Let’s get it out of the way — I quit the Whole30 halfway through Day 17. This is what I wrote, that day:
In all honesty… I kind of hate the Whole30. I’ve yet to experience any of the awesome benefits touted by others. No ‘tiger blood’, no clear skin, no better sleep, no giant burst of energy. I am mostly somewhat hungry all the time and grumpy a lot. I’m struggling with intense sugar cravings, and it doesn’t take a lot for me to get hangry. I’ve yet to get through a day on three meals and can’t kick snacking. When I eat I feel full right away, but shortly after, I’m starving. I’ve been trying to follow the template for how much protein, vegetables, fats, etc., but no matter what I do I’m hungry.
I suspect I wasn’t getting the right mix of protein, fat, and fiber, although I did my best to follow the plan’s meal templates. No matter what I did I was hungry right after eating, and woke up each morning in a fog, struggled with focus all day long, and crashed, exhausted and angry, early on in the evening. It was no fun for anyone. The only reason I was sticking with it was because I said I was going to — and in a fit of why am I restricting myself based on what works for other people?, I quit.
I read a few blog posts from others who quit part way through — not within the first troublesome days, but a few weeks into it. They put what I was thinking into words, something like this:
- telling myself ‘you can’t have this’ serves to make me want it more, which lead to obsessive thoughts about food, which is dangerous for me
- having anxiety and stress about eating is no good
- for some people, regimentation seems to work, but to me it feels like restriction — moderation is far better!
- even if I got the right benefits at the very end of the 30 days there was NO WAY I was going to keep up eating like that, so it was mental torture without any clearly beneficial reason to go on
I was desperate to be able to eat Greek yogurt again in the morning, to have rice with my dinners, to eat peanut butter and beans. The most benefit I’d seen on this program within the 16 days had been weight loss — about four pounds — but I don’t even care about that if it means I can still eat healthily but not restrict my food groups anymore. I lost weight but I was starving and lethargic. Not worth it!
I realize this is kind of a bummer post, and I know that part of the Whole30 is mental — believe me, I tried to remain positive! That’s how I got through stress without resorting to my usual glass of wine, and how I got through a kid’s birthday party with gummy worms and Reese’s cups and chocolate cupcakes. I recognized when and where I typically use food as a reward, which is good to know.
So I reintroduced pretty much everything right away, and my stomach was kind of unhappy with me, and I’m still trying to deal with sorting out appropriate portion sizes. But even with a bit of stomach upset, my energy levels have zoomed up. I woke up, the day after I quit, and didn’t have to pry my eyes open. I cleaned the living room, ran a few loads of laundry, made a homemade lunch and muffins, and took M to the park. I didn’t feel impatient or stressed or hungry.
I think the Whole30 has major benefits, and I am a believer in clean eating. I’m going to try to take more of an 80-20 approach — mostly good, clean food, with indulgences as a treat. I don’t think there’s anything hugely wrong with having a glass of wine or a cookie after a stressful day. I believe that food is one of the enjoyable things about life, and I would rather weight four pounds more and feel happy.