Whole30 Experiment: It Starts Now


September 17, 2012 by Darlene McC

Western culture has made “food” really confusing.  The grocery store, the place where we’re supposed to go and buy food, is full of things that can barely be described as edible (in my opinion, are not actually food).  Few of us cook any more, and those of us that do assume that using ‘low-fat’- ‘no-fat’-“whole grain”-gluten free-probiotic-organic-whatever ingredients auto-magically makes what we eat healthy; right!?  Because isn’t that what Dr Oz said a few weeks ago?  That I can just cut calories and I’ll be okay?  But then someone else… maybe your friend from work?… they said that fat doesn’t make you fat… but how would they know?

I’m with you! Many people expect to ask their trainers about their nutrition and get a straight forward and well-informed response.  It’s frustrating for us because that’s not really what we’re qualified to do; but nutrition is essential for meeting fitness goals so how can we not?  For about a year I’ve felt like my nutrition (I hate the word ‘diet’ for anything other than short-term fasting) has been lacking.  Through the stress of a career change and a major life overhaul I’ve been sugar bingeing and cheese loving to survive.  I’ve felt inflammation and a general icky feeling creep back in.  So last week as I was browsing the local book store I stumbled on It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  I was intrigued; I’ve toyed with the idea of a whole food based diet, but didn’t have a framework for it that I liked.  I bought it on a whim, not really knowing what I’m getting myself into.

The first thing I really liked about it was the scientific research and how carefully it’s referenced.  I have felt in the past that I’m reading some lay-persons manifesto; but this feels legit.  They also have a general formula that I whole-heartedly agree with:

Scientific Research + Clinical Experience + Self-Experimentation

They’ll tell you what science and their own research has said; you use that information to reset your own body; then, when you’re better, you use that information to test things out for yourself.

Science is my home girl.  They had me at research.

The entire book and the plan included are based around one core concept that tough-loves its way in: Food either makes you more healthy or less healthy.  Eat the former, not the later.  Sounds easy, right?  We’ll see…

The Plan

So what’s a Whole30?  30 straight days of food that adhere to 4 simple, but powerful, rules.  The Hartwig’s call them the Good Food Standards:

The food that we eat should:

1. Promote a healthy psychological response.
2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.
3. Support a healthy gut.
4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

It Starts With Food

They call it a Whole30, but explain later on that your body may need more time to heal than 30 days.  It could be a Whole45 or maybe even a Whole60.  And this isn’t some mystic “colon cleanse” where you’re sipping juice; this is a scientifically supported nutritional system.  Every recommendation they’re making is based on a chapter in the book where they detail the psychological, hormonal, digestive, or immune response that you’re looking to avoid if that’s a food you are sensitive to.  This is what I said I wanted…

…Be Careful What You Wish For

I am unquestionably excited to have found this for a book I bought on a whim.  Screw points, screw counting calories, I don’t care about weight loss.  I want to fix my hormonal and digestive balances so I can sleep better, wake up refreshed, “move” regularly (if you get my drift), and not get sick as much.  I also want to learn how to eat well so when I have kids in a few years they’re raised in an environment that knows what good food really is.

So here’s the starting point:

Yes: Eat foods that make me more healthy: meat, seafood, and eggs, lots of veggies, a bit of fruit, and healthy fats.

No: Added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, or white potatoes (when I told my co-workers this one none of them could believe beans was on the list!  A room full of trainers aghast at the idea of omitting black beans for a month).

No: Attempts to recreate foods I’m psychologically dependent on with “approved” ingredients.

No: Weighing myself or measuring for this month.

That’s it.  The simple core. Every meal starts with an old favorite phrase of mine: “What’s my vegetable, what’s my protein?”.  From there I make sure I have a healthy fat source and I only eat 3 meals a day (4 if I’m working out).

Day 1

Today is day 1, and I’m planning to share periodic updates.  I wonder if I’m missing foods specifically because I can not have them; but I’ve tried to stock up on things I like to be ready for this week.  It should be interesting to see when the sugar craving hits, because it’s been bad for months and I can’t imagine it’s going to disappear overnight.  I’m also adding this to The List for 50 points.  It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be good for me too.  There’s a stew in the crock-pot for later, and if nothing else this experiment is going to encourage me to cook a lot more.  That can’t be a bad thing, right?


9 thoughts on “Whole30 Experiment: It Starts Now

  1. xdhaas says:

    That’s very very similar to paleo/primal (if not the same, but its been awhile since I’ve been on that web site). I try to stick to that type of ‘diet’ because when I don’t I’ve felt a difference in my energy and inflammation levels. Let us know how it goes.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      You remember correctly. They’re pretty honest in the intro that the foundations are paleo. I know plenty of people who have gone paleo for short times but this is my first time doing it myself.

  2. Jessica says:

    Stick with it. Seriously. I did it back in January-ish and it was fantastic! Well, fantastic after the first week. The first week was tough with headaches, being tired, and overcoming the cravings. Two saving graces during my Whole30 were (1) my gym since a group of us were doing it together and (2) http://www.thefoodee.com/ they have an entire section dedicated to Whole30 approved recipes. Good luck!!

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      So nice to hear from someone who actually did it! I don’t know anyone else who has done it so I don’t really know what to expect (though I know plenty of people who have been paleo for various time spans). Really appreciate the support

  3. ctminnesota says:

    You are so brave indeed! I am intrigued & will be following your experience. The no dairy seems the toughest bit to follow for me. I’ve been slowly but surely modifying my diet towards this, but have not yet ponied up to a full 30 day commitment.

    Show us how it’s done, sister! I suspect you will be amazed at just how wonderful you can & will feel.

  4. […] started on Monday with this post about Whole30 and the challenge I’m issuing to myself.  30 days. Only Good Food. No cheats at all. No […]

  5. […] been 5 weeks since I took on the personal challenge of completing a Whole30: 30 uninterrupted days of nothing but Good Food as defined and described by Dallas & Melissa […]

  6. […] By the end of the summer my stress was lower but my control was down.  I’d cut out the obvious things like crazy amounts of alcohol & any processed wheat products; but I still felt like crap all the time.  Cue finding It Starts With Food and my first Whole30. […]

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