My 5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30

Yesterday, my family and I hung out at the beach. It was the first time this year I felt completely comfortable walking around in a bathing suit! 

It was also the last day of our Whole30 detox – whoo hoo! Dave lost 8lbs, and I lost 5-6lbs. Not earth-shattering, I know. But we noticed many changes in our bodies; I’ll share my 5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30.

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5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30

But before I get into the lessons, I’d like to give you a quick summary of the phases I went through during the past 30 days.

Phases on Whole30

First ten days – Ketosis Flu

As our bodies detox from sugar, dairy, and grains, it goes through a transition period with withdrawal symptoms in what is commonly called – the keto flu.

  • Tired, low energy and irritable.
  • Breath isn’t great.
  • Constipation is a thing.
  • Mouth is dry, and tongue feels tingly (a burnt feeling).
  • There seems to be nothing to eat.
  • Feels weird not having carbs cuz I never feel full.

After working out one time during this phase, I decided to take an exercise hiatus for the month. I’m not exactly sure why, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. In hindsight, my mental state during that time was questionable, but I don’t regret taking the break. I’ve been working out almost every day for the past five years. It was nice to take a break and not feel horrible.

2nd ten days – Adjusting

  • My taste buds become sensitive, and whole food tastes more flavorful.
  • Food choices are boring, but I’m afraid to experiment because I don’t want it to taste too good which may lead to overeating.
  • I realize that so many things I’ve been eating are more processed than I thought.
  • A lightbulb goes off in my head that it’s true – our health and fitness is 90% diet, 10% exercise.

3rd ten days – New Perspective

  • Whole food starts to feel like a way of life, and we are not as obsessed with food.
  • I don’t have sugar cravings.
  • I’m not afraid to try new Whole30 compliant recipes.
  • I still crave wine and decide a glass on weekend days is going to work for me without restarting the diet (yes, I know this is likely the reason I didn’t lose more than 5-6lbs). This and the Trader Joe’s dried mangos I overate each day.
  • With this small adjustment, the diet feels easy the last ten days.

5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30And as for my husband, this is the first time he tried a diet.

  • He found it easy to follow and is open to staying on it (insert eye-roll).  However, he wishes there were more “grab and go” options.
  • He stocked up on canned potatoes, canned green beans, and tuna in oil to keep himself satisfied. If he can happily eat those types of food, no wonder he thought the diet was simple!
  • He has always been an eat to live person. Me on the other hand… I live to eat!

5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30

1. Allows us to analyze our relationship with food

  • Breaks unhealthy habit cycle/food addictions
  • Forces us to become more educated about food. On this diet, we have to read ingredient labels to ensure we’re compliant.
  • Opened my eyes to just how processed food is in today’s society and makes me wonder how this is contributing to disease.
  • Sugar rules our world.  I was surprised to learn that sugar is in almost every food we eat. Even in things that taste nothing like sugar!

2. Helps assess medical issues related to food

  • If you’re wondering if you have food sensitivities, this diet is a good idea.
  • My hub realized sugar gives him heartburn. It went away during Whole30 which allowed him to sleep better.
  • My fibroid symptoms improved – 2 (menstrual) cycles during Whole30 were significantly lighter than usual.
  • I had a tingly tongue and dry mouth the whole month which was unpleasant. This may be because I was eating a lot of foods with oxalic acid which when it comes into contact with your saliva, forms crystals of calcium oxalate (the rough/grit feeling). I need to research this more to see if it’s accurate.
  • Cholesterol – Yesterday, the eye doctor told me I have white rings around my corneas which indicates possible cholesterol issues (for many who have it though, there is no correlation). Today, my son (who had no idea) said, “Mom, why do you have white lines around your eyeballs?”  Heart disease runs in my family. It may just be a coincidence, but this diet may have led to higher cholesterol from the extra red meat and fat I’ve been consuming. Yikes. I will be going to get blood work done this week!

3. There seems to be a massive Whole30 following, but this plan is not the end-all

I am reminded that diets and detoxes are not sustainable for the long term. Even Whole30 recommends this is as a temporary way of living to push the reset button.

  • Too many restrictions on food
    1. Too much meat (not vegetarian-friendly).
    2. No Legumes (no soy or beans including peanuts), limiting.
    3. No aspartame or sugar substitutes, limiting.
    4. Almost impossible to dine out.
  • Ketosis hangover sucks – I hated the side effects.
  • Overeating fruit and nuts is easy.
  • Food preparation is mandatory (not enough grab-and-go foods).
  • Limits social interaction (since almost nothing is Whole30 compliant in social environments).
  • Online forums and rules are overkill. They can be intense. It’s important to try the best you can but don’t be too hard on yourself as it’s hard to be 100% compliant when there is hidden sugar in everything.

Despite it being extremely strict, it’s the first diet I’ve been able to maintain in years (minus the wine cheat). I attribute this to no set eating schedule and generally no limitation on portions (except with nuts, fruit, and potatoes which they say to eat sparingly).

4. Changes taste buds to crave whole food.

  • Food tastes more flavorful because our taste buds are no longer blunted. I can now enjoy the sweetness of a cherry tomato like it’s a piece of fruit!
  • Processed food becomes less appealing.
  • Introduced me to new food and drinks which I will continue to enjoy.
    1. Costco dried apples, Trader Joe’s dried mangos.
    2. Kombucha – probiotics are great for us!
    3. Cashew butter – I’m generally not a nut butter person but, wow!
    4. In and out protein style burgers are delicious!

5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole305. Balance is everything, and Whole30 is not balanced

As a carb-sugar-2 drink a day addict, it was important for me to break my bad habits. I needed a kick in the butt. But if you don’t want or need as drastic of a change, don’t do this detox because it isn’t much fun. 

I pretty much hid for a month so I wouldn’t cheat, and I felt like I was constantly preparing food. Not the end of the world and I needed it. But balanced it is not. Paleo may be a better option for you as it is very similar to Whole30, but not quite as strict.

My husband and I are thinking of moving on to Paleo now since we are primed and ready! After going through the “keto flu,” both of us are hesitant to eat carbs and sugar again. We don’t want to repeat those ten days of withdrawal.

What do you think about these 5 surprising lessons you need to know about Whole30? Before I started the plan, I scoured the internet for information on this topic. I feel my three posts provide a detailed outline of almost everything you need to know. Links to my first two posts on Whole30 follow:

Everything You Need to Know about the Whole30 Diet

Pros and Cons of Whole30 by Husband and Wife

Stay tuned for a post on my favorite Whole30 compliant recipes. I made some good ones! See you soon, and please let me know if you try this diet!

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak