It started with a crouton.
I suppose I should say “ended.” It ended with a crouton.
Those of you who have been paying attention lately can probably guess what ended with a delicious morsel of gluten: our Whole30. That’s right; after getting a third of the way there, we called it quits. I can give you all sorts of reasons why I chose to not see it through. The fact that Spencer put croutons on his otherwise Whole30-compliant salad in a moment of weakness, my lack of prioritization with my downtime, the number of times I saw that stupid McPick2 commercial during the college football national championship… Those would all work nicely.
Instead, I’ve decided to channel this negative into a positive and use my experience to help you work through those moments of weakness and survive the Whole30, something I hope to do in the coming months (since finishing one was a big to-do on my New Year’s resolutions).
Without further ado, my tips for how to survive the Whole30:
Read It Starts With Food
Technically, I did this one… six months ago when I first thought, “Hey, that could really work for us!” Unfortunately, when I went to check it out from the library a week before we started, it wasn’t available. Instead of pushing back our Whole30 until I’d had a chance to reread it, I pushed forward, thinking it really wasn’t necessary to read it again.
I was so wrong. Not only does the book provide a ton of motivation and encouragement, it also breaks down why you eliminate the foods that you do, and this was the main problem for me throughout our experience: I couldn’t get behind the program because I didn’t remember the science and the reasons for not eating dairy, gluten, and legumes. You have to be completely committed, and I was not.
Do it with a partner… who has also read the book and believes in the program
I cannot tell you how ecstatic I was when Spencer agreed to do the Whole30 with me. An entire month without pizza, beer, and his favorite B-Dubs hot wings? It was a miracle. I didn’t think it was important for him to read the book (or anything about the program, really) because I had read the book (six months before), so I just kind of summarized it for him (very poorly). See how I might’ve sabotaged us from the beginning?
You need someone who is just as invested and knowledgeable as you are. It’s not his fault that we didn’t follow through to the end because I never gave him the tools to understand how the Whole30 could positively affect our eating habits and overall relationship with food. When he started questioning the things we weren’t eating and debating the benefits of what we were, I started to do the same. Therefore, I really can’t blame him for that one serving of croutons.
Plan your meals in advance, but not so strictly that you can’t mix things up every once in awhile
Meal planning is an absolute must, and for the first week or so, the Type A in me was all about it. I planned our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on Saturday, shopped for most all of the ingredients on Sunday, and did a decent bit of food prep before the week even began. Everything was peachy until that time I got home from work and wasn’t at all interested in the chicken dish that I had planned to make. Or the time I would have rather gone to bed hungry than eat leftovers again.
Sometimes your current food mood means changing plans, and you have to be okay with it. There’s nothing worse than eating something you don’t want to, and on the Whole30, you really should never have to do that. Whether you give yourself the freedom to switch up your meals throughout the week, freeze up a bunch of meatballs to cook up in an emergency, or have a go-to restaurant nearby where you can talk your way through ordering a compliant meal, don’t eat food that doesn’t appeal to you!
Be honest about potential scheduling conflicts
I had planned it perfectly. Post-holidays, yet pre-business travel season. In conjunction with “get back to the gym” season. We didn’t have anything on the calendar that could possibly interfere with the success of our Whole30. Or so I thought. About a day before we began, I realized that my grandfather’s 80th birthday (and therefore his big birthday bash) fell smack dab in the middle of the program. I immediately began scrambling to find a “better time,” but Spencer suggested we just do it as planned. How difficult could it be to refuse a slice of cake?
Turns out it wasn’t the sights, smells, or even peer pressure that made me give it up; it was the thought of having to stand up to the sights, smells, and peer pressure. We said goodbye to the Whole30 two full days before we spent the weekend in Georgia. Just thinking about how terrible the dietary restrictions would make our weekend was enough to end it only ten days after we began it. (Not surprisingly, Days 10 and 11 are when most people give up on their Whole30, according to the timeline.) There is a mentality to “start now!” with this elimination diet, but starting without thinking about what’s already on your calendar will more than likely have you finishing way ahead of your goal.
Even just making it to a Whole10, I recognized some benefits that are encouraging: no bloated feel/look at my waist, clearer skin, more regular digestion without all the embarrassing symptoms of irregularity, that “I’m awesome” feeling that comes with making good choices all day. I’m also really interested to see how the reintroduction period works. I think I would’ve pulled through for the entire thing if I’d been more conscious of the pitfalls above. I hope they help you on your way to a better, healthier you!
I’ll be trying it again later in the year… once I take all of these lessons to heart. Did you survive the Whole30 yourself, or did you have a similar rough patch like us?