Whole30: What is it, and what’s all the hype?
Hello again! As I briefly mentioned in my first post, [read here] the Whole30, and the book that it comes from, called It Starts With Food, have been two of the most impactful tools that I have used on my own road to health. Two and a half years ago, coming off of my Titans Cheerleaders audition, it had been drilled into my subconscious that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Basically, the fewer calories the better, and egg whites and oatmeal (a ¼ cup) were staples. Between being fed that kind of information and my other issues with food, I had been conditioned to believe that food was not something to be enjoyed, rather, that it was the enemy. I was constantly tired, irritable, angry, and still didn’t have the body I desired.
Now, the Whole30 does come with a set of very strict rules, and can understandably seem intimidating, and maybe even impossible, when compared against our typical American diet and overall attitude towards food. The premise is, that for 30 days, you remove all grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar and sweeteners, and alcohol from your diet. What does that leave you with? Your meals become comprised of all types of vegetables, quality meats and seafood, fruit, and very importantly, healthy fats, such as olives/olive oil, avocado/avocado oil, coconut/coconut oil, clarified butter (ghee) and nuts. You may be asking yourself, “Why would anyone willingly consent to this insane form of torture?” The answer in my opinion is two-fold.
When it comes to dietary theory, there are so many conflicting views on what is good and bad for you that it can all get very confusing and overwhelming. A quick Google search will give you opposing arguments for everything: “Milk is necessary for strong bones!” vs. “No other species consumes milk past infancy!,” “Red wine is heart healthy!” vs. “Alcohol damages your brain and liver!,” “Honey and maple syrup, hell, even my Stevia comes from nature, it’s good for you!” vs. “Sugar is more addictive than cocaine!” And we all know how trendy it is to hate on gluten. The Whole30 cuts through all of this confusion by providing the framework to do a scientific experiment on yourself. After 30 days, once you’ve detoxed your body, re-regulated your hormones, begun to heal your digestive tract, started getting better sleep, cleared up your skin or medical condition, and yes, probably lost some weight as well, you begin the reintroduction phase. One at a time, you test each of the “off-limits” groups to see how your individual body reacts to each one. That way, going forward, you will be able to make an informed decision about your food choices, knowing what the consequences will be, and if they’re worth it. You may even discover that you’ve finally kicked your 20-year sugar addiction, and not even bother reintroducing it again.
The second reason to do the Whole30 is that unlike common “diets,” (which this is not) the Whole30 is really about changing your relationship with food, and changing your mentality around what is possible for your body and your health. You don’t have to live with chronic pain. You don’t have to carry around that extra 15 lbs. for the rest of your life. You don’t have to be a slave to your cravings. You don’t have to always have low energy, no matter how much caffeine you take. What you get to do is become conscious of what you put in your body. You get to stop reading the nutrition facts and just focus on reading ingredient labels. You get to eat more whole, natural foods than packaged, processed ones, and actually re-train your palate to like them! You get to stop fixating on the number on the scale that society has lead you to believe is what measures your worth.
So yes, the Whole30 rules can seem intense, even impossible, but as the founder of my school, Joshua Rosenthal said, “Given half a chance, the body will heal itself, by itself.” You just need to give it that chance. Doing so forever changed my life, and that was worth it to me.