I’m officially 4 days post-whole 30 and am in the reintroduction phase of the program. The idea of the reintroduction phase is to slowly introduce foods back into your diet and see how you feel… It’s actually REALLY hard to reintroduce slowly when so many good foods contain a combo of grains and dairy… haha.
I really liked whole30, despite the fact that many people label it as a “fad diet.” Do I think it’s something that I could do forever? No. But, I definitely felt good during the 30 days. Here are some of my thoughts:
- I didn’t have any digestive/IBS symptoms for the entire 30 days.
- I tried lots of new recipes and really enjoyed cooking colorful, wholesome meals.
- I didn’t lose any weight (which was actually surprising!), but my clothes fit a lot better and I lost 2 inches in my upper waist and 2 inches around my belly button (which is the area where I really need to lose the most fat!)
- My skin cleared up a lot and several people told me that my skin was glowing!
- I didn’t have the urge to binge eat the entire time.
- It helped me identify what foods are not making me feel good (You just get so used to feeling icky that you don’t even realize you’re bloated and sick until you’re not anymore).
- I had way more energy!
- I didn’t really miss sugar at all! All of my cravings were more salty/savoury cravings, but never once did I want candy or a cookie or anything like that. It also just made me aware of just how much sugar is in everything and I plan to take that sugar awareness forward after whole30.
- I LOVE whole30 mayo. I never realized how easy it is to make your own mayo and honestly it’s so good! It tastes much fresher and has a way better texture than regular mayo. This is one of the things I will probably continue to make myself instead of buying.
- It is very restrictive!! I definitely was not on board with the “you make one mistake and you start over” philosophy. Early on, I realized that the coconut I was eating likely had sulphites in it… I just stopped eating it and didn’t feel like I needed to start over. On day 28, I had a very unsatisfying pulled pork sandwich on a bun… but I wasn’t about to start over.
- Eliminating ALL food additives/preservatives is super challenging! I stayed away from the big three listed in the whole30 book, but I didn’t worry about other additives. Especially considering a lot of them aren’t even harmful.
- It’s really hard to eat out on this plan – I felt like I had to say no to events/plans involving a lot of food just because I didn’t want to be “that person” who couldn’t eat anything without a bunch of substitutions and restrictions. I hate doing that at restaurants.
- It’s pretty expensive. In the 30 days, we spent about an extra $150 on groceries.
- I got REALLY sick of eggs… and side note… many people have a sensitivity to eggs, which this plan obviously doesn’t address.
- It’s hard to get enough carbs to maintain an active lifestyle. Throughout whole30, I was still working out 5-6 days per week at a moderately high to high intensity. Even adding in dates, extra fruit (I honestly didn’t eat that much fruit before!), bananas, and (which I didn’t even eat prior to whole30), potatoes (which I also didn’t eat prior to whole30), it was hard to get in a lot of carbs to support my workouts. I feel like it definitely is kind of a low-carb plan and if I hadn’t been actively trying to increase my carb intake it would have been much lower.
- It was super high in fat for me. There’s nothing wrong with this, and a lot of people benefit from a ketogenic diet, but according to my food diary, I was eating up to 50% of my calories from fat. If I had been more strict about following the plan and limiting my fats to a couple TBSP or a thumb-sized amount, I feel like I might have lost more weight… but that wasn’t the ultimate goal for me here AND I didn’t want to stress about exact portion size on top of stressing about what I could and couldn’t eat.
- The plan made me realize that I might have a sensitivity to nightshade vegetables/fruits, but I don’t really want to cut them out because they are my favourite!😦
Overall, I had a good whole30 experience, despite the fact that I recognize there are some concerns/underlying issues with this program that many people have addressed. In fact, my friend Jen, who is a dietician, wrote a very timely article on whole30 last week and she has a lot of valid points! I definitely recommend you read her review as well as other positive and negative reviews of whole30 before you decide to try it!
Post whole30, I am really working on a balance of carbs, protein and fat in my diet instead of a diet heavy on one of those macronutrients because I feel that a balance is a) most sustainable and intuitive for me b) supports my training while still allowing me to lose weight. Now that I’m in the reintroduction phase, here are some things I have tried to reintroduce and my body’s response to them:
Legumes: So far, I’ve only had peanut butter (I’m not a big legume eater) and I felt totally fine afterwards.
Non-gluten grains: I’ve had gluten-free steel cut oats, popcorn and basmati rice and felt fine on all of them! (I seriously missed popcorn!)
Gluten/wheat: I’ve had a 100 calorie sandwich thin and a couple whole-wheat tortillas so far and I noticed bloating and discomfort within an hour of eating them. Not enough that I feel that I should *never* eat grains, but I think they are going to have to be an occasional thing and I plan to mostly cut them out from my everyday meals.
Sugar: I haven’t had a lot of sugar but have started cooking with spice blends that contain some sugar in their ingredients again. Sometimes flavouring food just requires a little sweetness, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! I also went back to having sugar-free syrup in my iced coffee with no ill-effects. The little sugar I have had included a white peach bellini… mostly what I’ve noticed after having anything really sugary is that I immediately want to sleep.
Pre-workout and Whey Powder: I feel totally fine after taking my beloved pre-workout, and whey powder in my post-workout shakes hasn’t given me any problems. The one thing I’ve noticed though is that both taste WAY too sweet and “artificial.” I still like the benefits preworkout gives me, but I’ve had to really dilute it with water to even get it down and I’ve only been using half a scoop of whey powder instead of a full scoop.
Alcohol: Other than the bellini mentioned above, I haven’t had any alcohol… even my beloved wine. I just haven’t really craved/ wanted it and am perfectly happy to have a calorie-free sparkling water instead.
Dairy: I knew this one was going to suck and it does! Dairy (I tried yogurt, sour cream and cheese at different times) immediately caused an IBS flare up, bloating, discomfort and gas…. so as much as I hate to give up my beloved yogurt and cheese, I think it’s important that I cut it out. I typically ignored these symptoms prior to whole30, but now I can’t stand feeling so gross after. I could eat like seven lactaid pills before every meal…. but it’s not really worth it on a regular basis. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m totally lactose intolerant, but there’s definitely a sensitivity there!
So yes! That’s where I am as post-whole30. Trying to find a balance of macronutrients in my diet, eat whole foods, allow myself small treats occasionally and mostly just be intuitive and listen to my body. I definitely realized how GOOD it feels to eat like I did on whole30, but I think there needs to be wiggle room in everyday life too and I’m trying hard to find that balance and allow myself a treat meal if I hit my workouts and nutrition goals for the week.
Would I recommend whole30 to others? Yes, I do think it really helped me get back on track with eating a more wholesome diet, BUT do your own research. If you are struggling with food sensitivities and a cycle of eating junk, it might be worth a try for you (just be informed and weigh the pros/cons)…after all, you get to eat really good food on this plan, it’s worked for a lot of people AND it’s only 30 days!🙂