I haven’t had a piece of bread in over 2 weeks.
I also haven’t had any dairy. Or any sugar.
Not even a Cheerwine.
That’s because I’ve been on The Whole30.
The Whole30, if you’re not familiar with it, is not so much a diet as it is a food reset. You spend 30 days eating pretty much only basic, natural foods.
The 30 day process supposedly allows your digestive system to reset and your mind to form a new perspective on eating. Then after 30 days you slowly reintroduce problematic foods into your diet to find out the way each type of food truly affects your body.
My wife pushed for us to go on the Whole30 to start the year. I’ve had problems with my digestive system over the years so I thought it would be interesting to see if the diet would really have any positive effects.
A little over halfway through the program I haven’t really noticed any significant digestive effects (the book does say it can take the entire 30 days for the process to fully work). I have however found I do have a few other observations:
– I’ve noticed I don’t need a lot of the foods I used to rely on. This one probably seems obvious to anyone who’s stuck with a diet plan over the years. But there really are a lot of things we eat everyday – thinking we just can’t live without them – that you find you don’t really miss all that much.
Sugar in my coffee. A Powerade after a run. Peppermint Iced Coffees and Lattes. A roll or toast with dinner. French fries. Cheese. Butter. Sodas. Desserts.
Even though I haven’t had these things in more than 2 weeks, I haven’t felt like I’m missing out. I’ve been eating full meals 3 times a day that have been fantastic. Breakfast, lunch and dinner has been filled everyday with chicken, hamburgers (minus the bun), steaks, green beans, baked potatoes (with clarified butter AKA ghee), cauliflower mash, broccoli, eggs (so many eggs), fruit and the occasional Larabar (God’s gift to the Whole30).
Now I certainly look forward to having some birthday cake next month. I’m not going to deprive myself of some Bojangles fries forever. And I’d love to order plate of nachos for dinner tonight if I could.
But after this months is over I’ve already decided there’s a few things I thought I could never live without that I don’t ever need to bring back into my diet again.
God created food to sustain us, not to control us. Not to get too preachy, but it really is amazing how much power we give food in our lives if we’re not careful.
– The biggest struggle I’ve had on the Whole30 has been mindfulness. You see there’s absolutely no cheating on this plan. Even if you accidentally eat one ingredient you’re not supposed to consume the book tells you start over back at Day 1. It’s that strict.
This means being watchful over everything you put into your body. Reading the list of ingredients for everything your purchase. Scanning websites and message boards for restaurant nutrition information anytime someone asks you to go out to eat. (Spoiler: you really can’t go out to eat and order anything more than a plain salad and oil & vinegar dressing.)
What’s even harder is just recognizing the many ways we consume unhealthy things. There’s a jar of candy in our church office that I used to grab a mini Twix or Heath Bar out of every time I walked by. I’ve almost done it half a dozen times this month without even realizing it. I’ve also almost put sugar in my coffee a bunch of times as well just out of habit.
I think you’d be amazed too at the mindless habits you have with food. And if we really examined our lives I think we’d all be astonished and a little mortified at how many unhealthy mindless habits we have in other areas as well.
Whether with our relationships, our worklife or our spiritual life there are bad habits we all get into that we don’t even realize we’re doing. That doesn’t mean we have to become complacent.
It ought to be a daily challenge to become more mindful of every action we take. We should constantly be seeking different ways we can become better friends, better coworkers, better Christians and better human beings in general.
– I never would have made it a week on the Whole30 if my wife wasn’t on the plan with me. Heck, I wouldn’t have committed to The Whole30 if it had not been for my wife. She’s the one who really pushed for it and I wanted to support her decision to do it. It would have been pretty much impossible for us to survive if one of us had decided to do the plan and the other didn’t.
We’ve also had a couple of friends on the plan at the same time with us. Our weekly dinner get-togethers along with our group text message that we chat on have really pushed me on through the difficult stages where I want to trade all my hard work for one delicious slice of pizza.
Without Kate’s support and accountability I would have already quit. But I know she’s counting on me to stick it out with her. I watch her pushing through temptation and I know I can too.
We need accountability on diets, and we need it in every area of life as well. It’s tempting to think we can get by on our own. Yet God new from the beginning of time it was not good for man to go through any stage of life on their own.
He created us to be in community together. That means finding a network of supporters to face every challenge.
Now that I’m past the halfway point, I can see the end of the Whole30 in sight. Although it would not have been my first choice for a diet or lifestyle plan, I’m glad I’ve gone on the journey and I look forward to seeing what the completion of the plan will do for my life.
I’m also looking forward to consuming a box of doughnuts in a few days, but that’s another story.
Have you ever done the Whole30 experiment or any other crazy diet? What did you learn along the way?