Why Whole30 Isn’t Right for Me

Do you know what one of the many reasons is that I like blogging so much? Because you guys call me out when I need to be called out. The other day I mentioned wanting to try Whole30 (strict paleo). I really did want to try it. I’ve heard people swear that they felt more energized and who wouldn’t want more energy? This toddler mom certainly wouldn’t mind some more energy, especially if I could program it to kick in right around 4:00pm.

whole30 not for me- yogurt bowl

Vanilla Chobani, Love Grown Oat Clusters, banana and chia seeds

Anyway, you called me out. You said hey, that’s not your style- why do you want to do Whole30?

whole30 not for me- coffee with cream

Hal-Caf with cream

…why? Well, because sometimes I am a sucker for marketing (more energy!) and I have a strong affinity for self-imposed challenges (that I’m working on). I appreciate you guys for calling me on it (well, I appreciate the ones that did so in a nice and genuine way) because after taking a closer look, I realized how wrong for me Whole30 is.

whole30 not for me- veggie grain bowl

Baby kale, wheat berries, roasted carrots, asparagus and onions, chickpeas, goat cheese and Greek dressing

This isn’t to say it’s wrong for everyone. Heck, ultramarathons may be right for some people, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for me. As I looked over the “rules” (warning sign number one) of what you can and can’t have, I found myself saying I’ll do Whole30, but with wine. Yes, I can’t go without wine. Or goat cheese. Ok, goat cheese is in, too. Well, maybe I’ll pick just one grain? Quinoa? Yes, that’s a good one to keep around.

whole30 not for me- peanut butter toast

Hailey’s leftover peanut butter toast, 1.5 grapes and a La Croix

…seriously? What was I thinking. As you so pointedly explained- THAT’S NOT the Whole30. The point is that it is restrictive. The other point is that I’m not into restrictive living.

whole30 not for me- carrots and hummus

Carrots and hummus

And it’s not like I need to kick a lot of bad habits. Kicking candy bars to the curb for more veggies and lean protein may be a great swap for someone, but I’d be booting hummus and grains, both of which I deem healthy.

So I’m back to the basics and focusing on eating real foods, on all whole foods. After all, I’ve never been trendy with fashion…

fashion diva

so why do I need to be with eating?

And what is a Whole30 girl supposed to do when dinner calls for spaghetti squash and she forgets to buy one at the store?

whole30 not for me- spaghetti

Whole wheat spaghetti, homemade meatballs and garlic bread

I don’t know the answer, because I just decided to chow down on the real stuff. With a side of garlic bread for good measure.

PS- I also consumed a handful (each) of walnuts and dark chocolate chips in the afternoon. I even took a picture, then proceeded to delete it accidentally right before hitting publish. Oops.

Thanks, Jenn, for hosting WIAW!

Have you ever tried a trendy diet, only to realize it isn’t for you?

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Comments

  1. says

    Seriously love that Mickey and Minnie shirt. Seriously.

    I think you hit the nail on the head – what’s right for one person isn’t right for another. I think it’s important we set our own rules and do what fuels our body best. I can’t imagine giving up grains, and I’ve limited dairy (because it did not fuel my body well) and I had a hard time. Because dairy is GOOD.
    Kimberly @ Healthy Strides recently posted..Herd mentality: Buffalo Chickpea QuinoaMy Profile

  2. says

    I really agree with you here I just can’t sustain something so restrictive long term and to me that’s the whole point of healthy eating! You should be able to keep it going long term! I do however think its good to try new things every now and again just until you find your sweet spot! Sounds like you’re in a pretty good place food wise though, no alterations needed! :)
    Hayley @ Oat Couture recently posted..A ‘How To’ Post – Banishing Exam NervesMy Profile

  3. Lauren B. says

    I had the same thought when I read that you were thinking about trying whole30….why?! I personally think your way of eating is already stellar and balanced. Why mess with that? Keep doing what you’re doing… The energy will come when Hailey leaves for college… :0)

  4. says

    Love this post! I have tried Paleo before and found the same thing…it just wasn’t for me. It’s hard to not want to get on the bandwagon, especially when others have so much success.

