Why I Quit Whole30
Honesty hour: I didn’t initially want to write this post. I hate admitting when I’ve quit something, and I love to see things through to the end (i.e. hate-reading a book because I refuse to quit). However, I’ve always promised to retain my sense of candor on this platform.
This year, Justin and I decided to do Whole30 again after seeing success with it in January 2018.
Last year, we embarked on the strict diet (in summary, no legumes, dairy, grains or added sugar for 30 days) for a few reasons: 1) I was experiencing worsening anxiety, skin breakouts and low energy and I wanted to see if detoxing my gut would help any of these issues, and 2) we both wanted to reset some poor eating habits. While the diet had its ups and downs (i.e. intense sweet tooth cravings for me), I ultimately felt great. My acne calmed down, I felt really lean and I learned new recipes and some good food habits to take with me after the 30 days.
However, with that all said, it honestly took me a few months to recover from Whole30. February through June of 2018 were marked with weird feelings around eating grains and dairy, including guilt, shame and self-hatred like I was “cheating,” despite knowing that I was not at all and was just simply fueling my body. Around July, these feelings finally dissipated, and I returned to my typical intuitive 80/20 diet that I had previously loosely subscribed to. 80% of the time I watched what I ate - and it was pretty veggie-forward with minimal meat and minimal added crap. The remaining 20% of the time, I stopped worrying about it because honestly fully enjoying life to me meant listening to my cravings and indulging in pizza, chocolate, beer, tacos, pastries…all the good stuff. The last third of the year, I practiced intuitive eating and really listening to my body.
When Justin suggested doing Whole30 again this year, I forgot about the initial aftermath that took place the first half of last year and thought about how it wasn’t too different from what I was eating already, so why not. So, I agreed without a real reason.
We began January 1 and planned to go through January 30. I made it until January 10 - and consciously broke Whole30 with a couple slices of pizza and a hard kombucha in celebration of a new job. I have some shame around quitting something, but it was absolutely the right decision for me.**
1. I had no real reason for Whole30 this year.
One of the biggest lessons I learned last year was to always ask two questions of yourself: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? This year, I had no real “why” behind my Whole30, and I don’t like to pursue things without a strong sense of intentionality and purpose.
2. I was starting to develop disordered eating habits, including a lot of shame around eating.
All of the feelings I had post-Whole30 last year resurfaced - with a vengeance. I hated myself for craving quinoa, of all things…let alone dessert. I started to use exercise as a currency for food. I was sick of eating jerky snacks or almond butter when I was hungry…so I just stopped eating even after hard workouts. I was in a terrible mood and I was mentally spiraling when I ate seconds, had cravings or felt hungry when I felt like I was eating plenty. The limitations and restrictions on Whole30 were dangerous for my mental health. Ten days in, I was becoming obsessed after working so hard last year to break weird eating habits and body dysmorphic and self-hating thoughts.
3. I could not ethically (or healthily) continue to eat that much meat.
I had been actively moving towards a more plant-based diet for the last few months for ethical, environmental and health reasons (though, I don’t think I could be vegetarian because of my allergy to legumes, but that’s another conversation for another day!). With Whole30, your main source of protein quickly becomes meat and eggs. Even after just one week, I dreaded purchasing copious amounts of meat to fuel the week, but I knew without it, I’d be pretty hungry. The entire ten days I was racked with guilt…and nerves that I was elevating my cholesterol, since I’m already predisposed to high levels.
4. Cruciferous veggies + me = not good.
Over the last year, I’ve discovered that cruciferous veggies and I don’t mix well. This type of veggie makes me pretty bloated and gives me really bad stomachaches and constipation. I’ve been cutting my consumption of them a bit since they don’t settle well in my body, but Whole30 reintroduced them on a large scale again (so much cauliflower rice and brussel sprouts!). I know bloat is part of the Whole30 timeline, but it was reaching an incredibly painful point for me. It didn’t feel healthy for me to sustain that.
5. My gut said “no.”
Ultimately, my gut and my heart said “no.” I understood that it may be the right move for some people. Everyone’s mind and body are different. But, I knew deep-down at my core that it wasn’t healthy for me, and it’s hard to ignore that feeling.
I can’t explain how much better I feel after breaking Whole30 on Day 10. Admittedly, the first two or three days, I felt guilty snacking on crackers or eating oatmeal, but the feelings have since disappeared. Now, I’m returning back to intuitive eating - still bringing along some of the Whole30 habits with me (adding in fats, eating veggies with breakfast, etc.), but without any hard limitations or restrictions. Mostly, I’m doing what works for me without comparison to others and without a strict diet name.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever do Whole30 again, but I am thankful it’s showed me that quitting isn’t always a bad thing and that it’s pushed me in a healthier direction…and showed me some pretty delicious recipes along the way!
PS - If you’re into the intuitive eating game as well, follow @laurathomasphd and @drclaudiafelty on Instagram. Both have really helped me positively adjust my relationship with food, exercise and my body.
(**I know each person’s relationship with food and their body is different, so please don’t judge yourself by this post and my philosophy. I’m just sharing my personal experience and why this was the right decision for me this year.)