For those who personally know us, it’s no surprise when I share that we have been on a health journey this past year that began with a Whole30 challenge in March 2014. For those unfamiliar, for 30 days we removed all processed foods, sugars, dairy, grains and legumes. Basically, we ate meat, vegetables, some fruit and spices (no, sugar is not a spice). For 30 days. I’ve never washed so many dishes! We actually ended up going something like 67 days before adding anything in. This picture was before and after our first Whole30. We were both 10 pounds lighter and felt so much better!
Desperate Times Call for Drastic Measures
That’s how that saying goes, right? No? Well, it’s exactly what happened for us. I have struggled with weight issues since I was a freshman in high school…actually, let’s be honest, it was food issues. Food has been an emotional bandaid I’ve used for a long time.
So why Whole30? Fall 2013, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is the latest in a long line of women in my family who’ve had cancer. In all probability, from where I sit, it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I have to personally fight this battle. In all of our research, we started seeing how much food plays a role in cancers and other health issues (here’s just one of the fascinating articles). So I began thinking of changing up some of my habits. Then, last January, Matt said to me “I just feel like I need to do something drastic.” Matt had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during our first year of marriage, so it has felt like we’ve been on a healthy roller coaster for the last 7 years.
I happened to see a friend post about Whole30 and my curiosity was piqued. So, I started researching it and read the book, “It Starts With Food.” (affiliate link) This book is fascinating and really shares the science behind what food does to our bodies. It was all I needed to be hooked! So I approached Matt about it and I was honestly surprised when he agreed. So there was no turning back now. Ha!
I dug in and started researching Whole30 recipes and began planning out our first week. It didn’t seem too difficult on paper. But in full disclosure, the actual shopping sent me into shock. I was the woman crying in the aisle, questioning my sanity and how I was going to feed my family for the next 30 days. Do you have any idea how many things have sugar in it?! If you don’t, start looking at your labels. Seriously. Eye opening! And depressing if you’re me on your first Whole30 shopping trip.
I experienced quite the sticker shock when I checked out. Whole foods are not cheaper, especially if you don’t know standard pricing or which produce products are budget friendly. I definitely spend more in a month at the grocery store. However, we don’t drink Starbucks anymore (and that was a daily addiction) and we eat out far less. So it’s probably a wash when it’s all said and done.
Those 30 days were difficult! I experienced flu like symptoms on days 16 and 17. 16 and 17! Talk about dismay! I was more than halfway through and STILL feeling horrible. But by day 18 and 19 I felt awesome! I was sleeping so well, I began weaning off my sleep meds.
Overall, we made it 67 days and these were some of the awesome (mostly non-scale) benefits I experienced:
- Lost 10 lbs in first 30 days (as of today I’ve lost 30)
- Psoriasis / dandruff – gone!
- Awesome sleep / Lowered sleep meds
- Digestive Issues – gone!
- Mood swings stabilized
- Toe infection (that I’ve had off and on since jr high) – gone!
- Migraines – gone!
We began reintroducing foods and my body really did not handle anything very well, especially dairy! I began to notice that chocolate gave me anxiety attacks. Bread makes my psoriasis return. And dairy upsets my stomach. Honestly, I don’t miss dairy at all. I didn’t miss bread until I started making homemade loaves last month for my daycare kids and ate a bite…then a few slices. Man is it good!
Ultimately, I appreciate the knowledge more than anything. I make a conscious choice to eat something, knowing what the consequences will be. We make much more informed eating decisions now and have chosen to stick as close to Paleo (meats, veggies, fruits, honey and maple syrup) as we can. There are times (like the last month) that we don’t do a great job, but we definitely feel the effects and know exactly why we don’t feel well.
All in all, I am very grateful for our Whole30 journey!