In January, I challenged myself to try Whole30, an elimination-style eating plan that means no dairy, grains, legumes, added sugars, and alcohol for thirty days. I’m here to share my experience, including what I ate and how it went!
What is Whole30?
After indulging throughout the holiday season, I was looking for a reset and was really intrigued by Whole30 and the potential benefits that I might see from trying the program.
The idea behind Whole30 is to focus on eating fresh, whole foods and remove processed and inflammatory foods from your diet. In addition to banning dairy, grains, legumes, sugars, and alcohol, Whole30 also prohibits calorie counting and weighing yourself. Instead, the program focuses on “Non-Scale Victories” – things like better quality sleep, fewer digestive issues, and more energy.
After thirty days, you slowly reintroduce the foods that were eliminated. The reintroduction phase helps you to understand which foods you may be sensitive to.
What I Ate
Below is what a typical day of eating looked like for me while doing Whole30.
- Breakfast: Two eggs, sweet potatoes and sautéed greens.
- Lunch: A big salad with protein, or some combo of meal-prepped protein and roasted veggies.
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash with homemade turkey meatballs and tomato sauce, cauliflower rice stir-fry, or chicken fajitas on lettuce.
- Snacks: An apple with almond butter, or a handful of almonds or carrots dipped in guacamole were some of my go-to snacks. Whole30-compliant Larabars and RxBars were also a lifesaver when I was really in a pinch.
- Drinks: Tons of water!!! Black coffee and herbal tea.
How It Went
The first week of Whole30 was the hardest. I felt a little off for the first couple of days as my body adjusted, but this is to be expected on Whole30 as your body detoxes from sugar and processed foods.
By the second and third week I noticed that my face was looking less puffy and I wasn’t feeling bloated after eating. I had more energy, was falling asleep quickly and waking up feeling well-rested, and my skin was looking really clear.
One thing that really saved me during my Whole30 was meal prepping. I got into the habit of prepping food for the week on Sunday afternoons, filling my fridge with things like cooked chicken, pre-cut veggies, homemade tomato sauce, and spiralized zucchini noodles. This meant I had snacks ready to go when I got hungry, and that I could throw together a combo of protein and veggies for lunches and dinners when I didn’t feel like cooking.
I won’t lie – Whole30 was pretty tough sometimes, especially socially. I couldn’t go for drinks with friends, because alcohol isn’t allowed on the plan. I couldn’t really go out for dinner, because restaurants often use oils and seasonings that aren’t Whole30 approved. If I had plans, I always had to think ahead about what I was going to eat.
But overall my results were really positive. I felt lighter, had more energy, my skin appeared to glow more, and I wasn’t getting bloated after meals. I discovered that I’m pretty sensitive to gluten and dairy so I’m going to limit these in my diet going forward. I also lost 10lbs, which was a nice surprise!
Would I Do It Again?
For sure! Eating Whole30-compliant all the time wouldn’t be sustainable for me long-term, as I found it too restrictive, but it is something that I would do again to push the reset button. Now that I have completed one round of Whole30, I actually think the second time would be easier! I know how to meal prep properly – and I understand how important being prepared is. Plus, I have discovered lots of Whole30-compliant recipes that I enjoy, and I know what to expect from the program.
What do you think about Whole30? Is this program something you could see yourself trying? Have you tried it before? If so, would you try it again? Let us know more about your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Megan French is a Merchandising Associate at Well.ca. She loves staying active and is currently training for a half-marathon!