Yes, that’s right. It’s over.
Eating well is not over, eating with limits and rules is not over, but following the Whole30 strict, ascetic, ruthless plan is over.
One of the things the Whole30 promises to do is break your bad food habits. Part of the way this works is that, while following the Whole30, you have no reason to care about eating. All the pleasure of food is removed, and what you are left with is bare nutrition.
I don’t actually think that seeing food as mere fuel is healthy. Food was created to bring joy and pleasure into our lives, to testify to us of the goodness of God.
Why I Quit
- There was not a single day on the Whole30 where I felt more awesome than I did previously, on my own particular regime. Sure, I felt somewhat better than I did during the month of December, when I consumed far too much sugar. But I did not feel better than I would have if I had simply gone back to my own food rules.
- Though I made it to Day 18, I still got headaches, my face was still getting new blemishes, I still had an afternoon energy slump, I was still hungry between meals, I had not lost much weight, and I slept like any sleep-deprived mother-of-5-young children: well, when I could. In addition, my friend, who was two days ahead of me and quit the day after me, also felt no benefits on the Whole30 than she did before.
- It was simply too much work for benefits that were not materializing. It was so much work, and the only payoff was utter food boredom. So, I had to do a lot more planning and chopping and thinking and refraining (and still cooking forbidden foods for my children and for families I had to take meals to).
- There was no way I was going to continue eating that way after the 30 days, so even if some of the benefits started kicking in after 20 days, why would I care if I had those benefits for less than ten days? Was fewer than ten days of “awesome” worth 30 days of asceticism? I did not think so.
- Even food that I enjoyed previously, like roasted brussels sprouts and eggs for breakfast (which I have eaten for 98% of my breakfasts for over three years) suddenly were unappealing and even unappetizing. I really don’t know why this was, but it began on about day 4 or 5 and never let up.
Good Things I Learned on My Whole18
- My food habits were not as stellar as I had imagined. It is easy to be self-deceived about one’s habits. In the past I’ve done weeks of zero sugar and learned from it that I had actually been having much more than I had thought. On the Whole30 plan, I learned that I ate bits of the kids’ food much more often than I realized. I did not think that I ate remainders while cleaning up or bits while cooking, but from the number of times I stopped with my hand half-way to my mouth, I was actually doing so all the time.
- I missed dairy the most. I think I could actually do Whole30 prettily easily and happily if it was not so strict about added sugar that I had to read the ingredients on meats (bacon, ham, rotisserie chicken, marinades, etc.) and if dairy fats (butter, sour cream, cream, and cheese) were allowed.
- I can keep hard resolves. Probably the best thing that came out of this experiment is that I learned that my willpower is stronger than I thought. When I quit the Whole30, it was from a reasoned, considered-for-24-hours & discussed-with-others choice, not a giving in to temptation.
- My cravings are not as strong as I feared. This is another reason why I felt the Whole30 was not worth the effort. It turns out that though I severely missed good food, I didn’t really have strong cravings that paralyzed me or were fatiguing. Sure, I didn’t like it, and I wanted chocolate and butter and wine, but it was because those things are delicious and not because I was physically or psychologically addicted.
My Whole30 Theories
- My current opinion is that it works for two kinds of people: 1) Those who ate poorly before and need a hard reset; 2) those who have already intellectually and emotionally bought into the paleo philosophy (and thus will interpret everything in light of that presupposition). Personally, I do not accept the fundamental assumptions the paleo philosophy makes about history or food, and I was already eating protein at every meal, limiting my starch, and I was aware of the side effects of sugar (though I still often chose to partake and deal with the consequences). So I did not fit into either category.
- It is a good exercise to discover what your real habits are and to reset your taste and tolerance for sweet things. And, if you need a guided plan for getting used to eating more vegetables and having adequate protein at each meal, then it might be a useful program, but I don’t think you need to follow so many rules or so harsh a way of living.
Like I said, I am not now going to eat without any guidelines or without a plan, but I will return to the way of eating that I had already spent years tweaking to fit what seems to work best for me.
Tomorrow I’ll post my own personal eating plan, and I’d love to hear what yours is, if you have one! I’ll make it a link-up and you can share any posts you’ve written on what makes food work for you instead of against you. I think each person needs to figure out what works best for herself individually. A predetermined plan like Whole30 might make a good starting point if you’ve never worked out how food affects you, but your own long-term solution is going to have to be a customized, personalized lifestyle plan.
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. – Ecclesiastes 9:7