So, I quit Whole 30 on only day 5. Not because the meals were bad or I was craving a donut (although it did sound great), but because I felt horrible. I was lethargic, cranky, and miserable. I was feeling run down when I expected to feel energized and happy. Healthy food should make you feel great, shouldn’t it?
The basis of Whole 30 is to reset your body. To eliminate cravings and reset bad food habits. Initially, I thought this sounded great. My husband and I would stop our weekly ice cream binges, reduce our take out bills, and overall make healthier choices as a family.
What we found though was that Whole 30 essentially takes all the pleasure out of food. It has you eliminate all sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, artificial ingredients, and legumes (full rules here). What your left with are proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
So, we threw out anything non compliant in our house. We meal planned and grocery shopped and armed ourselves with us much knowledge as possible. Knowing what is and isn’t compliant is super tricky and I found myself googling non-stop while grocery shopping! I spent the Sunday before we began cooking and prepping, and then eating our last meal of pizza, chicken wings, and ice cream. Glorious!
Our meals for the week were all great, including bun-less burgers, Paleo Shepard’s Pie, and my Instant Pot Salsa Chicken. My mother in law was kind enough to make us a Whole 30 compliant frittata for lunches and Paleo Stuffed Peppers, which were to die for!
Monday and Tuesday went off without a hitch. Neither of us felt all that different and I shockingly didn’t crave anything off limits. I was easily able to skip my sweet treats, and my husband learned he enjoyed lettuce wraps for lunch!
Then, Wednesday came. My son was staying at my mother in law’s house for the night and ALL we wanted to do was go out for a dinner date together. But no, no can do. It’s nearly impossible to stick to Whole 30 while dining out, and even if you can, what’s the point? Plain grilled chicken with a side of plain steamed veggies… not worth it! Like I said, Whole 30 removes almost all the joy of eating.
So we stayed home, ate salsa chicken and complained the whole time that we would rather be out enjoying a nice dinner together (one of our favorite things to do that doesn’t happen enough!)
Thursday (day 4) rolled around and we both felt exhausted. We were starting to miss our regular foods like wheat bread for sandwiches, oatmeal, and coffee with milk please! But, we stuck it out and were in bed by 730 PM! Ha.
Day 5 was when sh*t hit the fan for me. I ate my eggs and roasted potatoes for breakfast and set out to run errands with L. By about 10 A.M., I was done. I was sick to my stomach, had a pounding headache, and couldn’t get off the floor. I knew food would help so I ate Whole 30 friendly snacks, roast beef lettuce wraps, an apple with almond butter, and roasted potatoes. Each bite just made me feel worse.
I knew what my body needed, carbs. Whole grain, bready carbs. My blood sugar was low and nothing I was eating was making it better. My poor son played by himself while I laid on the ground for TWO hours debating if I should quit. I texted my family non stop, asking their opinion, will I be a quitter, should I just stick it out? Maybe everyone feels this way?
In the end, I decided to listen to my body and do what was best for me. I gathered up my son, drove to our favorite local deli, and ordered an amazing sandwich on a whole wheat bun with a side of soup. EXACTLY what my body needed. Almost instantly I felt better physically, my headache diminished and my belly started feeling like normal. Mentally, I was still struggling. I just quit. I HATE QUITTING. Maybe I should’ve stuck it out longer? It was kind of pathetic how long I spent stressing over this.
In the end, I am so glad I decided to listen to my body and give it what it really needed. Overall, I feel that we eat healthy on a regular basis. We enjoy our sweet treats and occasional glass of wine but not in excess. Some weeks are better then others, but that’s what moderation is for!
So what did I like about Whole 30?
- Learning new recipes: I don’t often explore new recipes. I have our tried and true go to’s each week but with the Whole 30 challenge I found myself perusing online and in cookbooks for new ideas. Some are recipes that I will go back to again and again.
- Willpower: I was able to cut my daily chocolate after lunch and sweet treat after dinner without even really missing it. Knowing I just couldn’t have it, it wasn’t allowed, kind of made it easier to forget about it.
- My belly was less bloated.
- My husband willingly tried, and enjoyed, new to him vegetables.
What didn’t I like that made me quit Whole 30?
- It is too restrictive. As someone with a history of disordered and restricted eating, I realize now this kind of triggered me. Maybe it is why I started in the first place, falling back into old habits? But the restrictive part of Whole 30, basically the entire basis of the challenge, just made me crave things more. I believe in moderation, and when your told you absolutely cannot have something I think it makes you want it more!
- The time! Oh my gosh was the meal prep time consuming. Sunday it took me about 1.5-2 hours but then each night I was cooking for 30-60 minutes. Without Whole 30, I tend to cook a big meal Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Then something easy on the weekend.
- I was cranky and tired almost the whole time.
- Eggs. I don’t think I want to see another egg for a few months.
Overall, I would never ever attempt a Whole 30 Challenge again. I think if your goal is to complete it then by all means, go for it! I hope you succeed better then I! But I am so happy with my decision to quit and hope to take the things I learned and incorporate them into our daily lives, including yummy paleo meals and knowing that I am stronger then I think when it comes to skipping that cookie I don’t need!
Have you tried Whole 30? What was your experience? Are you currently doing it and reading this, thinking about quitting?