On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

One of the goals I set for 2017 was to complete another Whole30, and I decided to jump in with both feet on January 1st (as did, it seems, half of the people I know!).

This time, I decided not to make a big deal or talk a lot about it on social media because I often find myself demotivated once I’ve shared something like that publicly and also because one of my main goals for the Whole30 itself was to find a healthy balance moving forward that extends past the 30-day challenge itself.

Although I’ve completed a full Whole30 in the past—and learned a lot about the additives in various foods and how different foods affect my body—my goal this time was to get control of my cravings, break my bad habits, and create a sustainable eating plan for the future.

On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

With those goals in minds, I adjusted the Whole30 rules for myself in several ways…

1. I did not stress over additives. I’d like to say that I’m willing to get all of my bacon straight from the butcher without any sugar all the time, but I’m not (especially when the Never Any! brand of bacon is $4.49/lb at Aldi!). But beyond that, I want to be able to use things like lunch meat and store bought ketchup, mayo, and almond butter without hunting down special, more expensive versions. So I chose the best options available to me without worrying about the ingredients that broke the rules.

2. I didn’t give up my Starbucks lattes. Look, I know they’re expensive and some people consider them a waste, but lattes are one of life’s simplest pleasures for me, and I look forward to getting one a couple times a week when we’re “in town”. Giving up lattes is not a sustainable choice for me (because I don’t think it’s necessary for my long-term goals), and so I decided to allow myself that small treat a couple times a week.

On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

3. I said yes to a little chocolate every day. Similarly, I don’t think that all sweets are awful, and finding a sustainable balance meant being able to say yes to a few squares of chocolate without scarfing down the whole bar. I’ve done surprisingly well at this given the large basket of chocolate in my wardrobe, sticking to just a small amount of mostly dark chocolate each day (usually around 10:30-11, almost like clockwork!).

4. I kept rice and oatmeal in moderation. In general, I’m not tempted to gorge on these foods, but they are staples of our diet, so I kept them, allowing myself unsweetened oats a couple times a week and rice once a week or so with dinner.

5. I weighed myself every day. I understand why you’re not supposed to weigh yourself every day on the Whole30—it is not a diet aimed solely at weight loss, and focusing too much on weight can undermine some of the other goals. But for me, knowing how my decisions affect my weight—and using that as a check-and-balance for my food decisions—is part of my goal, so I weighed myself every morning. I’ve lost 12 pounds even with my “cheats”, and while I could possibly lose another 5-6 pounds, my goal at this point is maintenance rather than weight loss.

On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

Considering we had the stomach flu in the midst of my 30 days (and I did allow myself toast with a little all-fruit jam on the days I was sick!), I’m proud of myself for sticking with the whole thing. I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to do it if I started making exceptions, but I really feel like I’ve found a health balance when it comes to food.

I’ve had food issues for my entire adulthood, and self-control and moderation have not been my strengths. But I read Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction by Asheritah Ciuciu in the first part of the month, and while I don’t agree with everything she said (she’s not a fan of the Whole30, for example), it did help me adjust my view of food and hunger through a lens of faith rather than cravings. I think it’s made a huge difference to my success this time. I wouldn’t turn down a piece of cheesecake (or a pan of my grandma’s rice pudding!), but I don’t feel like I’ll gorge on them when given the chance either.

And, honestly, I feel so good eating this way that I can’t imagine going back to my old habits, even now that my 30 days are up.

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On completing an almost-Whole30 and creating sustainable habits

Whenever I talk about the Whole30, I get questions about how I fit it in a busy schedule with a large family. Here are my top 3 tips for making this work:

1. Choose simple breakfasts & lunches. I enjoyed experimenting with new foods for the first week or so of my challenge, but as it became less exciting and we eased back into our regular {busy} routine, I needed simple foods instead! That means scrambled eggs and sautéed veggies, egg cups baked in larger batches and reheated each morning, baked oatmeal with enough for leftovers, etc. When I’m in a pinch, I slice a pear, wrap sliced turkey around each piece, and add a handful of nuts on the side.

2. Don’t try to limit the amount you eat. The beauty of the Whole30 is you can eat as much as you want. I realized one night when my oldest made shepherds pie and I felt like I needed to limit how much I ate that not limiting is a huge part of what I love about this plan. I had lost touch with what hunger and fullness really felt like, allowing my tastebuds to dictate how much I ate instead, but now I eat until I’m full and then I stop. No worrying about calories, fat, etc. Easy!

3. Make Whole30-compliant dinners. Although my family didn’t participate in my Whole30, I did serve Whole30-compliant meals wherever it made sense. Paleo pumpkin pancakes with sausage patties have become one of our favorite breakfasts, and I always make dinners Whole30-compliant, even if they get something “extra” (pasta, bread, etc.) that I don’t. I can’t imagine making a Whole30 work with kids any other way, and they’ve tried all kinds of new foods in the process.

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Have you done a Whole30?

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