. No, thank you.
- Know your potential triggers. One of the things that really turned me off in my research was the wording on the website: “Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” and “You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles’.” Sure, if the entire premise of the diet was just drinking your coffee black then I can understand where they are coming from. But it requires more than that. A LOT MORE. So basically stating that anyone who makes a mistake (which is all of us at some point, because we are human with human instincts) is basically not worth encouraging to continue on their way to health because they ate peanut butter…. it’s not like they’re birthing a baby. NO. This is not ok. Shaming people for any reason is not ok. And as someone who has done the Whole30 and birthed 2 babies, I can say with absolute certainty that THEY ARE BOTH HARD. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. This type of wording (or ‘tough love’ as they call it) is something that would have triggered my eating disorder if I tried and failed the Whole30 even a year or two ago. So if you know that something will trigger you, avoid it.
- What is your reason? Are you doing it as a healthy eating challenge? For long-term changes? To give up sugar? To lose weight? Whether or not the Whole30 is for you depends on your reason for considering it. It really is a great basis for a healthy lifestyle, but if you feel the need to personalize it, then do that. You’re not a failure because it isn’t right for everyone. What matters is you’re trying to make a change, and many of us (myself included) make more lasting changes by taking smaller steps to achieve them.
So while this is a great challenge for people to learn more about their eating habits, make healthy changes, and give up things like sugar, bread, and dairy… it’s a very extreme diet and it is not for everyone. It takes time to get to a place where you can get used to eating healthy, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of if you aren’t ready for such a big change all at once.
Find your reason. Find your limits. And work your way to getting healthier at a pace that will work for you and your life.
And regardless of how long it takes you, remember that you’re awesome for not giving up.
Have you ever done a Whole30 or similar challenge?