I can’t eat that, I’m on a Whole30!
Well, have you heard of Paleo?
Whole30 is Paleo’s big sister. Mom and Dad left her in charge for a month while they went sailing around the world.
Sounds not fun. Like, at all.
I love starting, doing, and especially completing a Whole30 challenge! It is totally possible (read: highly likely) that I’m just weird, but if you’re competitive, goal-oriented — or just sick of noticing your belly hanging over your waistband when you’re driving, you need to do a Whole30!
Whole30 is a total detox from the Standard American Diet (SAD) for 30 days.
The emphasis in Whole30 is on changing habits; since most of us eat waaaaaay too much sugar, Whole30 cuts sugar out completely: you can’t use natural sweeteners like honey and molasses, or xylitol. You can’t even make something that your brain registers as a sweet treat!
Almond butter, coconut, ghee, cinnamon, and apples as individual ingredients: Good.
But apples sauteed in ghee and cinnamon topped with melted almond butter and broiled coconut — a completely healthy version of apple crisp? Verboten.
When people ask me more about Whole30 (because all I talk about is Whole30 when I’m doing a Whole30 challenge and they figure letting me get it all out is the fastest way to shut me up) I always say that it’s easier to list what you can have on a Whole30 than what you can’t.
Can eat on a Whole30:
- Healthy fats
- A reasonable amount of fruit and nuts
Can’t eat on a Whole30:
- Anything else.
Our family eats really healthy food about 90% of the time. (The last 10% is a junk food free-for-all on Disneyland vacations, church potlucks, and movie nights.) So why would I bother doing a Whole30?
These are the top 4 reasons I love Whole30!
You’ll notice that not one reason has to do with weight loss — but I do lose about 10lbs every time I do a Whole30!
Bottom line: Diet cures.
- My mom suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome almost her whole life — suffered as in regularly got so sick she passed out. Suffered as in what I will have done after she reads this and gets a hold of me. About 10 years ago she found a couple of mentions buried deep on health message boards about the Master Cleanse (on that Candida-eliminating detox you “eat” nothing but water spiked with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for two weeks.) She completely cured her IBS with the Master Cleanse!
- When I was in high school I started getting Urinary Tract Infections a few times a year. After I had my second child, my UTI frequency increased drastically — I got an infection about once a month! My doctor got sick of seeing me so she prescribed constant low level antibiotics. We all know what that means: more virulent UTIs! I did a Fat Flush. It’s a 6 week detox program with food restrictions similar to those of Paleo and Whole30. I have not had a UTI once in eight years — not even when my diet has gone off track for months!
- Check out the Whole30 testimonials on just about every health issue you can think of!
2. Stop Sneaky Sugar
Sugar has a way of sneaking into your “healthy” diet:
- Portion control problems
My daughter Jameson loves ketchup. She eats two egg burritos almost every morning, but we should call them what they really are: ketchup holders. There is a full teaspoon of sugar (4g) in every tablespoon of ketchup! She uses ½ cup of ketchup on 2 egg burritos, so every morning she eats 24 grams of sugar! That’s the total daily sugar limit the American Heart Association recommends for grown women! She’s eight.
- Sweet extras
I make banana chocolate chip muffins the kids love. They are gluten free and sugar free — but we always forget to count the chocolate chips, right? I use ½ cup of mini chocolate chips per batch of 12 muffins. That’s 5 extra grams of sugar in each muffin because I toss a handful of chocolate chips into the muffin batter! There are already 5 grams of natural sugar (from bananas and molasses) in each muffin. Just by adding the chocolate chips, I double the sugar and those muffins straddle the line between muffin and cupcake!
- Processed food
Friday night is Hamburger Night in our house. I usually make my own buns, but when I’m in a hurry I grab a bag of buns from the grocery store. Most brand name hamburger buns have 3-6 grams of sugar each! (Even worse, it’s usually High Fructose Corn Syrup.) And then ketchup; another half cup for Jameson. Those who prefer a reasonable amount of ketchup still use about a tablespoon. Store bun + 1T ketchup = 10 grams of sugar — that’s 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar in a dish nobody thinks of as sweet!
Whole30 makes me a label checking fiend! We’ve switched brands of condiments like olives, pickles, pepperoncini, and hot sauce because of the scary ingredients I discovered on name brand condiments labels.
Did you know: Sprouts and Whole Foods carry condiments with normal ingredients like vinegar and spices instead of Yellow #5 and sodium benzoate — for the same price as name brands!
3. Eat Real Food!
I plan to not be busy; I love that I can do whatever I want to 7 nights a week. I don’t know how you moms who have kids in multiple activities and sports and have to deal with homework and other commitments do it, because as not-busy as I am, sometimes I get too busy to cook everything from scratch. (Read about the clean eating time suck!)
When I get busy I lean heavily on convenience foods that seem “healthy enough”: sliced sourdough bread, “natural” rotisserie chicken, marinara in a jar. If I take the time to make each item from scratch, I use a total of 6 ingredients: flour, salt, chicken, tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
There are more than three times the number of ingredients in the packaged versions of those items!
Whole30 rules are clear and you aren’t following a Whole30 if you eat processed food. If nothing else, the “No MSG” rule will keep you from buying any processed food because MSG is in almost every packaged food, usually under a sneaky name like “natural flavor”. That means I cook every meal at home from scratch for 30 straight days, folks! That may sound impossible (or awful!), but once you’ve eaten real food for an entire month, you won’t crave the crap. Really.
4. I Save Money on a Whole30 Challenge!
- No restaurants or fast food! I have to eat real food on Whole30 so restaurant food is out!
We all know that the easiest way to save money on your grocery bill is to eat at home! Whole30 makes eating at home necessary instead of just a good idea.
- No Fluff
One of the biggest myths about healthy food is that it costs more than crap food. When I’m doing a Whole30 challenge, junk food does not have a place in my grocery cart. Neither does milk, cheese, yogurt, bread, pasta, or boxed snacks and treats.
On Whole30, I buy fewer items because there are only 4 food categories to choose from: Meat, Fruit & Veggies, Healthy Fats, and Nuts! I save a lot of money at the grocery store when I don’t buy “fluff” — you know no matter how clean you eat, you always bring home a few cheats and “healthy” processed foods!
- Menu Planning
I have to have a menu plan when I do a Whole30 or I’ll end up eating eggs of some sort 3 meals a day! Meal plans save money: no extra trips to the grocery store, no impulse buys, no takeout!
I can buy grass fed beef and organic eggs, chicken, and produce without blowing my grocery budget! The money I save by not buying dairy, bread, and treats gives me the budget wiggle room to upgrade to organic!
There you have it: the 4 reasons I love doing a Whole30 challenge!
Stop Sneaky Sugar
Eat Real Food
Join the Whole30 Challenge or follow me on Instagram! #AllDayMomWhole30
What would you miss the most on a Whole30 challenge?