I never thought I could do the Whole30. In fact, I’m shuddering just thinking about it. Nevertheless, completing one of the most difficult elimination diets taught me so many non-transient things about myself, health, and my relationship with Jesus.
The Whole30 Diet is most closely related to Paleo — The Caveman Diet. Participants agree to a lot of things when they take this challenge on, including abstaining from grains, dairy, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and legumes (beans, peanuts, random things like hummus). The diet also relies a lot on mental stability and encourages you to eat until you’re full (mostly with vegetables) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while not overindulging on fruits.
I heard amazing success stories of huge weight loss, high energy, better sleep, great skin, and a renewed zest for life, and I knew I wanted to try it. My only concern going in was the sustainability — would I be able to NOT put dairy in my coffee for over four weeks? Inconceivable!
I started Day 1 with a pocketful of sunshine and compliant recipes. I even ordered some Whole30 approved dressings and condiments because I felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. But that first week was one of the worst of my life. The recipes were complicated, using cauliflower rice and coconut aminos, two stapes for regular Whole30-goers, but new for me. By the end of the week, I felt tired, defeated, and in need of a donut. Going out with friends or family just discouraged me as I read menus in search of dressings without soy or sugar and had to ask how chicken or burgers (no bun) were prepared. Even table salt has sugar in it, which just shows how little I could eat at a restaurant. Chipotle does have one compliant meat (not cooked using soybean oil), praise the GOOD LORD, but I really had to cook for myself at home for every meal because I could control the ingredients.
I soon realized that executing complicated and “fun” recipes didn’t make my Whole30 experience better or more accurate than someone else’s. I started looking for compliant foods I would enjoy eating. I made homemade, non-dairy mayonnaise. I added more meat into my diet and incorporated a fat on my plate like olives or avocados — two of my favorite foods. I started finding excitement in whole foods that I previously would have passed over for something much less nourishing for my body.
A worship song frequently found its way into my head during this process because the word “clean” came up so often — “Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts. Let us not lift our souls to another.”
Eating Whole30 “clean,” is not for everyone, but the feeling can’t be described. My body just felt like it was working how it was supposed to — I didn’t ever have that over-full or bloating feeling you get after eating Mexican food. I never felt my stomach rumble with digestive problems or even really growl with hunger because everything inside was just working correctly. That’s how I feel about the song I mentioned before. Having hands free of unconfessed sin and guilt and a pure heart allow me to serve the Lord without the rumbling of distractions or pains caused by my own disobedience.
And realizing my hands aren’t clean is only possible when they ARE clean, and I can see the difference.
Not eating legumes was the hardest part mentally for me, because I didn’t understand WHY — beans aren’t necessarily bad for me, so why cant I have them? I found that my body worked better without them. Spiritually, what could you eliminate that isn’t bad for you, but also isn’t doing any good? Maybe it’s a TV show, book, or person. For me, it was 30 minutes of Netflix in bed instead of quiet time with the Lord.
Completing the Whole30 required so much discipline, from meal prepping ahead of time to letting my friends know I was on the diet so that we could come up with plans that didn’t involve food. Spiritually, I discovered the same thing. My relationship with Jesus has to be a choice — a choice each day to not put sugar in my coffee. It has to be evident to my friends so that our plans are glorifying to Him and within the lifestyle I want to live, according to the disciplines and faith I believe in. Similarly, the journey is significantly easier and more rewarding with people pushing you, encouraging you, and cheering you on.
It took me 30 days to learn I can do ANYTHING. How many days will it take you?
PS- I lost 11 pounds and would highly recommend this diet to anyone looking for a challenge that will change your perspective on food and health.