MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE WHOLE30 CHALLENGE

I just reached day 19 of the Whole30Ⓡ Challenge and I’m LIVING.

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Now I’m guessing you, just like literally every other person I’ve talked to, do not know what the Whole30 Challenge is- well… I’ll explain.

It is a nutrition program that is meant to aid almost every function in the body. Meaning, it’s “designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” (Whole30 website) The biggest part is that this is a challenge, a cleanse, and a diet to the strict definition of “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”, but NOT A WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM.

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This is to reset your body and create healthier habits and relations with food. Yes, if you are “overweight”,  eating donuts every morning with a sugar filled coffee, a pb&j with chips for lunch, and a processed freezer food dinner every day, you probably will lose weight, but if you have a balanced diet don’t expect this to be the “prom diet” that you have been trying to find.  By starting the challenge, I realized that I was consuming crazy amounts of sugars and processed foods without knowing, and I think it is OK to make the assumption that the stressed and overworked High School student is doing the same.

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On this challenge sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol are off limits. This means, just to name a short list,  no yogurt, corn, rice, quinoa, wheat, beans, soy, peas, peanuts, honey, maple syrup, stevia, carrageenan, msg, nor sulfites. And NO tequila! (Sorry sophomores)  So what can you eat?! You can have meat, seafood, eggs, fruits, nuts (besides peanuts because that is a legume and not a nut…mind blown right?),  vegetables, most spices, and coffee/tea.

I definitely recommend you try this, or something similar, at least once in your life. Doing this challenge Is a privilege, because buying compliant food will most likely cost a little more and it can be very time consuming.  The benefits, however, are totally worth it, as you will discover how much food runs your life. Going into it you might think “I can’t live without {insert favorite snack here}!” but you can, and saying you can’t just takes power away from you because snacks shouldn’t run your life..you are stronger than that!!!

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Most people are super reliant on sugars to get through the day and they rarely notice it. Cutting sugar out of your diet has lots of benefits like: no sugar crashes, stomach aches,  cravings, and my skin has become so much clearer. The feeling of accomplishment from cutting these foods out of your diet, proving to yourself how powerful you can be, is amazing. I have so much more energy, something the challenge labels “tiger blood” (cringey right?).

Next, I learned to read labels on EVERYTHING. Ingredients labels and Whole30 websites are my life now, and that’s when I learned things like the “100% lime juice” I bought had sulfites in it, my cooking spray had soy lecithin, and my dried fruit was adding sugar to literally a piece of natural glucose- so many preservatives and unnecessary sugars that I never realized I was eating.  The Whole30 Challenge has forced me to have a cognitive relationship with food beyond counting calories and the nutrition label.

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I’ve learned to make some crazy good meals with these ingredients and have been cooking homemade so much more, really creating a healthy relationship with my food that is very personal and makes eating that much better. I make a meal plan every sunday and prep meals for the week. Having a plan makes the challenge 100x easier, when you know what you’re going to eat it acts as a safety net so you don’t give up.

I’ve also started a habit of bringing healthy snacks with me everywhere- I literally brought chopped cucumber, apples, carrots, celery, and almonds to a party in a lunch box. Eating these rather than quick carb and sugar loaded snacks really helps your stomach and sustain your energy level. This increase in protein and natural foods has helped my fitness, seeing better results in the weight training, has stabilized my mood, and has cleared up most of my acne.

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This is a great challenge, but I’ll admit, it’s not always easy. I definitely recommend doing it with someone else, I did it with my mom, having support and another person to share your meals with keeps you motivated and on track . Taking sugar out is a pain in the ass the first couple days, I felt the withdrawal, and it felt like my soul had been sucked out of me. But the cranky phase passes and then the tiger blood comes in. You can’t go out for a cheap lunch, but you do gain a new appreciation for going out to tea with friends, which is also helps to save money. You will miss cookies, cheetos, donuts and any other sugary munchies you rely on to get through the week  but you learn to live without them. There are so many benefits to this challenge that definitely outweigh the negatives. I really hope that you give this a try because it will all pay off!

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