On a totally spontaneous whim, I decided to try WHOLE30 during the month of November. My cousin was going to do it and I decided to join in to support her and also kick start my own plateau. We were going to be together for a weekend in November to celebrate a family Christmas and I figured we could support each other by avoiding all the sugary deliciousness that goes along with a family gathering. Even though we live 8 hours apart, we’ve been able to support each other through the whole process.

When I started WHOLE30 on November 1st, I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t shopped and filled my fridge with fruits and veggies and planned out my meals. So, honestly, the first few days were quite rough for me. I was drinking coffee without cream, having major sugar withdrawals, and STARVING. But, once I had time to go to the store, and plan out some meals, I did much better. But, I will say that the sugar withdrawal headaches lasted about a week. Pretty scary, huh?!? In fact, I had finally gotten through the sugar withdrawals when I had to work the election on November 8. It was a 16 hour day and I couldn’t leave the center at all. So, I had to take plenty of food to get me through the day and guess what showed up….

…and they smelled Ah-Mazing! But, I didn’t have a single bite and let me tell you. That was BRUTAL!

If you haven’t heard of WHOLE30 you can check out the website HERE. But basically for those that may have food/dietary issues, WHOLE30 is a way to cleanse your body and see how you feel without some of the typical gut-disturbing foods in your system. WHOLE30 is also focused on changing your habits. That was the reason why I committed to it.  It was always so easy to grab something sugary to fill my stomach that I was falling down a horrible whole of sugar cravings and crashes. I knew I needed an intervention and WHOLE30 was just what I needed.

I have never done ANYTHING like this before. WHOLE30 asks that you remove dairy, legumes, grains, sugars, and alcohol from your diet for 30 days. Then reintroduce them at a schedule the book explains to watch for triggers or issues related to your health. The only thing remotely close to this that I have ever done is cut out diet soda from my diet for Lent. That worked really well for me and ever since then, I haven’t been able to drink diet soda or anything with aspartame or sucralose without getting extremely sick to my stomach.

So, back to my WHOLE30 experience. I was all in. I stuck to the plan making my own mayo, searching for a dressing that didn’t have sugar (so difficult). By the way, this was the only one that I found, Bolthouse Farms Classic Balsamic.  During our family Christmas, my cousin and I ate our own specially prepared food avoiding all the delicious sweets and food that appeared healthy but was prepared with butter or soy sauce or other forbidden foods.  I prepared separate meals for myself than I did for my family. I noticed the triggers I had for snacking and when I needed a snack I chose a handful of almonds or fruit or veggies or just didn’t have anything at all. Not once did I have my usual go-to of cookies or candy. I kept baggies of grapes or clementines or apples on hand at all times to battle through late morning/afternoon hungry stages and traveling in the van.

The negatives:
Eating out was tough. It was hard to know exactly how food was prepared…with butter? With soy? So, I just didn’t stress about it. I chose dishes that looked the least detrimental to my WHOLE30 plan and ate what I could. My usual choices were fish or grilled chicken. I still enjoyed the experience of dining out without the pile-on of calories. I also struggled a bit on Thanksgiving. We always eat at Cracker Barrel for our noon meal. I just decided I was going to enjoy the meal that I was paying for. I ate the turkey and ham even though the turkey had gravy on it. I had a couple bites of stuffing. I ate the sweet potato casserole that probably had butter and brown sugar in it. I chose baby carrots as a side even though I pretty sure they were smothered in butter. And, yes, I had the pumpkin pie. I didn’t have the corn bread (which I love) and I only drank water and black coffee. I did have a few bites of other goodies later, on that day, but for the most part, I stuck to the plan.

What did I miss most during this time? Cheese, sugar, and sadly…alcohol. I missed having a glass of wine in the evening once in awhile. I stared longingly at cheese in the fridge. And, yes, like any normal human…I missed sweets. I made brownies and cookies several times over the month and I never once licked the spoon or snuck a bite of cookie dough. THAT WAS BRUTAL!

But, the great part is, I survived it. I did it (mostly). I completed the challenge and feel better because of it. I am not the same person I was on November 1st. I am 11 pounds lighter. I think differently about what I put in my stomach. I think about the worth of that food. Is this 10-second sugar pleasure worth it or can I eat a handful of grapes instead? I’ve noticed that dairy and grains make me feel bloated and foggy. So, I’ll definitely be thinking twice before having them. I haven’t really had too much sugar yet to notice any effects.

