Why Whole 30 Isn’t For Me

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Remember when I decided to commit to Whole30? I only lasted four days.

It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying — I was excited and invigorated by the challenge and meal prepped my heart out ahead of time. I was having a blast trying out new meals that were Whole30 compliant.  I felt completely prepared. But, even the best laid plans don’t always work out. Especially when you’re a reporter.

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On two of the days I was following Whole30, I found myself driving more than two hours away and back for stories. That’s how I typically spend about half of my work week — on the road and out in the field. Because my lunches have been protein-heavy on Whole30, they usually have to be refrigerated. That meant I left my food behind at the office and found myself on the road with few options to choose from when it came to eating on the go. Compliant jerky and deli meat are hard to come by, especially in rural Indiana towns. I found myself eating nothing but cashews and fruit on those long days. By the time I got back to the office I felt miserable, dizzy and completely zapped of energy.

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I went to the Whole30 forum for help, asking for on-the-go meal ideas. I did get some good suggestions — take hard-boiled eggs, canned meats, and jerky. But, that didn’t sound sustainable to me, even for just 30 days. I typically don’t know what my work day will look like for 3 out of 5 days of the week. Somedays I get done with work at 5, somedays it’s at 8. I try to plan as best I can, but it becomes difficult to do when there are few meal options that can make it through the day without being refrigerated. Somedays that means reaching for an almond butter sandwich or a Jimmy John’s lettuce wrap instead of starving myself.

That’s why I’ve decided not to continue Whole30. James is so, so happy after seeing how zombie-like I was during the four days I lasted.

I have, however, learned some very important lessons from my short stint with the program that I’m trying to keep in mind and incorporate with my daily eating habits.

Sugar is in everything.

I’ve always been a label-reader when buying food, but sugar wasn’t always something I paid super close attention to. Now, I do. And, I’m appalled by how many products it’s added to. Why does chicken sausage require cane juice? Some frozen veggies and fruits have added sugar. And, just about any cereal you can think of is packed with at least 8 grams of the addictive stuff. This revelation has completely changed the way I grocery shop.

I eat way too many grains.

I had no idea how large of a percentage of my diet was made up of grains until I gave them up. Turns out I was eating them as part of every meal, everyday. That’s a problem. I’m trying to swap grains out for hearty salads or baked potatoes at meals to reduce my consumption. It hasn’t been too hard — my goal has been no more than two servings of grains per day.

You don’t always need that drink.

Some people say not drinking is the hardest part of Whole30, but I actually found that to be the easiest part of my diet to eliminate. While I love good beer and wine, it’s never something I couldn’t live without. I tend to reach for a drink mainly in social settings. The program was a good reminder that going out for drinks isn’t about the drinks themselves — it’s about the people you’re with.

I have a co-worker who is now on day six of Whole30., so I may ask her to do a guest post if you’re interested in hearing about her experience. Have you tried Whole30? How did it feel?

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