Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Guest Post: My Whole 30 Experience

I am beyond excited to share this guest post from someone so incredibly special to me: my mom. Recently, she finished her very first Whole 30. As someone who has been supportive of me in all I do, I am beyond proud of her. I asked her if she could share her experience with you all. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, my mom. P.S. please feel free to ignore the amount of non-food related pictures of my mom and me, I just love her to pieces. :-)

I was never planning on doing Whole 30, ever!  I do not like to deprive myself and I was quite happy eating whatever I wanted, thank you very much.  Of course I was overweight and struggling with an autoimmune disease, but still was not motivated enough to try and change my eating habits.  I bit of history.  In my first year of marriage I put on 50 lbs without hardly even noticing it!  I struggled to try and loose weight over the next five years, but nothing I tried ever worked. Then I had my first daughter and put on a few more pounds.  Five years later, I had my second daughter, and even though I hardly put on any weight during that pregnancy, I put on more weight after she was born.  For the next 20 years while raising my girls, I just could NOT loose weight no matter what I tried!  So by the time I was diagnosed with RA in my early 50’s I just thought - I am in pain daily, I am going to eat whatever I want!  And I did.

When my oldest daughter was diagnosed with PCOS in her 20’s I realized that I had all of the same symptoms. By this time, I had had a complete hysterectomy and was trying to deal with all the fun things that go along with that!  Hello hot flashes, weight gain and chocolate cravings!!

So where does Whole 30 come in?  My oldest daughter had started cooking AIP and I thought she was crazy!!  Giving up all those foods, cooking everything from scratch, so.much.work. I encouraged her from a distance, but that was NOT for me!  Then my youngest daughter discovered that she had a gluten intolerance, and when she cut it out of her diet along with sugar, she saw a huge improvement.  So with both of girls seeing so much success by trying an elimination type diet, I started wondering if I could be helped by doing the same thing.

Well, that is when the research started! My family knows that I am the queen of research, and until I have checked out EVERY possible option, I cannot start anything.  I knew I did not want to do AIP, and that is when I found whole30.com  At first it looked daunting, but then I
found the wonderful website of Mellisa Joulwan and her cook books Well Fed and Well Fed 2. Between these two websites I gathered a wealth of information and all my questions were answered. On Mellisa’s site she has a very helpful shopping list and prep list that I followed, and it  REALLY took the guess work of how to get started.

So, now that I was armed with all my information and research, I had to convince my husband, that for the next 30 days we would not be eating any sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, soy and alcohol!  I decided to  used two strategies. 1. I eased into it, and  2. I didn’t tell him!  The week before we started Whole 30, was vacation time for us.  We had planned a week long “Staycation” and this is when I tested some of Mellisa’s great recipes.  I just presented them to my husband as “new” recipes I was trying.  He loved them.  We both loved them.  That was the moment I thought to myself, “I think I can do this, at least for 30 days”

One of the things that the Whole 30 recommends is that you take a week or so to prepare yourself and your kitchen for the start of your 30 day reset.  This was the best advice.  I stocked up on meat and veggies and eggs.  Oh, the amount of eggs we went through was truly astounding!  The other thing I did, was buy a nice insulated lunch box for my husband.  After all he was going to be carrying a full lunch with him everyday to work, and if I went to the all trouble to prepare it for him, I wanted it to stay cool and edible! This worked like and charm, and every evening I would package up leftovers into containers and stack them in the fridge for the night and then throw them into his lunch box in the morning along with some cut up veggies and some fruit.  I also got up and made him a simple breakfast of eggs, sausage and fruit EVERY MORNING, knowing that if I did not do this, he would eat nothing at all as he has done for years!  So, yes there was a lot of cooking and prep to do, but I did batch cooking on Sundays and that made things SO much easier.    It’s one thing to have  all the ingredients for a recipe in your fridge and cupboards, but it is a WHOLE ‘nother thing when the actual meal is cooked and sitting there in your fridge ready to just pull out and heat up!

The first week was a little rough, especially for my husband because he was missing his coffee and tea, badly.  Coffee and tea is allowed on Whole 30, but with no sugar or creamer.  According to my husband, tea or coffee without sugar or cream is just NOT worth having, so we just gave them up altogether.  I drank some herbal mint teas and I made mint iced tea with mint from my garden.  I would say that by keeping our menus varied and interesting, with a lot of new recipes, we did well through the first two weeks.  We felt more energetic, and I definitely felt much lighter.  That is the wonderful thing.  I was eating a lot of food at every meal, but I never ever felt stuffed.  By week three and four we were in a rhythm and were not even craving sweet things anymore.  I had successfully eaten out with a friend twice and stayed on track.  It felt really good.

When the end of the 30 days rolled around, we weighed ourselves.  Astonishingly, we had both lost about 15 pounds!  That was the most weight I had EVER lost on any program, any time!  We were thrilled, and without even saying anything out loud, we just decided to keep on eating this way!  I have introduced a few things back into our diets. I have added back a little honey or maple syrup into my homemade salad dressing and we are eating a little bacon now and then.   We are still grain free, but I am starting to experiment with some alternative flours for baking.  We love the way we feel and probably will continue to eat this way for now.  We are both hoping to loose some more weight, and I think the way we will achieve that, is to cut back a little on the fruit and up the veggies!

For me this has really been a revelation.  Never in a million years did I think I could stick to this for 30 days!  Also, I never believed that my cravings for sweets and chocolates and bread could just disappear, but they did. Some other “non scale victories” as they are called in the Whole30 program, better sleep and  more energy.  I even took a short hike with my youngest daughter in the woods!  What!  My husband and I now try and go on more walks around the neighborhood. He even dug his bicycle out of the shed and goes for short rides on the weekends.  My advice if you are thinking about doing Whole 30, is,  do your research, find support (there are a LOT of Blogs and Instagram) have a plan and then, JUST DO IT!  It’s only 30 days!


  1. Ellen, this is AWESOME! Keep it up and I know you (and hubby) will continue to feel better and better! I'm so proud of you! Love you girl! Teresa

  2. Ellen, love your story. I would like to duplicate your journey with your husband. We both have some health issues we hope will improve during the 30 days. I have tried so many diets. I am anxious about starting.

  3. Ellen, love your story. I would like to duplicate your journey with your husband. We both have some health issues we hope will improve during the 30 days. I have tried so many diets. I am anxious about starting.

  4. Just start--just say you are going to do it. I am on day 13 and feel incredibly proud of myself. I make compliant meals every night for my husband and I (I am 100% compliant) and just make a side of rice or noodles for him-as he really wants more food. Doesn't bother me. The hardest part is that we go out a lot and club soda and lime has become my new friend. (I realize now how much wine I was drinking and why I felt tired all the time).Side note-I think my arthritis in my hands feels better and believe it or not-my eye bags definitely look better. I am happy that I did find a compliant almond milk to use in my coffee--I just could not give that up!! Good luck, put your head down and as they say--just do it. You will feel so much better.

  5. PS=I was directing my comments to the ladies above. I wish I could get my husband on board like Ellen. You go girl!!

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