This is a “vintage” post that’s been updated to support all the people starting a Whole30® on January 1 — be sure to read through to the resources at the end! If you have no idea what I mean when I say “Whole30,” head on over here for all the details.
Over the last four years or so, I’ve done a handful of Whole30 re-sets, and everyone of them has (a) been different from the others and (b) incredibly eye-opening and helpful in some way. Sometimes I take on the Whole30 because I desperately need to clean up my act (after a European vacation fueled by schnitzel and beer, for example). Sometimes, like now, I go after it because I want to make progress. There are all kinds of good reasons to embark on a Whole30; feel free to share your motivation in the comments below!
If you’ve never tried giving up your evening glass of wine or your Saturday morning pancakes — or you live in a household where other people don’t eat paleo or aren’t taking on the Whole30 — I know it probably seems very daunting. And I’m not going to lie: it can be very uncomfortable at first. But change is always uncomfortable — and we can’t evolve if we don’t ride out the discomfort.
Giving up some of your favorite foods — and having to explain to others over and over again why you’re doing it — might very well be uncomfortable. But I encourage you to do it because you will heal your body; you will learn new things about how and why and what you eat; and you will ultimately, feel so much better than you do right now.
30 Reasons To Do a Whole30
These are the things that I’ve experienced myself and loved about the Whole30. Not everyone’s experiences are the same, and you might not enjoy all of these things during your month (and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t experience them every day of the month… some days are just hard). But I can pretty much promise you, if you tackle a Whole30 and really commit to the spirit of the whole endeavor, it will change you and your perceptions of yourself and the world for the better. That’s a tall order, I know! But it’s also drenched in truthiness.
In no particular order…
1. You’ll sleep longer & more soundly.
When sugar is out and protein/fat is in, you sleep the sleep of the righteous.
2. You’ll enjoy consistent energy.
Forget energy that peaks and drops like a roller coaster, you’ll become a bullet train.
3. You’ll wake up feeling optimistic and alert.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than waking up with a smile and open heart.
4. You’ll say goodbye to digestive distress.
Forget about farts and tummy rumbling and… let’s call them “uncomfortable bathroom experiences.” You might have a little discomfort at first if you’re not used to eating lots of veggies, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.
5. You’ll be happier.
No joke. When blood sugar is stable, life is happier. Period.
6. You’ll be more peaceful.
The swirly thoughts and anxiety that can be brought on by the sugar joyride vaporize and leave calm in their wake.
7. You’ll be more clear-headed.
Goodbye, brain fog and tip-of-the-tongue syndrome! Hello, Mensa!
In no particular order
8. You’ll drink more water.
Sugary drinks are out, so you’ll naturally find yourself drinking more water – which is a brilliant thing for making your body function at optimal capacity.
9. You’ll eat more vegetables.
Get ready to eat like a bunny! You’ll be eating about two to three cups of veggies per meal. Per. Meal. Think of all the nutrients!
10. You’ll savor your food more.
For me, shining the spotlight on quality food makes me appreciate its nutritive power and flavor more than usual. I slow down, enjoy every bite, and think about how it’s making me strong while it tastes so damn good.
11. You’ll feel the difference between emotional appetite and real hunger.
You know that mindless eating that happens when you’re stressed or distracted? That’s emotional appetite, and it’s junky. During the Whole30, as your body gets off the sugar high and settles into better insulin management, your appetite starts to diminish, but real hunger – the need for quality food that signals when it’s time to eat – kicks in. It feels so good.
12. You’ll find new favorite foods.
Who knows which vegetables, spices, and meat preparations will become your favorites?! It’s exciting to think about, no? There’s so much room in your kitchen and on your plate for new taste sensations when you banish the grains, beans, and dairy.
13. You’ll have fun experimenting in the kitchen.
The Whole30 is essentially what got me into the kitchen and playing with recipes. I was inspired to see what I could do with veg+meat+fat, and I encourage you to do the same. Let the Whole30 and Well Fed 2 help you play with your food!
14. You’ll become more organized.
To some degree, the Whole30 requires you to embrace planning to ensure your success, and that level of organization can trickle into other areas of your life, too.
