Have you heard of the Whole30 craze yet? It has gained a lot of popularity since I first discovered it a few years ago. I discovered Whole30 about 4 years after ‘recovering’ from an eating disorder. I had finished my therapy and was now trying to figure out how to live a balanced life. Even though I was finally eating three meals a day, my relationship with food was still so damaged. I found that if I tried to focus on getting in shape again and being healthy, it would trigger old habits too quickly and I would start to obsess and quickly become miserable again. If I went the other way and didn’t try at all, then I felt sluggish and heavy and guilty. I was using an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to dull the guilt and anxiety surrounding food, but I knew I couldn’t do that forever. I hated my postpartum body but was too scared to try and fix it. I feared becoming ‘sick’ again, and I had sworn to myself I would never do that to my husband and daughter.
About a year and a half after my daughter was born, a friend of mine posted a food photo on Instagram with the hashtag #whole30. I asked her what it was, and got the run down: No grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or alcohol for 30 days. This intrigued me! I jumped in without doing much research and not fully understanding the concept. I admit that I desperately wanted to lose a bit of weight and this seemed like a great way to do it. (Now, years later, I understand that the program is NOT meant for losing weight, although most people do lose weight on it).
Seven days into the program, I couldn’t believe how different I felt. My body was settling into a natural and comfortable weight. Energy was coursing through me for the first time since before puberty. I was able to eat and not feel guilty after. I was having fun experimenting with new foods and new ways to cook. My clothes were fitting differently and I had an overall feeling of lightness. I often joke that I even became more fertile than usual as I discovered that I had become pregnant with our son during the thirty days, completely by surprise.
By the end of the thirty days I felt fantastic. I was so happy with the results. I was convinced that everyone I knew needed to try the program! Unfortunately a few weeks later I became extremely ill while pregnant and could not stand the sight or smell of any protein and very few vegetables. For the rest of my pregnancy I survived on toast, apple juice, goldfish crackers and the occasional carrot. I undid all the good things accomplished during my first Whole30 challenge, but this time I knew how to fix it. I knew that as soon as my pregnancy was finished, I could do another round of Whole30 and get back on track.
Six weeks after my son was born, I did my second round. This time I researched a lot and read It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the creators of Whole30. I learned the reasons behind it, how to properly reintroduce food after the thirty days, and how to live a balanced life after. I incorporated all kinds of exercise. Again the results were so fantastic and came quicker during the second round.
The best thing of all: I learned to stop seeing food as the enemy. I learned that the number on the scale is meaningless. I learned that I don’t have to waste my time counting calories. I learned that strength is beautiful. I learned that it’s important for my children to see me eat and enjoy food and use food to give me energy. I learned to see food as fuel for my body.
I can’t even begin to explain the freedom I have experienced. Freedom from medication, freedom from guilt, freedom from self-hatred. I used to fall asleep at night in tears, hating myself and hoping that the next day I would be able to eat less and less and less until there was nothing left of me. Now, I fall asleep knowing that I’ve done my best for that day to show my children that food is wonderful, food is energy, food is strength.
So, now what? Almost a year and a half after my second round of Whole30, this is how I live: All the food that I eat in my home is Whole30 approved. Because I am a stay at home mom, this makes up about 90% of my meals each week. When I go out for dinner with friends, holidays, or special occasions, I enjoy myself and eat whatever I feel like eating, knowing that I will most likely not feel my best the next day. I understand that when I do this, I am not choosing the best fuel for my body. But because I do not do this often, I am completely okay with those choices. There is no more guilt associated with poor food choices. I am not ‘cheating’ on some kind of diet; I am making conscious decisions. This kind of balance works for me. My body feels better than ever. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am a good example for my children. I feel healed.
If you feel guilty about your food choices, if your body feels exhausted, or if you just want to clean out your system, I really encourage you to check it out. Click here to check out the official program.
If you decide to try out the program or if you have any questions, I would love to be a resource for you. Almost all of my recipes filed under ‘Cooking with Joanna’ are Whole30 approved, and I think you’ll find my Ten Tips for a successful Whole30 very helpful. I am happy to answer any questions you might have and would love to offer encouragement! Follow me on Instagram at @wellnesswithjoanna also, as I am constantly collecting and sharing Whole30 approved recipes from other recipe bloggers. Happy Whole30-ing!
And PS – so much thanks to that friend for sharing her Whole30 experience on Instagram. You know who you are.
Reblogged this on Journey Into Balance and commented:
This truly is a powerful way to fuel your body! I’m finishing up day 26 and now that my journey is just beginning!
Thank you so much for this Joanna! Reshared on fb and I’m gearing up for another whole30 start for August-I still seem to fall back off the wagon after a while but know in my heart how I feel best when I’m eating clean!
Thank you so much Rachel!
It truly is! Thanks for reading and following!
Love your story. Congrats on your success!
Thank you so much!
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Nice Blog, thanks for sharing this kind of information.
Thanks! You’re welcome.
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Heya! I know this is sort of off-topic however I needed to ask.
Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a massive amount work?
I’m brand new to operating a blog but I do write in my diary everyday.
I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and views online.
Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas
or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!
I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!
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Hi…your story resonated with me on so many levels. I completed a whole 60 and have stayed 98% compliant another 45 or so days. I feel sure this is how I should continue to eat. I have dieted off and on for over 30 years. To make a long story short before Whole 30 I felt like a slave to my cravings…almost helpless. I never purged but I binged frequently. I am now so afraid of trying any former comfort foods or favorites for fear of cycling right back to where I was back in Jan. I have lost the same 10 # about 5 times and recently lost 23#. I was miserable and hated myself for knowing better and not doing better. Like then, I know I should do but will I? Any pointers for allowing myself some indulgences without fear of going back to that terrible place I was before?
Hi there! Congratulations on completing a Whole60 and even more! That’s fantastic. It sounds like your relationship with food may not be completely healed, even though your physical body is healed. For cases like this I often suggest finding an accountability partner, a health couch, or a counsellor or someone who can help you work through learning how to continue on with normal life and allow indulgences without triggering binges after. I have some rules for myself to help with similar issues – everything I eat in my house (about 80-90% of my food intake) is Whole30 or extremely close to Whole30. When I’m out at a restaurant, I can make a conscious choice to eat something less healthy, knowing in my mind that 85-90% of my food choices are fantastic for my body, and so there is no guilt or “cheat” feelings surrounding my less healthy choice at a restaurant. It takes practice and a LOT of mental effort. I’ve worked for a long time on my personal feelings surrounding food and my mental mindset regarding healthy vs unhealthy, guilt, etc. You CAN get to that point, I promise!
Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about
this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message
home a little bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog.
A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.