I recently wrapped up my second Whole30. It was kind of a disaster. Well, maybe not a disaster, but it was definitely a very different experience from my first.
I loved my first Whole30. I immediately felt better once I committed to eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and processed foods. So many of the great things they tell you will happen? They did! I struggled here and there, but I felt like I was progressing, improving, and learning about myself the entire time. And when I finished, I had figured out a lot of things about my body and my food habits.
I wanted to do another Whole30 as a reset and reminder. My biggest takeaway from my first Whole30 was that, when I focused on eating complete meals (instead of just my routine salads) that featured more vegetables and more protein sources than I was used to, I felt better. But life got in the way of my always eating in the way that I knew made me feel good, because you know what’s easy? A big bowl of pasta that I boiled for 11 minutes and topped with store-bought sauce. And you know what food satisfies me emotionally? Cheese. So I wanted to do it again to remember, to feel great, and to be re-inspired.
So my sister and I dove right in. She was killin’ it the entire time — I wish you could have seen all of the gorgeous Whole30 meals she created. But, for me, this time was pretty sucky. I didn’t feel better, I didn’t notice impactful differences, I didn’t stop craving things. Being told I couldn’t have things made me feel crazy; I just wanted the option. It messed with my cycle (which did happen last time but with less impact), which left me feeling totally drained. I whined right up until, after a thoughtful chat with my mom, I began to tweak.
It’s worth noting that I was feeling bad before my first Whole30. I had some serious room for improvement mentally and physically, and doing a Whole30 involved making a lot of changes to my habits, food and otherwise. Those changes had an immediate impact. But I’ve felt better since then. Going into this Whole30, I wasn’t sleeping poorly, having terrible energy lulls, etc. So I guess it makes sense that I didn’t have another immediate “YES! THIS IS THE BEST! I COULD EAT LIKE THIS FOREVER IF IT KEEPS ME FEELING THIS WAY!” moment, but that made it really difficult.
When my mom nudged me to just listen to my body (that’s what Whole30 is all about in the end, isn’t it?) and end my by-the-book Whole30, things got better. Here’s what I changed:
- I stuck to mostly Whole30 meals until the end of my 30 days. But I let myself go out to dinner for a bowl of handmade pasta and a glass of wine once, and I did have a snack of bread one weekend. Here and there I screwed up, but letting go of the guilt associated with breaking the rules was a game changer.
- I did not immediately go out and restock my kitchen with non-Whole30 items. In fact, for the most part, I still haven’t. Though, as I’ve said, I don’t like not having the option to eat crappy food if I want it, it was important to be smart about my shopping. When the most convenient “pasta” I have on hand is cauliflower rice (which I actually really like), I will choose it.
- Meal prep became even more important. Practicing “food freedom” meant that I could pick whatever, but taking some time to plan out my menus and prep the ingredients ensured that my hanger didn’t end up sending me flying toward potato chips every night.
- Did I mention that I had to let go of the guilt I was feeling about breaking the Whole30 rules? You shouldn’t feel bad about your food all the time — that’s just no good!
Whole30, as defined by the rules, didn’t work for me this time, but I stand by it as a great tool. I also stand by tweaking so that you don’t lose your mind. You do you!