Life after Whole30 is weird.
It's actually kind of ruined my life. But in a really wholesome kind of way. Because the Whole30 discipline is such a healthy way to approach food and fitness and overall health, and it holds a really high standard for what should be put in our bodies. It was so so hard when I was in the midst of the 30 days of no sugar, no bread, no alcohol, constant meal prep and kitchen cleaning and ugh - I felt like the days went by so slowly. And I felt like this way of eating was just so enormously time-consuming and not realistic for our day and age. So many times, I remember feeling sorry for the pioneer women. Because I had the realization that this was their life - cooking and cleaning up for their families. Preparing everything from scratch. Dirtying practically every dish in their pantry and then having to clean every dish - over and over and over again. It felt monotonous. It felt archaic. It felt like sacrifice. It felt like a crap-ton of work. And life is already work. So yeah, I had some low moments, in the midst of Whole30. And that doesn't even include the mood swings from detoxing from all the sugar and caffeine and happy breads.
But this strange thing was happening during all the whining and complaining and headaches and longing for sweets and wines and sweet wines. I was starting to feel a surprising amount of goodness. I was sleeping hard. I was waking up early, with no grogginess. My workouts were strong. My mind was clear. I just felt an intense amount of clarity, like the chaos in my mind was being detoxed along with with the unhealthy foods. So as much as I hated the meal prep, I was starting to really love the feeling of wholeness.
My biggest, most positive takeaways from my Whole30 experience:
1. I think about what I put in my mouth.
Whole30 taught me to read the labels on my food products. Instead of grabbing something because it says "organic" or "all-natural" and thinking that meant it was the healthiest choice, Whole30 taught me to read the labels and decipher the ingredients. There are so many sneaky sugars, preservatives, emulsifiers and chemicals that are in normal, everyday foods. You might think that sounds like propaganda - it's not. Do your research. Don't trust me for a minute - do your own research. The findings are pretty appalling. And once you learn something - you can't unlearn it. And that's what happened to me. Once I understood what soy lecithin and carrageenan actually are, I was much more motivated to find items that simply don't have those ingredients in them. And healthier options do exist, it just takes a little time to find them. The first time I went to the grocery store with a Whole30 list in hand, it took me over two hours to get out of the store. And no, I didn't have my toddler with me. It is just so time-consuming, reading every ingredient on every label of every item. It was exhausting. But now that I've done that work, I simply revisit those same items in the store, and my grocery trip are under 30 minutes now. So even though the process was time-consuming and overwhelming, it paid off with healthier choices that I am able to continuously make, now that I know my options.
2. I realize that everything is way too sweet.
My taste buds had been warped. And I'm going to be bold enough to suggest that yours are probably warped, too. Don't take it personal. It's not really our fault. It's been a slow process of eating "normal food" our entire lives and not knowing what is in it. Our taste buds have been warped because everything has so much sugar in it - like everything. Ketchup, crackers, barbecue sauce, lunch meat, bread, etc. And that's not even the stuff that we know has sugar in it, like cereal and alcohol. And then there's the obvious good stuff, like brownies and ice cream, duh. But I tell you what - after going 30 days without any sugar, and then coming back to it? Everything tastes annoying sweet. Like, obnoxiously, brazenly, almost insultingly sweet. Starbucks lattes? Too sweet. Chocolate chip cookies? Wayyy too sweet. Jeni's ice cream? I couldn't even finish it. I know, you probably want to ban me from your life right about now. If you haven't already stopped reading this post. But I never said that this blog would tickle your ears all the time. I can't help it you guys. I really can't. The truth was glaring me in tongue.
3. I'm discovering how to make healthier meals.
Look, you are probably cooking most days. I know I am. But learning some healthier techniques/recipes/ingredient swaps has been one of the most revolutionary takeaways for me. Because I'm cooking for my family every day, no matter what. We have to eat! And learning that I can spend the same amount of time prepping a meal but ensuring that it is incredibly healthy, made with whole foods (not preservative-laden substitutes) and brimming with irresistible flavor has been such a welcome revelation. These Whole30 meals do not taste like cardboard. It's actually the opposite. They taste better than most meals. In the beginning of the experiment, i definitely craved chocolate after dinner and wanted to throw some Parmesan cheese on top of my spaghetti squash spaghetti. But those desires have diminished significantly. And I feel empowered with some new recipes that are extremely delicious and nourishing. WIN.
There you have it, some of my biggest takeaways from the Whole30 experiment. Since ending Whole30 and eating "normal" again, nothing is really normal. I can't help but think about the health impact of everything I put into my mouth. It's definitely changed my way of approaching food, and I am still in the process of striking the right balance for my family that feels manageable (like, not annoying and high-maintenance) but also with a standard of health excellence. I want to set my son up for a lifetime of wellness, but I also want him to be able to eat a cookie with absolutely no guilt. It's a process, and I am still figuring it out. I'm compiling a shopping list and a slew of great recipes that I would recommend and will be making that available to blog subscribers soon. Let me know in the comments section if something like that would interest you!
If you would like to learn more about my Whole30 experiment, you can read about why I decided to try it. Also, check out my weekly diaries - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Happy discoveries to you!