7 Lessons from our Whole30

First of all for those who don't know, the Whole30 is an eating plan that lasts 30 full days. During that time, you abstain from all grains, dairy, legumes (which includes peanut butter), anything with added sugar, and basically anything processed. John and I did it together starting January 1st - the kids did not participate (well Teddy did but she had no choice!).

"So what in tarnation did we eat!?"

LOTS of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and good protein. All month, we cooked with ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil instead of butter or vegetable oil.

What worked/Lessons Learned

Lesson 1 The difference between hunger and craving Before Whole30, I would go for a snack or second helping, but what I learned is that I wasn't really hungry...I was craving SUGAR! I learned this early on in the first week and this awareness of what hunger really feels like has been my favorite takeaway from this experience. The Whole30 people ask, "Are you hungry enough to eat a bowl of steamed broccoli?" That's real hunger and my litmus test.

Lesson 2 Drink more water! Sometimes, I would think I was hungry, but I was actually thirsty! As a nursing mama, I thought I was staying on top of my water intake but since I couldn't just grab a lactation cookie or sandwich every time I thought I was hungry I realized sometimes I could be satisfied with 8-10 ounces of water.

Lesson 3 I need healthy fats. Avocados are LIFE on Whole30. I quickly realized I needed to make sure I had enough healthy fats so I ate an avocado almost every day which leads me to number 4...

Lesson 4 Whole30 is EXPENSIVE and it is cray cray to do this in the dead of winter when produce is most expensive and scarce. I'm kind of embarrassed by how much we spent on groceries this month. I only ate out for three meals and John ate out for two, but even if I count what we normally spend on eating out...we spent more :(

(toasting water on our first date night post-Teddy's birth!)

IF we do this again, it will be when we can eat fruits and vegetables out of our own garden.

Lesson 5 Listen to my body if I think I'm missing something in my diet. Unique to nursing mamas is that we have to listen to our bodies. Because Teddy is a good sleeper, I pump every night before I go to bed. I noticed a dip in my supply about 5 days in that didn't correct itself until I added a bowl of plain oatmeal to my diet every day AND made sure I ate potatoes or sweet potatoes every day. I needed more carbs in my diet to maintain my milk supply. Likewise, if you feel like something is missing (other than sugar) experiment with eating more healthy fats and/or carbs.

Lesson 6 Eat more veggies! In my normal life, I don't eat enough veggies. Now I've gotten really creative with adding veggies to my breakfast. Unlike some people, I'm happy to eat two eggs every day because they are from our awesome free range, happy chicken eggs. But RARELY would I add even a potato to my breakfast. Now I eat leftover roasted veggies with breakfast every day and I feel more full and energetic because of it. I'm also happy continuing to eat a salad every day for lunch. I am looking forward to eating some homemade gluten free waffles this weekend though for variety's sake!

Lesson 7 Eating clean on the go is hard and requires planning. I got lucky and was able to score $1 Larabars at our local Kroger to use as an easy portable snack but if I got stuck out and about around lunchtime with only a Larabar, it was rough. Other things I tried to keep with me at all time: mixed nuts (not peanuts!), apples, and oranges. Confession: I did eat 1-2 Larabars a day, but I tried not to treat them as desserts or snacks and only ate them when I felt like my meal didn't fill me up.


First of all, we feel great eating this way! We feel lighter, leaner, and more mentally focused. The Whole30 people call it Tiger Blood. I really enjoyed not having the highs and lows of sugar throughout my day.

Secondly, I feel empowered by the extreme exercise of will power it took to make it through the 30 days with no added sugar. You really do have to be vigilant because even a can of plain tomato sauce can have sugar added to it! I'm so proud of us!

Third, I really like the idea of rewarding myself with things other than food. Doing the Whole30 made me realize how often I would treat myself with a cookie...what am I, a dog?! While I don't plan on getting rid of treats altogether (I totally froze 6 cupcakes from Gabe's birthday party on the 21st), it doesn't need to be a daily occurrence.

I read once that Audrey Hepburn ate a very simple Mediterranean diet of whole foods - lots from her own garden - but that she had a drawer of dark chocolate from which she would savor squares. Let's call that a wistful aspiration!

But here's what you really want to know...

I lost 11 pounds and John lost 12 pounds! In just 30 days!

(early morning excitement pic after our final weigh in!)

I think John would have lost more but between you and me he relied heavily on handfuls of nuts to satisfy him when he was still hungry. I'm still so proud of us both!!!

I weigh one pound less than I did before I got pregnant with Teddy. I'm still not at my pre-all-the-babies weight but I am still nursing and in the past those last 5-7 pounds didn't go away until I weaned. I plan on continuing to eat paleo 80% of the time to maintain the progress I've made and because I sincerely enjoy eating this way. One interesting thing is that I actually lost 10 of the 11 pounds in the first 18 days. Praying that's not a sign it was all water weight or something!?

If you want to try Whole30, I highly recommend recommend reading It Starts With Food and cooking from Danielle Walker's Meals Made Simple cookbook. I also love Walker's blog Against All Grain! BTW: All three of Walker's books are on sale on amazon right now! Meals Made Simple is my all-time fave cookbook - gluten free or not!