    I, too, have a great diet but over the past year my sugar intake has gone through the roof… Mostly due to my wine increase :) So for the next few weeks I am just going without sugar and grains so I can kick the habit and eat/drink like a normal person again.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Katie recently posted..Running, Cupcakes and Life-Coaching: Round 1My Profile

    • says

      I have just finished my first whole30. I would probably not have thought it was for me either 15 years ago (I am 55 now) because I wasn’t having any health problems. Giving up wine, pizza, brownies? No way. Since then I have been diagnosed with breast cancer, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, IBS, and Adrenal Failure. I had been on a what I thought was a healthy diet of no gluten (still plenty of grains) cream in my coffee, 90% organic, 80% raw diet for 2 years. My osteoarthritis started getting dramatically worse. Uh, oh. Then I found this. Arthritis pain 90% improved, energy levels way up, much sharper mentally, etc. I’m thinking this is the answer for systemic inflammation. If you can get away with it, go for it, but for how long? Not everyone who eats like I did gets ill, but from my experience with everyone my age, there is something that is not right with their body, either joint stiffness, foggy thinking, can’t sleep, and that is the “new normal and the body getting older”. And I don’t feel like this is restrictive either. It’s all in how you look at it. I’m willing to trade off for quality of life. Yes, when I feel I have healed sufficiently enough, intestines really repaired and no systemic inflammation, then I will see what I can add back in, like red wine, love it! After writing this however, if someone had told me this 15 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have done it. What is truly healthy?

  5. says

    What a great post, Brittany! Whole30 may be right for some people, but for others (like me and you!), focusing on a healthy, whole foods based diet that includes grains and wine here and there is the way to go. Restriction has been a problem for me in the past, so I try to focus on holistic healthy eating, which includes the occasional bowl of ice cream or “unhealthy” indulgence now and then :-) I think I would miss Greek yogurt too much to eat Paleo…
    Lindsey @ Pas de Deux recently posted..Reflections on Brunch + Vegan WafflesMy Profile

  6. Becky says

    I know people who have done the Whole30 and while they felt great during & afterwards, the FIRST THING they did was go eat something that was restricted/not allowed during their initiation period. Wait, what?!

    I think a good cleanse every once in a while is good thing, but the Whole30 isn’t for me. Or you apparently. :)

    Any progress on Atlas Shrugged?

  7. Mary says

    I love food. Cow’s milk and other dairy products are among my favorite foods, and my body handles them well. I can’t imagine going long term without them.

    That said, I still enjoy vegan dishes! If you find some paleo recipes your family enjoys, add them to your repertoire! It’s cliche, but variety is the spice of life!

  8. Ashley says

    Also, to clarify from my comments about Whole30 the other day. I do paleo for allergy reasons. :) Gluten and milk. It just makes it easier for me. Plus, I have more energy when I stay away from a lot of starches. You do what’s best for you. That’s all any of us can do.

  9. says

    Funny…this is how I felt about south beach diet back in the day when I know a lot less about nutrition and specifically what works for me. I tried it and was absolutely miserable. My diet has changed a ton and I actually think I could do the whole 30 without even changing all that much from what I currently eat, but like you I’m not really in the mood to give up wine…and honestly I love protein muffins made with protein powder. ;-) A lot of people assume that I am paleo and I have to explain I eat a lof of meals that are “paleo”, but I don’t really classify my diet with a name or any very specific restrictions.
    Amanda @ Sistas of Strength recently posted..#LearnMy Profile

  10. says

    Haha. I almost chimed in when you asked about Whole30 (since I’ve done it in the past), and say, “But, Brittany, you already eat super healthy!”…but I’m glad others beat me to the chase. So I’ve in fact done Whole 30 for yes, you guessed it: 30 whole days. I had more energy. I completely lost any and all sugar cravings. I had better workouts. But, I was also cranky. I wasn’t feeling like I was living my life the way I want to. It was very similar to when your friend wanted to meet you for lunch. When someone would suggest a place to eat that wasn’t very Whole30 friendly, I’d get anxious and turn down their offer. That’s no way to live! So I think you made the right decision!
    Maria recently posted..Real Age vs. Calendar AgeMy Profile

