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So… my title is a little clickbaity. I actually probably won’t do Whole30 again, but I reserve the right to change my mind. But the title “Why I Probably Won’t Do Whole30 Again” just feels so wishy-washy. Who’s going to click on that?
If you remember waaaaaay back in January, I hopped on the Whole30 bandwagon with #JanuaryWhole30. I recapped my meals and challenges each week, but I failed in my promise to write about the overall experience in March. Oops.
Why I’m glad I did Whole30
Just because I don’t want to do Whole30 again doesn’t mean I regret trying it in January. I’m actually really glad I challenged myself.
I wanted to try Whole30 for two main reasons.
- I felt like I was becoming dependent on alcohol. To be clear, I wasn’t anywhere close to an addiction, but I’d noticed my tendency to have 1-2 drinks with dinner 4-6 nights a week. That’s not necessarily drinking too much, but I was drinking that much because I felt like I needed it. During Whole30, you don’t drink any alcohol. I wanted that strictness to help me stop drinking for 30 days.
- I felt like I was craving sugar too much. While my overall sugar consumption wasn’t that bad, the cravings for sweet foods concerned me.
While those were the main reasons for trying Whole30, I also figured the diet would help me eat more fruits and veggies. Plus an elimination diet can be helpful for people with Crohn’s Disease.
I already knew that gluten wasn’t a problem for me, since I was gluten-free as a teenager when I saw a nutritionist for my Crohn’s. I also already knew that I can only eat certain forms of dairy, since I’ve had weird dairy issues since I was 10.
But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if other foods possibly caused a reaction in me.
New Healthy Habits
By following Whole30, I learned a lot about my relationship with food. For example, it turns out I didn’t actually have as many sweet cravings as I thought, nor did I eat out of boredom. Instead, I craved flavor. It’s amazing what you discover when you walk around a kitchen trying to find a Whole30-compliant snack! I satisfied my flavor cravings with hot tea and flavored water.
This is definitely something I still keep in mind today when I want to eat when I’m not hungry. I ask myself exactly what I’m craving. Usually it’s just a desire for flavor. Hot tea and flavored water continue to do the trick!
Not drinking for 30 days also reset my relationship with alcohol. While I did drink a lot during my Valentine’s Day party, and I recently over-indulged during a day of wine-tastings, I’ve mostly cut way back on alcohol. Instead of fixing myself a drink every night with dinner, I think about whether or not a drink will enhance the meal. If I’m drinking wine, I also plan two nights of dinners that pair well with the wine so I can split up the bottle.
It did help that in March, Dan and I agreed not to buy any alcohol as a way to reduce our grocery spending. The financial incentive helped me stay on track not to drink too much.
More than two months after finishing Whole30, I continue to consume less sugar. Most mornings I drink hot tea without sugar, after years of drinking hot tea with sugar. Even when I drink Fast Lane, my very strong black tea that needs sugar, I use half as much sugar as I did before. Dessert is a special treat instead of a snack.
My dietary changes aren’t the only lasting result of Whole30.
Dan and I continue to cook more and depend less on processed/frozen foods. Yes, part of our reduced grocery spending in March resulted from a weekly meal of boxed macaroni and cheese… But in general, we spend more time cooking a greater variety of meals.
All of these reasons are why I’m glad I tried Whole30. However, the challenge of strict healthy eating for 30 days is why I’m most glad I did Whole30. Sometimes you just need to challenge yourself to do something hard. I made a commitment to myself, and I followed through on it.
Why I (probably) won’t do Whole30 again
With so many benefits of Whole30, why shouldn’t I go for it again? After all, my first attempt at Whole30 definitely wasn’t perfect, since I slipped up on gluten, dairy, and sugar at least once each. Would a second try for a “perfect” Whole30 be worthwhile?
Not for me, at least not anytime soon.
I lost 10 pounds during Whole30, while trying to eat as many healthy fats and fried food as possible. I did gain 5 pounds back in February, which was a relief to me as someone who was underweight less than a year ago.
When you struggle to gain or maintain weight like I often have, even healthy weight loss requires close scrutiny. One goal of Whole30 is to ignore the scale for the month, to worry less about weight. I don’t have that luxury, and it actually stressed me out to focus so much on maintaining my weight.
Dan and I also spent a LOT of money on groceries in January. We simply do not need to spend that much money on healthy food. Pasta, rice, beans, and sandwich bread are all so much cheaper than the continuous stream of eggs and meat I ate on Whole30. My whole wheat sandwiches are pretty healthy, even if they have gluten. Beans and rice are also pretty healthy, even if they’re legumes and grains.
My reintroduction phase after the elimination diet didn’t tell me anything new. Too much sugar and not enough fiber gives me diarrhea. I can eat dairy fats, but not milk, ice cream, or milkshakes.
The only reason I would try an elimination diet again is if one day, I have a biological child, and I breastfeed that child, and that child shows some irritation. If all that happens, then I would follow an elimination diet under the direction of a doctor.
Finally, while this is only a minor factor, Whole30 produces social limitations. On my 30th day, Dan and I went out for a nice dinner with my twin brother Harry and my sister-in-law Celia. We went to their favorite restaurant during Charlotte’s Restaurant Week. While I did enjoy my homemade potato chips and my tuna, I would have loved to take advantage of the full menu. Restrictions on restaurant dining isn’t a huge reason not to do Whole30, but it is a consideration for me going forward.
I know it’s a month late, but these are my thoughts on Whole30. It was a good experience, and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t plan on doing it again. While I am happy with the lasting changes from Whole30, if I need to reset my habits in the future, I can just go 30 days without added sugar or alcohol. I would still have the same net benefit that I gained from Whole30.