My Whole30 Became a Whole18

posted in: extra 13

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.

Learn why I quit the Whole30 after only 18 days. I'm still calling it a success - check out my reasons.

Why I Quit

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Learn why I quit the Whole30 after only 18 days. I'm still calling it a success - check out my reasons.

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13 Responses

  1. Pam
    | Reply

    I’m so glad you did this first. I think you were only about ten days in when I decided it just wasn’t for me. ;-) I’m sorry it was such a disappointment for you. I know depriving myself that much and losing very little weight or feeling not so different would be really frustrating for me. Can’t wait to see your personal food rules tomorrow. I have been thinking a lot about making my own diet to follow.

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I think figuring out what works best for you individually is the best way to go, but it takes a lot of observation and reading and time to figure out.

  2. Leah Courtney
    | Reply

    Thank you. Thank you for letting us know you were quitting and why. So many times I read about challenges like this that other bloggers have done and think I must be really weak because I don’t think I could make it. And then I feel guilty because I’m not willing to try some extreme plan. I think it’s important to be honest when it doesn’t work, and I especially am glad that you let us know why. I have some issues with the base of the Paleo plan also even though I think some of the food ideas are good ones.

    So, I’m not glad it didn’t work for you, but I am thankful that you were honest to yourself and to us and didn’t keep a strict adherence to something that wasn’t working.:-)

  3. Jenn H.
    | Reply

    Agreeing with the others that it is good to stop when you know it is not for you. Your take on it was interesting to me because it was the exact opposite of my experience. From the first week of Whole30, food became more flavorful to me. I felt like I was finally able to appreciate the real taste of food without all the extras I was used to. I lost my afternoon slump and my cravings. Different bodies have different needs though and it sounds like this one was not for you. high five for your diligence in it for so long!

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I think your experience probably depends partly on how you were eating before. Except for the holiday season immediately preceding, I was mostly following the food rules I posted today: pretty similar to Whole30, but with dairy and wine and with a couple cheats a week. So, to do Whole30, I just eliminated dairy, wine, and my cheats, and I didn’t replace them with anything. To keep it simple (I still have all my other responsibilities and not much extra energy to experiment in the kitchen), I cooked the same way, just adding an extra veggie to dinner and one to breakfast. If I had worked harder at replacing instead of just eliminating, I might have had more psychological success. :)

  4. Candace
    | Reply

    I can’t tell you how much I LOVE that you posted about this. :) Something you said in your opening sentences, about the food being more than fuel…reminded me of the book Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. Have you read it?? I love it!! And the book talks about that very thing!! I think you hit on some great points with this post. And I’m glad you shared it. :)

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I haven’t read that book. I’ll have to look into it! :)

  5. Paola Collazo
    | Reply

    Hi! You know one of the reasons I am here is because we both have 5 little ones, back to back. The baby is 16 months, still breastfeeding. Whats working for me is, I quit coffee, as a morning crutch and for the dreaded afternoon slump. I switched to tea instead, no sugar maybe honey. Now I have coffee when I want it, not need it. But, for the afternoon slump, i take a tablespoon of coconut oil. It has worked for me. Have a good week!

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I’ve still not tried coconut oil straight. But if it helps with the afternoon slump, I’ll have to try it! Thanks for the tip. :)

  6. Heather
    | Reply

    I was going to try the Whole30, using your simplified plan. But then I decided that there’s no way I can manage it while nursing a baby (and I’m kind of always nursing a baby), and more importantly, I decided we need to try the Feingold diet, for a variety of reasons. So I’m ditching any Whole30 plans, and diving into Feingold.

    My eating plan (although I’ve never written it out) is somewhat similar to yours, and we’ve never done special diets before. So I’m not looking forward to the restrictions, but I am hoping that we’ll see some positive changes that will make it worthwhile.

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I hadn’t heard of Feingold, but I’m not going to try to sell anyone on Whole30. :) I’d never do it while nursing a baby; I need more carbs during that time! Adequate protein at each meal has really made a difference for me, though.

  7. Alicen
    | Reply

    Great post! I found it while searching “meat unappealing Whole30” because here I am at lunch on day 4 and putting a piece of meat in my mouth sounds horrible. I have absolutely no desire to chew protein at the moment and it worries me. With all of the resounding praise I have found, it’s fantastic to find an alternate point of view with strong supporting reasons too. Thanks for sharing this!

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