In January, I decided to finally make some real changes to my eating habits, and I accepted the challenge to complete a Whole100. I would follow the rules of the Whole30 program for 100 days. While it was extremely challenging at times, I’m glad I did it. I learned about my relationship with food, became a better role model for my children and tamed my sugar dragon.
What have I committed to, and why on earth would I think this is a good idea? All my life I’ve had a relationship with food that isn’t exactly healthy. I completed a Whole30 last year, and I honestly loved it. But the truth is that when I was done with my Whole30, my bad food habits crept back into my life. My goal with a Whole100 was that after 100 days, my newfound food choices would become more permanent.
So what did I eat? I ate tons of fresh veggies, lean meats, fruits and nuts. What I didn’t eat: dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, soy, processed food, alcohol, or artificial sweeteners. Also, no wine. Yes, you read that correctly. No. Wine.
What are the benefits of eating this way? The biggest benefit is that I feel so much better. I sleep like a rock, my mood is better, and overall, I feel more in control over what I’m consuming. After getting over the initial sugar withdrawal, I have an increase in energy that could never be duplicated by an extra cup of coffee. I also lost 21 lbs.
But there were other non-scale victories that I never expected. My daughter, a notoriously picky eater, decided to try eggs. I guess after watching me eat them for 67 consecutive mornings she figured they couldn’t be that bad. Turns out she loves eggs, and chicken apple sausage, and a few other foods she never would have tried if she hadn’t seen me modeling good food choices. Reading labels has also become second nature. Even if I’m not buying something for myself, I check the labels. You would be shocked at how many items include added sugar. Dextrose, sucrose, fructose, cane sugar, corn syrup, and the list goes on; it’s in almost EVERYTHING.
What was the hardest part? What I learned from this experience is that I’m a stress eater. During my 100 days, my husband went through two different surgeries. Both times, while I was trying to help him recover and care for my kids, I muttered the phrase, “If I wasn’t doing Whole100, I’d eat an entire pie right now,” more than once. It’s true — for me, stress equals poor food choices.
I also struggled with having to plan ahead. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a type-A planner to begin with, but completing a Whole100 requires a level of structure that even I found overwhelming. I created a countdown chart to help me keep track of what day I was on and to motivate me with a visual every morning. I was relentless when it came to planning meals and making sure our house was stocked with an ample selection of Whole30 foods. It took a level of commitment I wasn’t expecting, but in the end, I’m glad I stepped up to the challenge.
5 Tips for a Successful Whole100
Prep your meals like it’s the most important job you have. Food prep was the only reason I survived. Before beginning my Whole100 journey, I made meatballs, soup, egg cups and chili and put lunch-sized servings in the freezer. On the nights when I was stressed, it was so easy to pull something out and heat it up.
Find a better way to reward yourself. Repeat after me: “You are not a dog, you do not need to reward yourself with a food treat.” This was a hard one for me because of my relationship with food. I decided to try rewarding myself with new bath products from LUSH (because evidently I’m still a 13-year-old girl at heart). I dare say the substitution has worked. I now look forward to a new body bar the way I used to look forward to a candy bar.
Don’t allow yourself to get bored. Pinterest will become your new best friend while completing a Whole30 or Whole100. Try to find a new recipe each week to try. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something different. Try a new fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before; vary the type of meat you choose for dinner. Boredom can be the death of a Whole30, so don’t let it get the better of you.
Don’t go it alone. The other reason I was able to survive this is because of the support of my husband and best friend. My husband ate all Whole30 meals with me and never complained once. Although my best friend lives a few states away, we texted every single morning to check in and report what day it was. This daily encouragement was exactly what I needed to start the day off right.
Believe that you CAN do it. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I could do it, I would have answered NOOOOOOOOO! No way! No how! No, no, no! But the truth is that you can. And not only am I going to tell you that you can do it, but you can do it without cheating, cutting corners, or even “taking a day off.”