15. You’ll Know True “willpower.”
Most of us tend to blame ourselves for “lack of willpower,” but the truth is that much of our mindless eating is driven by our hormones. When we manage our hormonal response by eating the right foods, the correct messages about hunger are delivered through our bodies. No superhuman, self-control required!
16. You’ll learn about yourself.
By focusing on your habits for 30 days, you’ll learn all kinds of things, including what triggers your appetite, who’s part of your support system, what you need for self care, what time of day you go to the bathroom, and more!
17. You’ll slay the Sugar Demon.
Vanquish that bad guy! And then, later, if you tangle with the Sugar Demon again, you’ll know that it’s within your power to take a sword to his carotid when the time comes.
18. You’ll make new friends.
There’s a huge community of Whole30 participants online and offline, and during your Whole30, you can tap into their support, knowledge, sense of humor, successes, and challenges.
19. You’ll positively influence others.
Yes, you’ll inevitably get the “You need to eat whole grains.” argument from some well-meaning acquaintances, and that will be annoying. But if you quietly stick to your program, you’ll also have a positive impact on the people around you when they see your results. I can’t tell you how many people were envious of my Whole30 packed lunches in my office, and that’s a non-combative way to open the door to a great conversation.
20. You’ll learn more about how your body works.
This is a two-fold win. First, by understanding the principles of the science behind the Whole30, you’ll learn a bit about how human bodies function, and second, you’ll learn how you – a special, special snowflake – work in particular.
21. Your skin will be brighter.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + protein + no sugar = clear, younger-looking skin.
22. Your hair will be shinier.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + protein + no sugar = glossy hair. (And stronger nails, too.)
23. Your tummy will be flatter.
The end-of-day bloat from dairy and legumes is gone, baby, gone!
24. Your workouts will feel invigorating.
Workouts fueled by real food are the best.
25. You might get a PR.
PR stands for “Personal Record,” and it’s cause for celebration. Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + protein + no sugar =
a physically stronger, faster you.
26. You’ll feel accomplished (Or maybe even smug).
I’ve stopped pursuing discipline for discipline’s sake, but
I wholeheartedly believe that committing to a short-term program like the Whole30 helps develop mental toughness that is valuable in all aspects of our lives. And yes, I do enjoy feeling smug about that once in a while.
27. You might lose weight. or gain muscle. Or both.
If losing body fat is your goal, a Whole30 can be a great way to start that process. Just don’t cheat yourself out of a lot of joy by making that your only focus. Look for the fresh glow on your skin, the smile on your face in the morning, the disappearance of afternoon headaches – as well as looser jeans and the return of cheekbones.
28. Your body image will improve.
There is an undeniable connection between treating ourselves well and how we feel about our bodies. If you look at the Whole30 as an act of self care, then affection, love, acceptance, and celebration of your body – how it feels, what it can do, the amazing things it carries you through every day – will surely follow.
29. Food will become both more important and less important.
I used to be very attached to food. I was sad at the end of the
day when eating was over until tomorrow, and when faced with my favorite foods, I wanted to eat them until I was stuffed, just
in case I never saw them again. But when I got my blood sugar under control with the Whole30, that changed. Food is both more sacred: It nourishes and sustains us. And less sacred: We get to eat again in a few hours! The emotional triggers attached to the food on my plate are gone. Don’t get me wrong: I still feel deep affection for favorite foods, and I love to eat, but now I feel that there’s a world of abundance out there. Fear of food – and fear of not having favorite foods – is gone.
30. You’ll stop dieting and just eat.
This might be the best reason of all. When you take out the non-food food and replace it with real food, you can stop over- analyzing how much you eat, when you eat, and where you eat. Yes, quantities still matter to some degree, but you can throw off the shackles of calorie counting and denial, and just eat. Peacefully. Healthfully. Robustly. With joy and pleasure and laughter. And cumin.
More Ideas & Support: Free
My Whole30 Experiences
If you want to travel back in time, you can browse through all of my Whole30 experiences (in reverse order) by hitting this link. If you’re more interested in specifics, here are direct links to previous Whole30 daily updates and recaps.
- October 2012: Whole30 + Autoimmune Wrap-Up: Links to my daily recaps of my Whole30 Self-Care Edition
- My Autoimmune Protocol Experiment: The recap of what I learned doing a strict Whole30 + autoimmune protocol in October 2012
- August Whole30: This post explains my motivations for tackling the Whole30 over the summer while I was experimenting with my thyroid hormone medication.
