I developed eczema on my hands over the winter. Itchy doesn’t
begin to explain the agony. It was WICKED. I tried every natural
topical concoction, but the rash continued to worsen and rage.
Some friends helped me realize food was likely to blame, and
led me to Whole30.
What’s Whole30? It is a 30-day dietary reset to eliminate and reintroduce foods
to achieve optimal nutrition and health. It’s similar to paleo, with a few additional
exclusions. The protocol consists of high-quality meats, seafood, eggs, vege-
tables, healthy fats, fruits, nuts and seeds. It can seem complicated, but it is this
simple. Eat that, nothing else.
I devoured the first Whole30 book, It Starts With Food, desperate to calm my rash,
and had an epiphany. I found the answer. I had to do this. With newfound deter-
mination, I began my Whole30.
I learned tons about nutrition and health during my experience. There were many
lessons along the way. The following are ten of the biggest surprises:
1. Whole30 is not a fad diet. Whole30 is a lifestyle change. It empowers people
to discover how different foods affect their health. It is not intended to be a plan
to follow for 30 days, and then return to your old eating habits. It focuses on your
health, not your weight.
2. I have a new relationship with food. I learned to eat the best foods to fuel
my body. I was satisfied and satiated after every meal. I kicked my sugar cravings.
I no longer eat for comfort or out of boredom. I thought I was previously making
healthy choices, until I learned the toll some of my choices were taking on
3. My family likes the food! This helps tremendously. They didn’t completely
follow the protocol, but I’m not making separate dishes, and we eat most meals
together. I love seeing my family eat and enjoy my nutritious, delicious meals.
4. I can live without cheese. I truly did not believe this was possible. I ate cheese
every day, sometimes at every meal. I adored all kinds of cheese. I was border-
line-obsessed with parmesan. I haven’t had one slice since I started my Whole30.
I could’ve reintroduced it months ago to gauge my reaction, but I feel better with-
out it, so I don’t want to eat it. It has become that simple.
(Are you still reading? Phew. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned not eating
cheese until the end. Keep going, I bet you’ll agree with the next one).
5. Bacon tastes goooood. I was a vegetarian for many years, and though I’ve
eaten seafood for a while, I hadn’t eaten pork or red meat for over twenty years.
I just didn’t dig on swine. As part of my commitment to the program, I decided
to try different meats. Compliant bacon isn’t easy to find, because of the added
ingredients, but it’s available and it’s tasty. I finally get why Vincent Vega, and
everyone on Facebook, flip out over bacon.
6. There’s a fun paleo lingo. I learned terms like ghee, kombucha, spiralizer,
bone broth and my favorite one of all, zoodles. Zoodles are noodles made
from zucchini. It’s not just fun to say. They are easy to make and taste better
than pasta. I swear.
7. Real food is pretty. I’ve never eaten such beautiful dishes. The vibrant
colors, shapes and textures are inspiring. I constantly feel compelled to
take pictures of my plate. Which leads me to . . .
8. I started an Instagram for my food. I didn’t want to inundate and alienate
my friends with food pictures, so I started a new Instagram account. It’s
been a blast connecting with Whole30 and paleo folks. They share gorgeous
photos, delicious recipes, clever ideas and hilarious hashtags and memes.
9. Bone broth didn’t make me gag. I know. It sounds gross, but homemade
bone broth is integral to healing the gut. It is simple to make, and tastes rich
and flavorful. I make large batches for soups, and freeze it in cubes to use
in various recipes.
10. Coconut is beyond awesome. I tried shredded coconut once as a child,
despised it, and never ate it again. I tried it with an open mind and I am ob-
sessed! My paleo staples include coconut galore: oil, flakes, shredded, milk,
water, aminos, vinegar, flour and butter. This is unfortunate for my coconut-
hating husband, but fantastic for me. I can cook for him with refined coconut
oil, because it doesn’t have a coconut flavor, so at least we found one
I followed the protocol for a month, without cheating, and my results
speak volumes. The Whole30 community calls these non-scale victories.
Mine include: more energy, clearer skin, improved sleep, reduction in
menstrual cramp pain, better moods, improved strength and focused
thinking. I’ve never felt healthier or happier. Remember that horrible,
miserable, awful rash on my hands? It was eradicated, just disappeared
like magic. I am healing my body with food.
Oh, and I should mention, I did have a victory on the scale. I didn’t count a
calorie or a carb, and I ate large meals. I never once felt hungry or deprived . . .
and I dropped twenty pounds. TWENTY POUNDS in 30 DAYS by eating
platefuls of real food! It feels incredible not to carry around those extra
pounds. My body has completely changed.
My Whole30 changed my whole life.