  11. says

    That’s exactly what happened with us! My husband kept says… “why do I have to give up greek yogurt? why do I have to give up hummus? neither of those things are bad for me.” and I honestly didn’t have an answer for him! Thanks for putting it out there and being volunerable!
    Michelle @ Lifewithacrazypup recently posted..Margarita CupcakesMy Profile

  12. says

    Great post. It really does help to sometimes sit back and think about the challenge you are planning on undertaking. I’m contemplating going vegetarian during February (just to try it out), but I really have to think about it before I commit!

    Your eats look amazing – especially the spaghetti and meatballs! YUM!
    Olivia @ Liv Lives Life recently posted..WIAW #30My Profile

  13. says

    I thought about the Whole30 but it is pretty restrictive. Although, so is Paleo which I’m doing now so maybe I could do it… I still haven’t given up wine but am doing good so far! I, like you, am a goat cheese fan and have been missing it greatly! So after my 30 days are over I’ll probably add it back in along with Greek Yogurt. Might stick to gluten-free for a while though as I’m feeling better so far!
    Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome recently posted..WIAW – Paleo Challenge EditionMy Profile

    • says

      They make some great raw cheeses that are available at certain stores! I’m doing a Whole30 right now so none for me, I found the last time I did one if I ate any dairy other than raw cheese I’d break out within the hour. Giving up the wine, for me, isn’t as hard as sugar in general! That’s why I needed another 30 days of strict eating and cleansing :-) Check local stores for raw cheese, Trader Joes has some but really read the labels because some are still processed :( It can be pricey but I prefer the selection at Whole Foods AKA: Whole Paycheck. Just remember; don’t cook or heat the cheese then it’s no longer raw.

      Good luck!!

  14. says

    The last “diet” I ever did was a Suzanne Somers diet when I was in college 8 years ago. It worked, in the sense that my belly has never been flatter. And the positive about it was that I was never hungry … I didn’t have to do low calorie or anything. But it just wasn’t realistic for real life. Since then, I’ve stayed away from all diets and low calorie eating. And I think my body thanks me for it. ;)
    Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..Bourbon Street ChickenMy Profile

  15. says

    I always think I want to try paleo or try whole foods only for awhile… but then I think, who am I kidding? It’s one thing to eat healthy, but to try those just for a challenge is a bit silly. (For me.) I lose the sense of why I want to do it and get lost in the self-competitiveness.
    Angela recently posted..Random ThoughtsMy Profile

  16. says

    At one point I tried a low-carb diet, and now looking back I think, “what in the world was I thinking?” I love carbs and the idea of giving them up is ridiculous for me. Now that I am a vegetarian, giving up carbs would be totally unrealistic for me. My body needs carbs and the energy that they provide, so you definitely will not find me restricting carbs ever again!
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..Sweet and Savory WafflewichMy Profile

  17. Jodie says

    Your “diet” is so wonderful and balanced. I am glad you arent doing Whole30. I view you as one of the true and honest “all foods fit in moderation” bloggers and it made me sad when I thought you were going to! Props to you, woman!

    • Mollie says

      I agree! I feel like so many bloggers are trying to be trendy with their “diets”. I love how you eat realistically…and I use a lot of your menus for meal ideas for my kids!

  18. says

    Hey, new here. I found you through Tiff’s blog, but I LOVE THIS. I’m so ready for the paleo trend to be over, and I wish people would stop viewing perfectly healthy foods as ‘bad’, or like avoiding grains is going to solve their lifes ailments. I think that if people spent at least half the time working on their internal issues rather than strictly focusing on changing their bodies, we’d be so much more balanced & healthier.