Stupid Easy Paleo Whole30 & Guide To Clean-Eating Challenges
Steph of Stupid Easy Paleo is supporting the Whole30 on January 1. You can read her rationale here, get answers to FAQs here, and download her 14-page guide to make the Whole30 a little easier.
Holly Would If She Could: 10 Tips To Make Your Whole30 a Success
Holly is a Whole30 veteran and this list of advice is enormously helpful.
Nom Nom Paleo: Whole30 Rundown
Recipes and support from Nom Nom Paleo, another kickass Whole30 vet.
More Ideas & Support: Whole30 Daily
Once you’re committed in your heart, you might want to load up on some additional resources to help make your Whole30 an even better, more rewarding, more fun experience. Here are some not-too-pricy investments that can make the whole month feel a little bit easier. (But not easy, am I right?!)
Have you ever wished that someone would check in on you every day to see how you’re doing with your goals? Someone to ask… What’s your motivation like today? Did you sleep OK? Are you having trouble with cravings, or are you kicking ass? Someone to offer just the right piece of advice — or a kick in the keister — when you need it?
That’s just what the Whole30 Daily is designed to do. If we want to get all official about it, it’s like this:
The Whole30® Daily is a newsletter and daily check-in system to prepare you, motivate you, and ensure your success, every single day of your Whole30 adventure.
The content in the daily emails goes beyond the rich information already found on the Whole9 website (for free), the Whole30 Success Guide, and the brilliant new book It Starts With Food, although — who are we kidding?! — you should really get yourself all of those resources, too. With Whole30 Daily, you get 32 robust emails — one every day of the 30 days, plus a kick off and close out message — and it costs less than 50-cents a day.
More Ideas & Support: Well Fed Cookbooks
Both of my cookbooks are Whole30 approved. Between the two of them, there are more than 250 recipes that are compliant with the guidelines of the Whole30. (The books include just three recipes that are not Whole30 approved, and those are clearly marked so you won’t accidentally eat something that’s off-program.)
|My cookbook Well Fed is packed with recipes to make you want to smash in your face with joy and all but one of the recipes are Whole30 approved for use during your Whole30. In addition to recipes for dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, Scotch Eggs, Chocolate Chili, and Bora Bora Fireballs, Well Fed also includes lots of information for how to cook without a recipe — lots of ideas for ways to combine basic protein, veggies, and fats into something special that ensures you won’t get bored and you won’t spend all of your free time in the kitchen. (If you’re curious, the “offender” recipe is a fruit crisp that uses Whole30-friendly ingredients, but is too dessert-y to comply with the spirit of the Whole30. That recipe, however, is just fine for when your Whole30 is complete, and you want a sweet treat.) Help yourself to a free 30-page preview of Well Fed — or just go ahead and but it now!|
|Well Fed 2 is packed with even more recipes and ideas to keep your taste buds happy and all but two of the recipes are Whole30 approved for use during your Whole30. In addition to recipes for dishes like Deconstructed Gyro, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Old School Italian Meat Sauce, and West African Chicken Stew, Well Fed 2 also includes tons more “no recipe required” meal ideas, 15 meatball recipes, 8 dressings and dips based on my homemade mayo recipe (the most popular recipe on my site!), and adaptations to make more than 100 of the recipes compliant with the autoimmune protocol (AIP) of paleo. Help yourself to a free 35-page preview of Well Fed 2 — or just go ahead and buy it now!
As Melissa and Dallas of Whole9Life are good at reminding us, context matters, so if you’re not familiar with my checkered past, you might want to read these previous posts about my hormone situation and how the Whole30 helps me manage it all:
- Here I Go Again: My latest adventures in functional medicine and a Report From The Midst
- The Thyroid Experiment and Update on the Experiment
- Weight & Body Image Stuff: I Love My Body and Why is Thinner Better?
- N=1: or why self-experimentation is a pain in the butt but the only option
- My Autoimmune Protocol Experiment: recap of what I learned doing a strict Whole30 + autoimmune protocol in October 2012
Are you tackling a Whole30? What’s your motivation?
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