Whole30 {Clean Eating, More Energy & a Happy Heart}

The past 30 days have been a roller coaster. I can't believe I completed the Whole30 challenge! I don't normally share posts that have all iPhone photos in them but this was an exception! In case you haven't heard of Whole30, here is a snippet from the Whole30 website:

What is the Whole30?

Established by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (of Whole9) in April 2009, the Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.

So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.

What I learned on Whole30

I had been thinking about doing a cleanse of such for a while and I decided April would be the perfect month to do it. April was before wedding season really started, there weren't any big holiday's, and it was right at the beginning of spring. One of my best friends Helen Lane has done Whole30 a few times and was my coach and encouragement through the whole process! I am not into diets or anything to help you lose weight fast but I am all about eating healthy and feeling good. So I went for it!

I had no idea what to expect or what I would feel or experience during the 30 days. I knew I would learn more about food and learn what it feels like to eat clean. The first two weeks sucked because my body was on detox and was cleaning out all the sugars and processed crap. After week two I started to wake up earlier with more energy, I felt full longer throughout the day, and I was loving a lot of the new recipes I was making! The experience was incredible and I have learned so much. 

Here are a few things I learned/am taking away from Whole30:

  • Eating clean gives me more energy
  • My digestive system is happy! (I am lactose intolerant and used to take a lactaid pill with almost every meal. Now I will eat dairy more sparingly because my body feels so much better when I skip the dairy)
  • I will forever make my own salad dressings. It is so easy and they taste so fresh! And it only takes 5 minutes.
  • Eating crappy proceed food makes me tired and groggy. Yes I will still eat pizza and pasta but will not have it as often as I did before Whole30. It becomes more of a treat instead of a weekly meal. And if I am making pasta I will make whole wheat pasta or zucchini pasta instead of regular. 
  • I missed wine a lot but got used to not having it after a while. I only really missed it when we were out with friends. It is definitely not needed at every meal and will be enjoyed more when it is only a few times a week. 
  • There are so many foods that I enjoy now including cauliflower, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, ghee, almond butter, and zucchini noodles. I enjoy cooking more because I know what I am making is healthy. 
  • I will not be eating Whole30 all the time, but want to incorporate it into meals throughout the week. There are many easy and healthy choices you can make at meals including making your own salad dressings, choosing lettuce under a burger instead of a bun, having flavored carbonated water instead of soda, or making quinoa instead of pasta. 
  • Don't be afraid of the blender or food processor. Before Whole30 I had never used either of these kitchen devices. Now I use them all the time! I used to think they were so big and bulky to get out and use and clean but they are so great for making a lot of different things. It is great for making cauliflower rice, dressings, and homemade mayo.
  • Fruit is fast food! Since there wasn't much to snack on, I fell in love with fruit all over again. It is sweet, fresh, delicious, and easy to prepare.
  • Sugar is in MOST foods we eat. Helen taught me to read labels, read labels, read labels. If there are a million ingredients on the label it probably isn't something you want to eat. Fresh is best!
  • You can still eat healthy when you go out to eat, I now know what is good to eat at restaurants and what is not the best choice. 
  • I have been doing CrossFit for 2 and a half years now and finally realize that being fit is about 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. I always thought it was the other way around. It is so true that you can workout all you want but if you are eating crappy you won't feel great or be as fit as you would want. I don't want to be crazy ripped but it was nice to lose a little bit of my fat over Whole30 just from eating clean and working out the same amount! 
  • God gave us amazing bodies and it is our job to take care of it. I want to glorify Him with my life and if I am not taking care of my body I won't have the energy I need to be a good wife, photographer, friend, mentor with Araminta, etc. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

Here are a few of the practical benefits (taken from the Whole30 website but I experienced all of these!):

  • More than 95% of participants lose weight and improve their body composition, without counting or restricting calories. 
  • consistently high energy levels
  • improved athletic performance
  • better sleep
  • improved focus and mental clarity
  • a sunnier disposition. (Yes, more than a few Whole30 graduates said they felt “strangely happy” during and after their program.)
  • a dramatic reduction or elimination of cravings, particularly for sugar and carbohydrates. The words so many Whole30 participants use to describe this place? “Food freedom.”

I wanted to include some of the recipes I made over the course of the past 30 days. Pinterest is an AMAZING place to find healthy recipes! You can follow my Whole30 board here. Most of them take under 30 minutes to prepare and were delicious. Kevin didn't do Whole30 with me but did try the meals I made and liked a lot of them! The things I craved the most while on Whole30 was wine, chocolate, and pizza. I didn't miss pasta and chips as much as I thought I would. It was interesting!!

If you are looking for a cleanse or want to try a new lifestyle of food and feel great I highly recommend doing Whole30. It will change the way you think about food forever! If anything, I think it is important to know what you are putting in your body. I obviously will still enjoy things that are not healthy but it will be more in moderation and not to satisfy a craving.

Enjoy these iPhone shots of some of my favorite meals! Try some just for fun!

What an amazing 30 days!! Thank you to Kevin for helping me cook, trying the meals, and helping me clean up the hundreds of dishes. You are the best! I hope this post was informative and encourages you to think more about what you eat. If you want to learn more, check out the Whole30 website. They have a ton of information about the program.