Two months away from turning 30 years old, I decided to try the Whole30® program. For 30 days (actually 35 days if I include the five day re-introductory period), I did not eat any processed foods, dairy, soy, legumes, grains, added sugar, or alcohol.
The premise of Whole30 is to eat ONLY real, clean food for 30 days in order to learn about your personal relationship to food, how food impacts your health, and identify any food-based intolerances or allergies. My diet was entirely made up of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, natural fats, herbs, spices, and seasonings.
This was my first time trying a restrictive elimination diet. I decided to commit to Whole30 to see if I had any food allergies or intolerances. I was also curious if Whole30 would improve any of my health conditions (depression, anxiety, alopecia areata, and type 2 prediabetes). Additionally, my wife wanted to try something new and see the financial impact of changing our eating and drinking habits.
Here are nine things I learned from my experience with Whole30:
1. Eating nutritious, healthy, clean food is cheaper than dining out. On average, we saved 33% of our monthly food and alcohol budget!
2. Eating nutritious, healthy, clean food is just as delicious as processed food or food prepared by restaurants.
3. Meal planning is essential and helps reduce food waste. My wife and I planned all of our meals in advance, washed/chopped produce and meat on the weekend to make cooking quick and simple, and cooked in large batches so that we could eat leftovers for lunch or incorporate them into another meal.
4. Having fruits and vegetables readily available for snacks is helpful.
5. It’s way easier to eat well when my wife and I work together to plan and prepare our meals (instead of doing it on my own!).
6. I lost weight.
7. I have a slight gluten intolerance and an intolerance for miscellaneous animal parts (i.e. sausage casing).
8. I gained more energy. My levels of depression and anxiety were lower than normal.
9. I was motivated to be more active. While completing the Whole30 I preferred participating in active activities (like hking, biking, picnicking at a park, and snowboarding) over my normal social activities (like reading a book, watching TV, and trying a new brewery or restaurant).
Everyone’s experience with Whole30 is different. For me, it’s led me to lower my gluten and added sugar intake permanently. I’m hoping this reduction will help my energy and a few health conditions. The Whole30 has also piqued my interest in nutrition. Researching nutrition and healthy eating and reading Meghan’s (Project Angel Heart’s registered dietitian) blog posts has taught me a lot about how to continue on this journey.
Cortney Paddock is Project Angel Heart’s volunteer resources coordinator. As a Denver native, she has been a community supporter of Project Angel Heart’s events since she can remember, and first joined the staff in December 2015 as a client services assistant. Cortney is an avid reader, cook, and creator who can be found scanning the shelves of the fiction and cooking aisles at any Denver Public Library.