  19. says

    Oh my, so true. I was feeling the same way this past week. I read “It starts with Food” and was also really intrigued and tempted to try. But I eat just like you! It wasn’t anything close to my norm… and I have no intentions of giving up all grains, and especially not dark chocolate. Keep doing what you’re doing! You’re already one healthy mama.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Marathon day eats and drool-worthy recipesMy Profile

  20. says

    I’m with you on this one! Ever since I decided to count nutrients instead of calories about 8 months ago, not only have I dropped 45lbs, but all of my old food “rules” are gone and I can’t imagine (nor do I want to!) going back to the crazy restrictions that got me to 220 lbs in the first place!
    Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily recently posted..Exercise ProgressMy Profile

  21. Shannon says

    Thanks for this post. I was set to do the Whole30 and went to the grocery store…and changed plans based on the fact that we couldn’t afford it. One can of coconut milk was$2.99. One avocado was $1.49. I have 5 kids to feed and the plan was just too restrictive. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. It’s a great reminder that I’m doing just fine without having to follow that particular challenge.

  22. says

    I read It Starts with Food this past November and it really hit home for me. I was spinning out of control with my eating habits. Do I want to do the Whole30 challenge, yes. Do I think that I could actually do it, no.
    I do have to say that since reading that book I have cleaned up my lifestyle 80% I just miss oatmeal way too much and I don’t think that I could look at another egg for breakfast again anytime soon. I am going to get back into following my favorite healthy blogs, finding new ones, and getting my lifestyle back on track!
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  23. says

    Is veganism considered trendy?

    I’m just going back to it is important to do what works for you. Yes, food challenges or new diet plans can be good for some people, especially those who need to kick start a total overhaul of the way they have been eating. Heck, I’m about to help with a 28-Day Challenge for the Engine 2 diet at Whole Foods, teaching recipes and techniques to people who are making lifestyle changes. However, I believe in the plant-based way of eating. I do not believe in a lot of Paleo stuff, because, as you said, it cuts out a lot of things I believe are healthy and love to eat. :)

    However, adapting a ‘diet’ to your needs is just the way to go. That is why I am a vegan with benefits. It’s quirky to say, and it means I can eat yogurt, which, in its Greek form, has actually helped out my system a LOT. Most other dairy, however, does not.
    Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen recently posted..Bloobs Sounds Like Boobs [#WIAW]My Profile

    • says

      Interesting post. I’m on day 7 of my Whole30 after years of eating paleo and feeling great. While it may “not be for some people,” I have a different view on food altogether since removing grains and dairy from my diet and reaping the benefits. I don’t see it so much as “restricting” what I’m eating as much as I see it as eating what’s good for me and not eating what makes me feel like garbage. I’d simply rather not have dairy because it makes my stomach hurt, bloats me, and makes me excuse myself from the table than to indulge in cheese because I like it so much. The Whole30 – and I’m a fan of Whole9 but I’m not advocating anything – is not about permanent omission of your favorite foods, but temporary evaluation of how the foods you eat affect you, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and whether you want to make more permanent changes based on that evaluation. Red wine is great, I love it, but on a Whole30, which *is* strict, it’s simply not allowed because of the potential *negative* side effects that could derail progress during 30 days that you’re attempting to absolute optimal health.

      I also find it interesting to read so many people write they wouldn’t be able to do it. Where’s your faith in yourself?! Of course you can do it! You’ll miss oatmeal too much? Oatmeal will be there when you get back, I promise. And there’s more to breakfast than eggs. :)

      Anyway, great post, and great pictures. Hungry just looking at them. Wish I could have some of that garlic bread and spaghetti, but I’ll take the meatballs if there are no breadcrumbs or cheese in them. ;-)

      • says

        Hi Jeff! Thanks so much for your comment. I love hearing about people’s experience with Whole30 and I’m so glad yours is positive. I’ve seen it really turn people’s health around, which is fantastic! For me personally, my body doesn’t have any sensitivities or allergies, so I thrive on a wide variety of whole foods. I am always open to hearing other points of view and it sounds like it’s been a very positive experience for you! Thanks for your input :)

