Back in October 2022, I committed to trying different diets/eating programs/lifestyles each month for 2023. I got a little bit of a head start with Revolution 22, then Wheat Belly Detox, and the Fast Diet. But this month, I officially kicked things off with another stab at Whole30.
I have been down this route before. I have tried Whole30 quite a few times, honing my eating practices each time. So why do it again? Well, two reasons, actually. My health practitioner wanted me to try eliminating wheat and gluten as well as nightshades for a month to see if it might help with my inflammation and back pain (we’ll get to my results in a moment). I figured if I was going to do an elimination diet, why not pair it with the one I know very well?
The second reason is I was reading the creators’ of Whole30, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, book called It Starts with Food for Zoo-notable. Why not pair my Eating for Change Challenge with Zoo-notable as well?
If you aren’t familiar with Whole30, it is a unique approach to finding out what foods work and what foods don’t serve you. I’ve sometimes referred to it as Paleo+ because it follows most of what the Paleo diet promotes— protein from meat, seafood, and eggs, fruits and vegetables, whole nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. But what makes it plus is it also cuts out the products that keep us hooked on bad eating habits— alcohol, Paleo-friendly flours, Paleo-friendly sweeteners, and recreating our sweet and addicting treats using approved ingredients.
Side note: As you’re about to see, my challenge didn’t go very well for me. The biggest reason is I forgot that last part. I totally ate foods that, while approved ingredients, were not psychologically healthy for me.
See, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig believe good food does 4 things for us:
- Promote a healthy psychological response.
- Promote a healthy hormonal response
- Support a healthy gut
- Support immune function and minimize inflammation
In order to ensure the food we eat is doing what is healthy for us, Whole30 encourages us to eliminate the main foods that are known to disrupt one or all of these responses for a whole 30 days (oh, so THAT’S how it got its name!). After the 30 days, systematically reintroduce each food group to see how your body responds. Foods that disrupt our healthy response include sugar, sweeteners (even keto-friendly), legumes, grains, dairy, and seed oils (high in omega-6 fatty acids).
As I mentioned, I messed up this month, but plan on making it up throughout the remainder of the year. I didn’t honor the essence of the program, and I allowed LOTS of “forbidden” foods. I justified my decision to allow sweeteners, almond flour, and some dairy because I was adding the restriction of nightshades, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and all peppers. So no spaghetti, no chili, no fajitas, no baked potatoes, no paprika spice, no curry, no barbeque (not even the sugar free type), or many other foods I rely on for cooking healthy meals.
There’s a reason Whole30 asks you to eliminate all sweeteners, even the Keto-friendly Swerve/monkfruit/Stevia types. While it isn’t having a huge impact on your body, eating these sweeteners has a terrible impact on my brain (and after reading It Starts With Food, I don’t think I am alone in this struggle…). So, from the get-go, I wasn’t off to a good start.
But then, after my 20 days without nightshades, I decided to quit ALL of my Whole30. Because my practitioner recommended only 20 days without nightshades and see if the inflammation got better, which it admittedly did not get better, so once the 20 days was over, I immediately got back to some sneaky habits that have been creeping into my life over the past couple of years.
So, I decided I’m giving my brain a break for February and trying a couple of the delivery programs (Purple Carrot and Hello Fresh), but in March, I am continuing on with my Eating for Change Challenge (with Forks Over Knives program, another plant-based eating lifestyle), but I’m also going to focus on practicing the essence of Whole30– no added sugar (just fruits), no alcohol, no snacking, and no to most grains and legumes. Since this is a plant based challenge, I am allowing three plant proteins that I have tested time and again and not had any issues with– garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tempeh, and tofu.
Not only am I practicing a plant-based modified Whole30 for March, but I’m going to practice the essence of Whole30 throughout the rest of the year. Instead of a 10-day reintroduction period, I’m committed to using the remainder of the year as my reintroduction, evaluation, and development of my own personal eating program.
I have to also admit I’ve fallen off my Fast Diet program as well, which is interesting, because I really do see some results with fasting 2 days a week. So, I will also be revamping my efforts with that this month as well.
Sunday, the day I release my podcast, I will be discussing the book It Starts With Food. There are some aspects I just don’t agree with the authors about the “science” of cutting out ALL the problematic foods all at once, and I’ll discuss it further on Sunday, but I will give this little sneak peak:
The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.
So, let’s make choices that make us more healthy. We can falter along the way. We can stray off the path. But when we notice we’ve strayed, let’s brush ourselves off, and recommit. And go back to rocking our protocols. Taking care of ourselves so we can show up for what’s important in our lives.