The only thing I didn’t add into this WHOLE30 challenge was working out. Did I exercise? Yes, a few times, but definitely not regularly and didn’t push myself at all. I felt I could only focus my energy on one thing and that was my eating. So, now I am hoping to add in the exercise component. Will I continue with WHOLE30 into December? Not really. I’ll think more carefully about my food choices. When I can, I’ll eat fruit, veggies and meat and avoid the others…especially when I am home alone and fixing meals for myself. But, the rest of the time, I want to eat with my family and share the experience of cooking a meal for them that may have pasta or grains or dairy and not worry about it. During this Christmas season, if I want a cookie or a Starbucks White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha….I’ll order one. But then make sure I eat better the rest of the day. It’s all about moderation and making better choices and WHOLE30 has helped me become more aware of that. I also like the idea of 3 bites. If you want something like ice cream, or a dessert…just taking 3 bites is enough to give you the enjoyment of eating something sweet but not overwhelming you with sugar. In fact, I did this just the other day. I shared creme brulee and had 3 bites. It was so hard not to snarf down the whole thing because it was so good, but the 3 bites were enough to give me the enjoyment of having a delicious dessert without stuffing me and making me miserable.

Would I do WHOLE30 again?
Sure….just not during a holiday month! LOL! But, I think anytime we can take a step back and look at our health and make some changes it is a good idea.

What saved me during the WHOLE30?
LaCroix. When I felt like I needed something special to drink besides water or lemon water, I grabbed a LaCroix.

Larabars. Not all of them are WHOLE30 compliant, but a great number of them are. These were great for when I was subbing or traveling. My favorites were the Lemon Bar, Blueberry Muffin, Pumpkin Pie and Cherry Pie. Anything with peanuts or chocolate are not allowed on WHOLE30. My local Hy-Vee sells the Larabars individually so you don’t have to commit to a whole box which is nice.

Hardboiled eggs. I kept them in the fridge at all times. They were an easy/quick snack.

Good Foods Guacamole. I found this at both Hy-Vee and Target. No sugar or other forbidden ingredients and was great to add on top of eggs for flavor or to dip carrots and celery into. There is even one that has pineapple in it that was quite good.

If you choose to start WHOLE30, I highly recommend these two books. IT STARTS WITH FOOD is best for understanding the philosophy of WHOLE30 and what to expect while you are on it. The THE WHOLE 30 gives you a much simpler overview and is full of awesome recipes. THE WHOLE 30 COOKBOOK comes out tomorrow and even more recipes to help you through the 30 days.

My favorite recipes while on WHOLE30 included:

This homemade mayo – Make it exactly like it says.

Whole 30 Chicken Chowder

Chicken Chowder from THE WHOLE 30

Tuna Boats (adapted onto greens rather than on endive) from THE WHOLE 30

I also adapted a PF Chang Lettuce Wrap to be Whole 30 compliant.

To purchase the books I mentioned above, click the photos below:

I would love to hear about your Whole 30 experiences and if you have any great recipes or tips.  I have created a Pinterest Board with any awesome ideas and finds related to Whole 30 that you are welcome to follow, HERE.  Just be aware that just because it “says” it is Whole 30 Compliant, it isn’t necessarily. Read the ingredients list yourself to be sure.

This Whole 30 experience is all my own. I highly recommend you consult your physician before taking on an extreme plan that cuts out certain nutrients from your diet, especially if you are diabetic. If you choose to purchase the books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

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  1. Kate Unger on December 6, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Great job! I started September 1st. I stuck to the plan completely for those two months, and then in November I started allowing 1 cheat meal per week. I was a little worse over Thanksgiving, but I have continued to lose weight and feel great. My husband is eating the dinners though too, so we still got to each together each night.

    I agree it has made me so much more aware of how much crap is in processed foods. I am reading the labels very carefully now, and still cooking most of our food from scratch.

  2. Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies on December 9, 2016 at 2:45 am

    Thanks for sharing this. You are so dedicated to do this over Thanksgiving… that would be a challenge for sure!

  3. Tarissa on December 11, 2016 at 1:07 am

    I just read through your Whole30 experience. I think you're a trooper! (I couldn't have let those doughnuts go, I'll tell ya.)

    I definitely wouldn't mind trying a diet like this sometime, as it would probably make me much more aware of the food I'm eating. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tarissa on December 11, 2016 at 1:13 am

    Also, I wanted to mention that I’m hosting a Christmas read-along called "A Literary Christmas" on my blog this year. If you sign-up, you can link to all your holiday book posts on the linky! 🙂


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