If you haven’t tried the Whole30 diet or haven’t been a victim of aggressive Instagrams about it from people who have, it’s essentially a plan where you are resetting your system. You cut out everything deemed “negative” by researchers that you put into your body (things like wheat, dairy, and of course alcohol) for 30 days. After that, you start reintroducing those foods back into your diet again and witness how you feel. If you slip up, you have to start the Whole30 days over (aka no cheat days).
I was writing about the diet for an article for People and thought, ‘Why not? I’ll give it a shot.’ I’m allergic to a lot of things — bees, shellfish, like three different antibiotics — so it might be interesting to see how I feel when I get rid of all the “bad stuff” in my system. I mentally prepared for about two weeks (I was on vacation and there was no way I was starting then) and I made a special trip to the nice Trader Joe’s so I could stock up on healthy food.
Day one I was feeling good. I had planned what I was going to eat for the day and didn’t feel very hungry by the end of it. The hardest part was remembering that I was not only on a diet, but a very strict one — so I had to slap my hand when I went to “try a bite” of something that wasn’t allowed on the plan (even if it seemed healthy… think quinoa), or when I would casually pop a sour gummy worm from the stash I have in my desk drawer.
Everything went great for the next couple days — I started to not have my after lunch chocolate craving and I actually liked having fewer options when it came to what to eat for meals. I weighed myself after work on the fourth day and had already dropped three pounds — I was thrilled, then realized it was probably from all of the bad stuff “exiting” my body if you know what I mean.
But I was feeling SO tired. I started drinking coffee with almond milk not only in the morning but also in the afternoon. I was eating very little carbs outside of the fruit I was having and had to nap every night I got home from work. Not only that, I was incredibly irritable.
I called my boyfriend who was at work on day three, crying about a four-year-old Golden Retriever/Corgi mix that I had found at a shelter online who was suffering from cancer, “but was living life to the fullest.” It was one of the cries you have after watching Marley & Me and you feel like you can’t breathe. Evan was just as confused as I was.
Suddenly I started crying whenever I saw a dog — do you know how many dogs are walking the streets of New York City? A lot.
Sure, that time of the month was only a week away and I had a lot of other pressures I was putting on myself at the time, but it was knowing that I couldn’t eat something as simple as a whole wheat cracker without feeling like I failed and it was starting to emotionally take a toll on me. Since the diet is so restrictive, you really have to be careful about what you pick up and put in your mouth, and it just became more stressful for me than helpful.
It all went to complete hell when I was making breakfast on the fifth day and microwaved a hardboiled egg (who am I?!) without slicing into it first. I pulled it out of the microwave and pressed my fork on it — BOOM! — it sounded like a bomb went off and the egg exploded all over me and the kitchen. Evan looked at me like WTF is happening and I just broke down crying and ran to the bathroom (this is now hilarious for us to think about). The real Jessica would not be eating mashed up egg, avocado and turkey for breakfast, but would rather have all of that on a bagel with cheese.
It was the final straw. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect when it came to how I ate and the truth is, life will never be perfect — not even for 30 days.
We immediately went to a pub and had cheeseburgers, fries and beers for lunch.
Although I drove myself emotionally insane on this diet (you might too if you can’t have carbs or alcohol for a month), I did learn a lot in only the couple days I was doing it and I might try it again in the future, but cut the time down to 15 days. For the little time that I was on it, I have already changed the way I eat and look at food. Obviously this diet is for the strong-willed and people who are willing to take it very seriously. If I continued on a serious path, I think I definitely would have lost a lot of weight (and adopted like ten dogs with cancer).
Here’s what else I learned:
Must. Love. Veggies. At the beginning I was eating a lot of fruit and we all know that fruit contains a lot of sugar. I think to benefit the most from this diet, you have to have a big heart for the green stuff.
I now take more time to look at the ingredients in everything I eat — it’s amazing how many things contain soy, which I already know upsets my stomach.
It’s easy to give up bread, but not so easy to give up EVERYTHING that is whole grain aka crackers, brown rice, quinoa, etc. I also found it hard to give up dairy because I love Greek yogurt in my smoothies.
There is so much meal prep at home that it can really drive you crazy. You have to make sure to pack everything you need for work, especially some snacks in case hunger strikes.
There’s a whole support group on social media that really helps. I announced on Instagram I was trying it out and several people shared their thoughts and stories, which were really encouraging.
It’s a good base for a diet, but I think adding some things here and there (a yogurt or brown rice) will help you to not go crazy and feel like a failure when you do “eat something bad.” At the end of the day, you know when you’re eating a healthy diet and you know when you’ve been bad — it’s all about balance. And if you already know something upsets your stomach, don’t eat it!
Have you tried it out? What did you think?