I’ve never had a good relationship with food.
I am almost 32 years old and I still haven’t figured out how to be at peace with who I am and what I eat and how food makes me feel about myself, which is mostly bad.
This past fall though, I did experience somewhat of a breakthrough and a sense of calm and acceptance over what I was putting into my body – this was when I was doing my first Whole30.
Following the Whole30 isn’t easy – no dairy, legumes, sugar, alcohol or grains (this part was easy for me since I have a wheat allergy) – but feeling a constant sense of guilt around bad food choices or the physical discomfort of eating too much isn’t easy either.
On Wednesday June 1st I am going to start my second Whole30 to reset my body and my mind for a healthy summer, and beyond. I know it won’t be without challenges, but I feel more prepared this time and am ready for what’s to come.
The first time I did the Whole30, I started just before Halloween. I remember that night at my sister’s house, surrounded by tiny packages of chocolate, candy and chips. On any regular Halloween I probably would have eaten 10, maybe 15 of these packages, easily racking up hundreds of (empty) calories of mindless eating, telling myself that those calories didn’t count because it was a “special occasion.” But on that night I stuck to the Whole30 and I woke up the next morning feeling good about my decision. A Halloween without chocolate was OK.
Over the next month I made it through 3 birthday parties without any cake. I also made it through every afternoon without my 3pm chocolate fix. Weaning myself off sugar was tough, and the sugar hangover they talk about is real, but it’s amazing how your body naturally starts craving healthier foods when that’s the only option you have.
From delicious soups and chilis, fresh salads, amazing meat dishes and my ultimate, I-could-eat-this-everyday favourite, Sauteed Cabbage with Red Onions and Apples, I ate very well on the Whole30. I spent more time than usual grocery shopping, meal-prepping and cooking, and I hardly ate out, but it was worth it because I learned so many new recipes and discovered new foods.
As someone who spends a disproportionate amount of my day on social media (I’m working on that too…), my journey was certainly made easier by the incredible Whole30 online community. I frequently consulted the Whole30 Recipes Instagram account as well as the #Whole30 and #Whole30recipes hashtags for inspiration. I regularly shared my #Whole30problems on Twitter, receiving immediate feedback and love from others. I also enjoyed following Whole30 co-founder Melissa Hartwig for her tough-love attitude and delicious food pictures.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to start another Whole30 on June 1st, but I know that I am ready. Since I finished my last one, I have been struggling a lot (too much) with my eating habits and it’s affecting all other areas of my life, both physically and mentally. I’m turning 32 in a month and I can’t bear to spend another 365 days with all the added guilt, stress and physical discomfort that comes from bad eating habits, especially when I know that I can do better.
This isn’t a diet, it’s a framework for a new way of living and a better relationship with food. While the Whole30 isn’t meant to be followed forever (I will drink wine again!), its principles and philosophy form the basis for a life-long shift in the way we think about food and what we put into our bodies.