My Whole30 Diet Program Experiment
I am not happy with my current state of health and weight.
I finally decided to do something about it. Again.
I have dieted in the past with the goal to lose weight. But I have found it difficult to stick to the plans. I have lost weight. Found it again. Plus some extra!
It will be different this time. I will blog about my experiment. This blog documents my commitment. Hopefully, this will be incentive to stay on the straight and narrow for 30 days. Please follow along as I chronicle the journey.
My aim this time is more than just lose weight. I want more than weight loss. I want fewer aches and pains and more flexibility.
I am convinced our diets have much to do with our health.
So I researched to find the best weight loss diet program. I read many weight loss diet program reviews. Plus I had a long discussion with my youngest daughter. She was starting the Whole 30 program with her family.
I found a U.S. News & World Report article, “U.S. News & World Report Reveals Best Diets Rankings for 2017” that ranks the best diets and programs. This is a good starting point for doing research on an appropriate diet plan. According to U.S. News, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is the best overall plan. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), helped develop DASH. They publish free guides on the plan.
U.S. News did not rank the Whole 30 program very highly. Whole30 was 38th overall out of 38 places. The Whole30 program is based on you giving up sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy for 30 days. This is a highly restrictive diet to reset your habits. And is difficult to follow considering the rules (outlined below).
So, I did more research on the Whole30 Program. I also read Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s books, “It Starts with Food“ and “The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.”
The Whole30 Program premise is simple—change your health (tastes, blood sugar regulation, hormonal balance, digestion, immune system), habits (how you reward, self-soothe, comfort, and show love to yourself), and emotional relationship with food (losing cravings, attachments to, and dysfunctional thoughts around food), and a healthy body composition has to follow. It HAS to. But it doesn’t work the other way around.
“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.”
― Melissa Hartwig, It Starts with Food
“It Starts with Food” outlines the science behind the Hartwigs’ basic nutrition recommendations. They discuss their Good Food standards, which food groups fail those standards and why. They also include which foods you should be including on your plate on a daily basis.
They talked about the Whole30 (outlining the rules and the basics). “It Starts With Food” is about their big-picture nutrition recommendations. And encourages you to use the Whole30 to figure out for yourself which foods made you more or less healthy.
But the book does not give you details about exactly how to complete the program. This is where “The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom” excels.
The “Whole30” book answers the question how to make changes. The book:
- walks you through the program rules,
- prepares you for your 30-day journey,
- explains a typical program day-by-day timeline, and
- has an extensive FAQ, cooking tips, and more than 100 delicious Whole30 recipes.
Whole30 Program Benefits
Whole30 claims many benefits. In the book “Whole30” they are classified as “Non-Scale Victories” in that they are not measurable. The benefits are broken down into:
- Physical (outside)
- Physical (inside)
- Mood, emotion, and psychology
- Brain function
- Sport, exercise, and play
- Food and behaviors
- Lifestyle and social
The biggest benefit of the Whole30 program is the elimination of processed foods from your diet.
Americans are addicted to snack foods. Plain and simple. Because the food industry spends millions researching the best combination of tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami) to create the best sensation of eating food. Consider the effort spent testing crunchiness of chips to find the most satisfying crunch!
Food researchers are constantly looking for the perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more. They condition your brain to look for the best food tasting sensation.
And let’s talk about “empty calories” for a moment. The reason ultra processed foods like snacks are considered empty is because they are engineered not to turn on the body’s “I am full” switch. Foods that “melt in your mouth” signal to your brain that you’re not eating as much as you actually are. That’s why people can eat entire bag of chips in one sitting. Unless they are physically full, the brain never gets the satiety signal to stop eating.
Whole30 Program Risks or Disadvantages
Discuss with your doctor first! The following are some of the risks or disadvantages of the Whole30 program.
- Eliminates entire food groups. Whole grains, dairy, and legumes are on the banned food list. The theory behind eliminating these groups is that people do not know which foods cause their health issues. After the end of the 30-day period, people can start adding food back to their diet one by one. This will help identify the “bad actors.”
- Impacts medications. Diet changes may impact how prescribed medications react. Switching to a low carb, high fat diet like the Whole30 program may change the requirements for cholesterol medications, for example. Definitely discuss with your doctor before starting!
- Promotes meat consumption. This seems to fly in the face of nutritional recommendations from doctors and dietitians. Even if the meat is pastured, free range, or growth hormone free. According to Melissa Hartwig, the Whole30 program meat recommendations are within government guidelines.
- Requires extra time for meal preparation. If you are not used to cooking your own meals, Whole30 will require more time for food preparation including meal planning. this is one of the reasons I bought an Instant Pot.
- Difficult to maintain for 30 days. Being an elimination diet, the Whole30 program is difficult to maintain for 30 days.
My Whole30 Program Steps to Getting Started
Getting started with the Whole30 program is a 5 step process.
Step 1. Choose your start date. This sounds easy. But before starting any diet or exercise program, it is important to discuss with your doctor. As seniors, our metabolism has slowed and it is common to have health issues. Your doctor will know if a change in your diet will have an impact on any medication you may be taking. Also, your start date may impact your vacation plans or important dates in your life.
Step 2. Build your support team. Because Whole30 can be a radical lifestyle change. Involve your family and friends with your experiment. Let them know you are committed to making changes. In addition to my family, I have involved you! I have publicly committed to this program by blogging about my Whole30 program experiences.
Step 3. Get your house ready. Get rid of the junk food. Organize your pantry and refrigerator. I set aside one shelf in my pantry for my food items. This way I do not have to look at other family members’ food. Same thing for the refrigerator. Also, plan some meals. Start with a 7-day meal plan. Prepare a shopping list. And then go shopping.
Step 4. Plan for success. This sounds obvious stated Captain Obvious! But there will be obstacles in your way. Unplanned invitations to dinners and parties, for example. Sudden cravings for junk food. So be prepared with healthy snacks. I had a craving for something crunchy the other day. I could have eaten several cookies. But I made the healthy choice of an apple instead.
Step 5. Toss that scale! The Whole30 program is not about measuring weights, waists, or counting calories. Measuring just adds stress to the process of healthy change. The only thing that helps is a before and after picture. At the end of 30 days, you can let the results speak for themselves. Besides, if you are feeling better, have more pep, sleeping better, and other changes, there are really no ways to measure these. Also, you can’t measure satisfaction of your clothes fitting better after 30 days.
Whole30 Program Rules
What is a diet program without rules?
It helps me to consider Whole30 a lifestyle change and not a diet. Diets sound like something must be given up. Whole30 is no different.
Foods you can eat.
- Natural fats
- Grain-free flour such as coconut or almond flour
- Nuts and seeds
- Cooking fats such as coconut oil, ghee, duck fat, and extra-virgin olive oil
Foods you cannot eat with the Whole30 program:
- Grains, such as breads, cereals and rice including the pseudo-grains like quinoa
- Legumes, such as beans, peas, chickpeas and peanuts
- Dairy – no milk, yogurt or cheese
- MSG, sulfides or carrageenan
- Food and food items with sugar
- Sugar, real or artificial
- Vegetable oils
Whole30 7-Day Meal Plan
Part of the planning process and being prepared is meal planning. Start with a 7-day meal plan. By planning your meals, you will save money shopping. Here is a sample meal plan.
I find Pinterest a great source for finding recipes and meal planning tips for healthful eating.
Why I am Doing the Whole30 Program
Considering the benefits and risks, I am starting the Whole30 diet program on March 20, 2017. My primary purpose is to find the foods that are giving me health issues, if any. The other main reason is to lose weight. This is my eating healthy reset.
I will create a separate blog post that will record my progress over the next thirty days.
If you have comments, any questions or wish to share your experience intuitive eating, please share by leaving a comment below.