  24. Gwen says

    Being from a family of celiacs and related to many with auto-immune disorders and some with heart disease, I have been very motivated to address my own issues; hormonal imbalances, acne, depression, cystic ovaries and mood swings with cravings. It was not until I cut out grains completely that I began to feel level. If you have no problems, nothing to fix. For the majority of us, I think there is a lot of denial because familiarity is comfortable, and change is hard. But, it’s so great to not feel low, to not have joint pain or acne. I’m 55 now and feel better than I did at 30. The Whole 30 is a great way to figure what foods are making you less than optimal. Wish I had done this a long time ago.

    • says

      Hi Gwen, thanks for your comment! I think elimination diets are great for helping people with underlying health issues find the cause to their problem and I”m so glad you feel so great! Since my body feels good on all whole foods, it isn’t a great fit for me, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for some people. Thanks for your input!

  25. says

    I had all those same thoughts, even as I moved closer to the “paleo” lifestyle. I figured I’d sorta eat paleo, and just work on reducing my sugar intake. I could not do it. No willpower.

    And then one day I said, Oh, for god’s sake, it’s 30 days. Just try it and if you feel like it’s too much, quit.

    That was 32 days ago. They aren’t lying about the energy. I have NEVER felt this good before. Give it 30 days. Heck, give it 14. What do you have to lose?
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  26. D says

    Hi, thank you for your blog – your readers are very smart pointing out the issues with the diet. I did the whole30 and fell in love with it to the point where I couldn’t eat outside of the food list without getting incredibly sick. It’s been5-months and I now have food sensitivities that i never had before including gluten, dairy and sugar (to name a few), and I’m on a strict nutritionist-supervised diet in order to reintroduce grains into my world. My doctor did blood work for me before & after the challenge with the after results showing that my hormone & nutrient levels dropped dramatically and I’m now on 5 different hormones and over 20 supplements. (i’m not exaggerating). Even though I lost weight, I am at my highest body fat percentage ever because while I maintained my crossfit workouts, my body was burning muscle. There are many great aspects to the diet such as eating clean and practicing discipline, but every doctor & nutritionist I’ve talked to agrees that this type of a strict diet should not be followed for more than 2-weeks (unless supervised). I’ve seen people do modified versions of whole30 and that’s what I would personally suggest to anyone who’s interested. Going all in 100% is NOT a good idea!

  27. says

    Great post. I’d like to eat more healthfully but that program asks too much of me! Plus seeing all of the #whole30 tweets only makes me predisposed to hate it.

  28. Leesa says

    I am on Day 5 of whole30 and doing it because my husband asked me to do it with him. So far I feel like #$#@@# and am having health problems I never had before like hair loss. I was a pretty healthy eater before as well and I exercised, but I was a fan of cheese and some cream in my coffee, oh, and wine. Grains I was already using sparingly but not restricting them completely. Since day 1 I can barely make it through a workout. I’m growing more skeptical each day. I’m a researcher by profession so healthy skepticism is a job requirement. The more Whole30 forum posts I read, the more I feel like I have been tricked into joining a cult. Anything bad that happens to you in the 30 days is immediately attributed to “your body adjusting” and if the entire month doesn’t bring you life-altering changes, then your are one of those people for whom 30 days just isn’t long enough. I feel as if I am being asked to drink the no-sugar added Kool-Aid.

  29. says

    Ahhhh… Finding this article was perfect! I literally am reading Paleo Manifesto as we speak, trying to decide if following the Whole30 lifestyle is for me.

    I kept doing what you were doing, it’s okay to have this, and maybe that. And then eventually it just spiraled into so much past what the diet allows.

    I have such an all or nothing mentality and I need to just realize that if I begin eating better, and workout, the weight will come off and I’ll feel better emotionally and physically. I don’t NEED to follow a specific diet in order to live a healthier lifestyle.

    What a great post!!
    Jillian @ Baby Doodah! recently posted..Erway’s Christmas Tree AdventureMy Profile

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