Early in December, Kayla asked if I wanted to join her in a Whole30 challenge starting in January. I read It Starts with Food, the book detailing the what and why behind the plan, earlier in the year. I knew I’d need a reset to my diet and eating habits, particularly after the holidays. So, I agreed. Starting on Monday, January 9, I’m doing the vegetarian Whole30 challenge.
What is the Whole30?
Whole30 is program focused on eating real foods a reset that temporarily eliminates certain food groups from the diet. By following the plan for thirty days, it allows the body a chance to heal from commonly eaten food groups that can trigger health issues like inflammation. These food groups include sugar in any form (except whole fruit), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, or sulfates. Participants can’t recreate junk food and baked goods using Whole30 compliant ingredients.
How does the vegetarian Whole30 differ?
Because a strict adherence to Whole30 would be difficult to maintain on a vegetarian or vegan diet and still get enough protein, there is a vegetarian Whole30 variation. Foods that are allowed on the vegetarian Whole30 include yogurt, kefir, tempeh, edamame, and extra-firm tofu. There is a separate shopping list for the vegetarian version of the program.
I have some serious frustrations with Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the minds behind the Whole30, and their thoughts on vegetarians. They are not shy about encouraging vegetarians and vegans to consider eating meat for the duration of the program. Thanks, but no thanks. If I wanted to eat animal flesh, I would do that. For me, it’s not simply the issue of humanely sourced meat versus factory farming, but the simple fact that I don’t think an animal should die so I can have my dinner. I found their “just try it for thirty days” bordering on disrespectful.
That said, I’m still doing the vegetarian variety of the program, even if including plant-based protein means I’m not “really” doing Whole30.
Why am I doing the Whole30?
Last year was not my shining moment in my health and wellness journey. It’s no secret that I struggled through 2016 in terms of fitness, but that is equally as true for my diet. As the year went on, I increasingly reached for unhealthy options such as pizza and ice cream. Days went by where I didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable. By the holiday season, these habits reached dangerous levels. I found myself constantly surrounded by a plethora of cookies and treats. I’d eat them mindlessly.
I knew that after the holidays, I’d need a reset to my diet and my eating habits. I am ready to reset my habits so that I reach for an apple instead of an apple fritter, and a cup of black coffee instead of a pumpkin spice latte.
I like Whole30 because it focuses on whole foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. I do have issues with completely eliminating entire food groups without a medical reason, such as gluten Celiac’s. But, on Whole30, foods are slowly reintroduced at the end of the month. It’s an emphasis on real foods, not expensive supplements or shakes. Everything necessary for success is in the aisles at my local grocery store.
What are my goals?
I’ll be completely honest, in that my goal is not 100% compliance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still aiming for about 98%, but if I have some quinoa, the world won’t end. (Technically, you’re supposed to restart at day one after any slip-up.) I hope to finish the thirty days feeling like I’ve reestablished better eating habits, particularly in regards to my raging sweet tooth. I hope to be more intentional about my decisions regarding food and to eat mindfully. I hope to feel less bloated and have more energy.
Won’t you join the fun?
Kayla and I are on this Whole30 journey from January 9 through February 7. We’ve got a great accountability group going on Facebook and we’re using the hashtag #HLBWhole30 on social media. Some people in the group are doing their Whole30 over slightly different dates; some started on January 1. You do you. I don’t know that this is something I would want to do alone. I fully believe that accountability breeds success in any arena in life.