My Take on The Whole30 (& why we need to avoid diets altogether)

I was over at my best friend’s house one night when her mom mentioned to me that she was doing The Whole 30. I rolled my eyes as I do with every diet fad, and she handed me a pamphlet with all of the requirements, they read as follows:

  • No added sugar
  • No alcohol
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats even with “approved” ingredients.

The pamphlet stated “You cannot eat pancakes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pizza crust, alternative flour pasta, cereal, or ice cream. No commercially prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.) or French fries either. However, this list is not limited strictly to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings. Our mantra: When in doubt, leave it out. It’s only 30 days.” (

Sounds crazy right? 

She must have read the confusion on my face because she proceeded. “I’ve lost ten pounds!” she enthusiastically told me. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.”

Now, let me be clear,  I grew up next door to my best friend’s mom, and she was one of my mother’s dearest friends. I have experienced her healthy eating habits, I have hesitantly gone to work out with her (and died a little), and she would walk with my mom weekly  (which by the way, as a teenager, I could never keep up.) She was already very healthy, so when she told me she was doing this “lifestyle change” I was very surprised.  However, my interest was peaked, wanting to eventually take on the challenge.

I continued to do research, and several things became clear to me about this particular “diet”-

  1. The point of the Whole 30 is not to really lose weight (although when you’re not eating processed food, it will inevitably happen.)
  2. The point of the diet is to eliminate things that you react to- in other words, an elimination diet. I have been told that It typically takes thirty days to rid of the toxins in your body, and when you are finished, you slowly bring back the foods that you were eating before to see how your body reacts. This is a really powerful, difficult, and beneficial thing to do- considering what we eat really makes a difference in our general health.
  3. Whole 30 is very similar to the Paleo diet
  4. If you cheat on the diet, you have to start back on Day 1. Yikes.

Ever since being told about the Whole 30, I kept it in the back of my mind. I was waiting to be mentally prepared and motivated to take on the challenge.  

Then my husband and I went to New Orleans, and when we got back we were in a desperate need of a cleanse. The day after we got back, we ambitiously went to the store with our list of minimal items and got busy with planning. This was pretty much how the rest of the thirty days went-

Week 1-2: Three days into the 30 days, we went to a birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant, with no reservation for a party of 15. We were seated at 9 PM, with a plethora of chips and salsa provided. I couldn’t. eat. anything (turns out, corn is in everything). I hangerly ordered my chicken tortilla soup with literally just broth and chicken with a side salad. I was already regretting the decision, but I had to stay focused on the end result!

Week 2-3: We were now in the habit of cooking Whole30 recipes and no longer starving all the time. We figured out some restaurants that were accommodating to what we could eat, however happy hour was still so tempting, and I was still craving Chick-fil-a breakfast. 

Week 3-4: Whole30 was coming to an end and things were much easier at this point. I wasn’t tempted by sugar nor was I craving empty carbs like I usually did by the end of my workday.  I didn’t lose weight per se, but I definitely lost inches, and I gained an immense amount of knowledge during the process.

Even though it was a difficult couple of weeks, it was also very eye-opening. It was a learning process that I would recommend to everyone because with diets, you go back to your old ways when you are finished, with the Whole30, you continue the healthy habits.  Here are several things that were made clear to me after the thirty days-

I really didn’t eat as healthy as I thought I did

I think this is a pretty common realization for people who have attempted the Whole30. Before I committed, I really didn’t think it would be difficult. I would tell Tyler all the time, “we eat really healthy anyways! We wouldn’t be cutting out too much.” Boy, was I wrong, Dairy is in everything. Corn is in everything. Gluten is in everything. It was hard,  but it truly opened my eyes to how much improvement could be made in my day to day regimen. 

It was very evident what caused inflammation for me

The first thing I treated myself to after Whole30 was a latte. Not even kidding, thirty minutes later I was in a fetal position because my stomach hurt so badly. Dairy was an obvious no go for me. Along with that, corn also made my stomach hurt, which was a serious bummer because I love my Tex Mex. Luckily, I didn’t react to gluten or legumes and now know what to stay clear of when I cook and eat out!

If I am investing in anything, it’s going to be food

What we eat is a huge deal. It affects our mood, our sleep, our joints, and our energy levels. After Whole30, I continued to invest in select organic foods, and I am willing to pick generally healthier options. I have become okay with paying a little extra for that food because, in the long run, it will make the most difference in my health.

My cooking was challenged 

The Whole30 made me very conscious as to what ingredients I was using in my recipes. I had to be creative about what I made, and abide by the restrictions given. I was constantly scouring the internet and praising bloggers that committed time to share accommodating recipes. Since doing the Whole30, several of my friends have expressed their willingness to take on the challenge.  I went ahead and compiled a list of my Favorite Whole30 recipes. Hopefully, these will inspire those seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Whole30 is more than just a 30 day challenge

After the thirty days, I took away so much more than just some recipes that I could use again. I am more habitually sound in my eating, and my relationship with food has been positively impacted for the better. I pay attention to my snacking and eat as many vegetables as I can. It changed my outlook on food so significantly that I feel the need to suggest it to everyone that has stomach issues or just wants to start fresh.

The Whole30 is something I would definitely recommend to others. If you are interested, visit and do your own research! 

Again, I compiled a list of my favorite Whole30 Recipes in another blog post, and even if you want to test the waters, they are worth trying. Check them out here and let me know what you think!

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