Lessons from a college student on Whole30
Before I even get started you are probably wondering what in the heck is Whole30? No, it is not one of those crazy fad diets but it potentially could be.
The goal of the program is ultimately to change your lifestyle. It is only extremely strict for 30 days then you can make it your own.
As defined on the Whole30 official website, it is a program where you “cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days.”
What are these “inflammatory”, “psychologically unhealthy”, and “gut-disrupting” foods you ask? Basically, it is certain food groups such as dairy, sugar, grains and legumes.
Cutting these out resets your metabolism and rids your body of foods that could potentially be upsetting your system, not to mention upsetting your waistline.
Where it all began
Not being able to eat any sugar, bread, pasta or other grains; no milk, cheese and other dairy, as well as no beans or anything like that seems impossible in college. On top of that, to think I have to cook close to every meal while living in a dorm is pretty intimidating.
Despite all the barriers stacked against me, I was tired of being addicted to sugar. The first thing you must do to defeat any addiction is to admit you have a problem. So hear is my public confession: My name is Elizabeth, and I have a problem, a sugar problem that is. Whew. Glad that is over with.
Seriously though, I am addicted to sugar. I am the type of person who eats well in general but put a plate of brownies in front of me and I practically inhale them. I cant have just one, I have to have three. Even if I am full I will reach for just one more.
Five brownies later...
I decided to do Whole30 to break this addiction.
Preparing for the 30 days
Going into Whole30 I was definitely scared. Scared of failure, really.
How was someone like me, the busiest person on the planet, without a kitchen, supposed to succeed at a program like this? The odds were definitely not in my favor.
I did some Google searches on how to succeed in Whole30 while in college, and I found this blog post by Melissa Hartwig, founder of Whole30 and the author of the book “It Starts with Food.” The program encourages you to read this before you start the program, but, like I said, I am busy and didn’t have time for that. Hah.
The truth of the matter is you have to set your priorities straight for the next 30 days if you want to succeed. If that means putting meal prep (YES, YOU MUST MEAL PREP) before going to the gym for a month then that’s what you’ve got to do. It is frightening and time consuming but it can be done!
Some things I did were look of recipes for Whole 30 on Pinterest. As you may know, Pinterest is a gold mine for this sort of thing! Use it! I also followed @whole30 and @whole30recipes on Instagram for inspiration and meal ideas.
Lexie’s Clean Kitchen is also a good resource for Whole30 ideas, but there are plenty of recipes on there that are NOT Whole30 approved. Be careful.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes I have made and loved:
- Taco Soup — It's a little spicy.
- Chicken and Kale Soup — I didn’t use the kale.
- Homemade Larabars — these will save your life! They are so good. I liked my homemade ones 100 times better than the ones you buy at the store.
My accountability group
I have tried giving up sugar many times before. However, if I don’t have someone to hold me accountable I will typically fail.
There is something about that healthy competition that keeps you from cheating because you don’t want to be the first one to cave.
My sister and I had something like that going on this summer. It went well for about one week until she had to get her wisdom teeth out and ate milkshakes for every meal.
After that the whole “no sugar plan” was essentially shot to you-know-where.
A couple friends of mine decided to take a stab at this Whole30 thing and it was the perfect opportunity for me to jump in and try and tame this sugar addiction once and for all.
Throughout the course of the 30 days there have been more than a couple times I have wanted to cave but one of the girls in my accountability circle was there to encourage me to say no; together.
Accountability is essential to Whole30 success. If other people don’t believe in you then it is hard, if not impossible, for you to believe in you too. Grab a friend and tackle this challenge together.
I am on day 18 of Whole30. I would be lying if I told you it has been easy.
Some days have sucked. (Cough. Cough. Halloween. Cough.) Walking down to the lobby of my dorm and watching tons of people pig out on 30 boxes of free pizza, candy, and homemade caramel apples. Don’t get me started about those homemade caramel apples. How badly I wanted one!
In that moment no one was there to give me encouragement to say no. All I got was, “Dang, that sucks you cant have this.” By that point in the program I was strong enough to say, “No. Don’t cave now.” And I didn’t.
Another hard thing is throwing away the pita I get when I order Med Deli. IT IS LIKE A DAGGER IN MY HEART. All I ever want is the hummus and pita from Med Deli. Not being able to eat that is cruel and unusual punishment.
Other things I have noticed throughout the challenge
I am married to Trader Joe’s. I go there every week to get groceries for the week.
My greatest epiphany during Whole30 was the discovery of plantain chips. The best part is they are Whole30 approved. They are better than real chips, you guys. I could eat the whole bag.
I do not like the fact I have to drink black coffee, but I do it anyway. A lot of times I’ll drink tea. I love tea and it is a good substitute.
I use my dorm kitchen most every day of the week. I meal prep and make multiple chicken breasts or turkey burgers at one time or a whole pot of soup to live off of for a couple days.
I have not starved! I eat very good food, better than anything I could get in the dining hall, though I don’t have a meal plan.
The hardest thing is saying no to that sugar craving. But I have done it.
Where I am today
I am a little over halfway complete and I am feeling good. I never have an upset stomach and I never eat too much.
It is easy to binge on comfort food and feel like it is just sitting in your stomach afterward, but when has anyone ever binged on green beans? Even if you did you wouldn’t feel sick because that sort of food just doesn’t sit in your stomach.
I have not weighed or measured m self since I started because that is not the purpose. The purpose is to recognize how you FEEL different not how you LOOK different, though naturally that will come. I have thinned out in my face and can tell my waist is a little thinner, and I still have about half way to go.
I am so proud of myself for tackling and succeeding at this venture! I still have 13 more days, but the intimidation is gone and I feel like I am on the last home stretch. Like I have gotten on the other side of the obstacle in my way but that race isn’t over yet.
Stay tuned for the second part of my journey on Whole30 and please comment if you have any questions about the program or if you are along for the ride too and have some tips for me!
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