My husband and I are just about to finish the Whole30 diet and I don't know if I've ever felt so good before! I wouldn't recommend a diet without trying it first, but having experienced first hand the benefits of the Whole30, I am here to tell you what it's all about and why I am such a fan.
If you've read my story, you know that last year was a tough year for me as I found out that I had Hashimoto's, gastritis and a 3 cm hernia in my oesophagus. I've always had issues with my gut, but dealing with discomfort most of your life leaves you thinking that what you are feeling is entirely normal, and you learn to ignore it. Funnily enough, your body finds ways to force you to listen when you've taken things a little too far and for me that started with gastritis - one of the most painful things I have ever personally experienced.
My husband gifted me an appointment with a top London dietician in the hopes that we could get to the root of my problems and find natural ways to improve my situation. I did an blood intolerance test, which came back with results that I found hard to swallow - I was intolerant to almonds, rice, bananas, black pepper, all dairy, eggs, lettuce, spinach, yeast, parsley...the list went on and on. The goal was to eliminate these things for three months and then slowly reintroduce them back into my system to see how I'd respond to them.
Starting this elimination process towards the end of the year with holidays right around the corner was an absolute nightmare. I was angry I had to do this, and the entire time I complained that nothing felt different and it was a waste of time. My husband had to eventually point out to me that I was no longer complaining as much about stomach pains as I used to, and the truth is that finding what I could eat did get easier. I soon started to pay more attention to how I was feeling and realised I was doing so much better than before - I had more energy and less pain. So this year when my husband and I both came to each other with the exact same diet to try - the Whole30 - we decided to go for it.
What is the Whole30?
The Whole30 initially sounds like a laundry list of things you cannot eat: no grains, dairy, gluten, alcohol, beans, soy, or sugar of any kind (except for fruits) for 30 days. The natural question that follows when we tell people what we are doing is: well, what can you eat?! I won’t lie... for 30 days, eliminating so many foods from your daily diet is challenging, to say the least. But the fact is - it’s well worth it and you soon learn what to eat and how to make it! When you realise that you CAN have proteins (fish, chicken, eggs), potato and sweet potato (starch), fruits and vegetables, Ghee and good fats like avocados and coconut, and even coffee (just no dairy or sugar), you come to terms with the reality that this diet is really not that hard to maintain. Yes, it requires a degree of forethought and preparation if you are going in to work every day, but it's manageable! Your focus is on whole, unprocessed food - which is something we should all be paying more attention to.
The goal of the Whole30 is to reset your body, diminish cravings, and change old eating habits in order to reset your metabolism, improve immune system function and, personally most importantly, to reduce inflammation and aid the digestive system. It may at first seem like slim pickings and you spend a lot more time thinking through your meals, but in turn you gain an incredible awareness of the foods and - better yet - ingredients you put into your body. Reading labels, I continue to be staggered by the amount of sugar in almost everything we buy at the supermarket! I almost cried when I finished putting Sriracha on my eggs only to find out it was full of sugar!
What to Expect on the Whole30
Others that have been through the Whole30 will likely attest to the fact that the first two weeks are far from easy. I found myself eating a lot of fruits to satisfy my sugar cravings (which kind of defeats the point), I was tired, hungry often and certainly went through phases where I thought I might actually be gaining weight. I'm not sure exactly when the shift kicked in, but I now feel an energy and clarity of mind I haven't had naturally before, I love what it feels like to NOT be bloated, I don't worry about overeating, I find it quite easy to find foods I can eat and my gut feels good for a change! I believe that this is what the below image refers to as TIGER BLOOD. I won't lie, it does make being social something of a challenge, but hard is not impossible and though you may have to be that awkward person combing through the menu as you give the waiter the lowdown on all you can't have - people are usually more impressed with how good you look and feel than how annoying it is to not be able to have alcohol and partake in the bread basket. Plus it's true, you do stop craving junk food - because you've stopped feeding the bacteria in your micro biome that craved the wrong foods, that bacteria will die down as new (better) bacteria flourishes. Your skin looks great and towards the end of the diet you start to burn fat instead of sugar, helping you to trim down.
We've been such fans of this diet that it is our intention to stick to it as much as we can. Watch this space for healthy recipes with Whole30 approved ingredients!