Why I'm An Advocate For The Whole30
This time of year there is a lot of talk about wanting to get back into shape, lose weight or cut out a bunch of things to feel healthier. No matter where you look - tv, magazines, social media, etc. - the weeks leading up to January 1st are all about being healthier in the new year.
While I don't have any research to back up this claim, I think it's safe to say that January is the biggest month for most weight loss programs & gyms. That's usually what people have as a New Year's Resolution - "I want to lose weight." (Thankfully I created 50 other resolutions you can make that have nothing to do with weight loss! Whew!)
With the type of work I do in the wellness world, diet talk is looked down upon. My values are rooted in loving yourself as you are today and trying to make peace with food rather than always making it the enemy. I've done plenty of diets in the past and, from personal experience, I can tell you they've never worked for me. Sure, I'd always lose weight when I was ON the diet but, the second I lived a regular life, the numbers started climbing again.
For most of my life, up until about 2 years ago, I was consistently yo-yo dieting. I grew up in a home where someone was always on some type of diet or where we were always fighting against our cravings. For as long as I can remember, the focus has always been on my body and my weight and how I could get it to change and be smaller.
None of that really changed until I started having my gut issues back in 2014. Sure, it was in the back of my mind still but in the forefront was, how can I stop having this awful pain and discomfort in my gut? Why is this happening? How did I create this? What am I doing wrong? I don't think I truly stopped thinking about my weight and size until 2015 when I did my first Whole30.
Again, in the body positive & intuitive eating community, even the Whole30 is looked down upon simply because the program asks you to eliminate certain foods from your life for 30 days. In this community, there are a lot of people who have struggled to make peace with their bodies and with food and the idea of someone telling them to eliminate something could send them down an unpleasant path. Anxiety, depression, stress, disordered eating, are all things that could arise when on an elimination plan such as the Whole30. So, I understand to an extent why some people shy away from it.
But, I'm here to tell you that the Whole30 isn't like every other diet program. Firstly because it's not a diet.
When I did my first Whole30 back in 2015 I was at the peak of my pain with Candida, although, I didn't know it was Candida back then. All I knew was that anytime I ate something my belly would blow up as if I was a few months pregnant, I'd have extremely sharp pain, so debilitating that it would almost paralyze me and I'd either be completely constipated or have diarrhea. At this time, there was no rhyme or reason (from what I could see) as to why my body would flare up. I needed some answers. My sisters had mentioned wanting to do a Whole30 in January but I was completely clueless as to what this was.
So I began my extensive research. I scoured their entire FAQ database, got the book It Starts With Food and read it from front to back, looked at all of their Instagram accounts and started finding bloggers and recipes around Whole30. After all of this (which took a few weeks) I knew that this could be the beginning of finding some answers about my gut.
So December 31st came, I stayed in with my sisters and we had some appetizers, champagne, etc. And at 12:02, I took my last sip of alcohol for the next 30 days.
Now, let's stop here. If you're not familiar with the Whole30 let me break it down for you.
For 30 days you remove:
- sugar & all sugar substitutes
- carrageenan, MSG, sulfites
- and any baked goods, or junk foods even if they have Whole30 compliant ingredients in them ( such as "nice" cream or paleo pancakes)
Once the 30 days are up you go through a specific reintroduction process completely documented online & in the books and recognize how each food item affects your body.
That's why the Whole30 is so different from anything else. The focus is NOT ON WEIGHT LOSS at all and is focused on how food makes you feel. Isn't that the foundation for intuitive eating anyways? To choose the types of foods that your body wants and needs without stressing, bingeing or restricting?
Sure, I understand that there is a restrictive part in the 30 days but let's be clear. How will you know how corn affects you if you don't take it out completely, assess how you feel without it, reintroduce and reassess afterward? There is no way I would've known that sugar makes me feel very foggy brained and that once I start I have a really hard time not overeating sugary foods without going through the Whole30. There is no way I would've known that I can not tolerate dairy very well. I learned that I can have dairy in small doses but a big plate of chicken alfredo (literally my 1st love) is taking a gut-wrenching risk, pun intended.
And also, in addition to figuring out that my gut issues were food-related, I also had glowing skin, crazy high energy without any help from caffeine, I learned other coping mechanisms outside of food & so much more. While some may speak just about their weight loss with the Whole30, I can promise that there are many other benefits far more important than weight loss.
So, in conclusion, if January is a tough time for you to hear a lot of diet & weight loss talk, know that I understand you and am with you. There are some accounts I've recently unfollowed myself as it created a negative feeling around health & wellness for me. So please understand that I get it. But in that same breath, I hope you can keep an open mind and a little extra grace and understand that all programs aren't created equally. And, just because someone is doing a program doesn't mean their focus is weight loss. For instance, me.
Whether you ever decide to do a Whole30 or not is completely up to you and is a personal choice. But I will continue to stand by the Whole30 & the message it was originally intended to give. I can not speak for bloggers or recipe creators who mix their messaging with diet-culture. But for the Whole30, on whole30.com, from Melissa Hartwig's mouth, I believe in the program. Mainly and most importantly because of the wonders it has done for me, my family & friends.
And should you have any questions about the Whole30 program, recipes or just want a little support, shoot me an email here. I'd love to hear from you.