September 18, 2013


Above: some of our meals from the past 30 days.

My first sip of beer was worth waiting 30 days for. It hit my tongue, time stopped, and I could taste everything: layers of honeyed malt, bready hops, and woozy alcoholic fumes. It was so sweet – almost unbearably so. I could barely finish it, and immediately felt tipsy. (I also wondered if that was how sommeliers tasted everything, and was jealous.)

The next morning, I had one of my favorite foods: a toasted everything bagel with plain cream cheese. It took me 30 full minutes to eat. I savored every bite, often with my eyes closed. (...There may have been some moaning.) I was hoping that gluten wouldn't have much of an effect on me, so I could inappropriately enjoy such bagels all the time. But even before we got home, I had pronounced Bread Belly. I felt – and looked – uncomfortably full, like there were rocks in my stomach. And it didn't go away for hours.

My birthday dinner was similarly amazing: Micah and I split a bottle of red wine, started with salads, then split small plates of cheese, cured meats, and ham-wrapped, goat-cheese-stuffed dates. We ignored the crispy crackers on the cheese plate, but jumped on the soft, fresh bread slices that came with the cured meat. He sipped on a cortado and shared my slice of flourless chocolate cake. Then, we had a nightcap at Alley Twenty Six while we talked about my accomplishments from the past year, and my hopes and plans for the next year (a tradition we revisit each birthday and New Year).

Sunday morning, we woke up and went out for donuts and bagels at Monuts Donuts (the line had been too long the day before). At this point, we were both physically uncomfortable, but it was my actual birthday, and this is what I had dreamed about for the last 30 days, so. Everything was delicious because everything was gluten and sugar. We spent the majority of the rest of the day on a palette of blankets and pillows on the living room floor, massaging our food babies and not pooping. We started to talk about how our bodies currently felt, and how much better they felt on the Whole30. We discussed what foods to maybe save for special occasions (gluten, refined sugar, mass quantities of dairy), and what might be okay to reintroduce to our diets (high-quality butter, small amounts of cheese, red wine). We planned out the next few meals, and they were mostly Whole30 compliant, which was somehow now comforting, instead of restrictive.

And that's basically where we're at now. It's still a challenge when grocery shopping – my monkey brain is constantly screaming that nothing is technically off-limits now!!!, so go for it!!! – but we're being intentional about what we bring into our kitchen. I also threw out most of the pantry items that I had stored out of sight during our Whole30, including white and brown sugar, and flour. We're still buying the best meat possible, and I just bought some amazing butter from a local dairy farm that I'm really excited about.

Long story short: we've been changed, physically and mentally. The Whole30 snuck up on us, as I suspect it's designed to do. It challenged us mentally and physically, and we came out stronger and happier for it. I would highly recommend doing it if you'd like to know exactly what food does to your body, if you'd like to press "reset" on your eating habits, or if you'd just like to lose some weight (which is, of course, not the point of Whole30, but a highly probable byproduct of it).

For anyone interested, I would recommend a few different things. First, check out the Whole9 website for an overview of the program, including a comprehensive "can eat / can't eat" list, a timeline of what you can expect to feel over the course of your 30 days, and an active forum for past, present, and future Whole30-ers.

Then, if you're still interested, but maybe want to know a bit more of the science and strategy behind the Whole30 (like why they consider legumes and whole grains "unhealthy"), I'd recommend reading It Starts With Food. (I actually reviewed it here.) Or, if you're interested but maybe need to see what others have actually made and eaten while on the program, I'd recommend scrolling through all the photos with the hashtag #Whole30 on Instagram – it's a great way to get ideas for easy meals, or feel superior about your cooking/photography skills, or simply commiserate with others who are on the same day as you. I also searched for bloggers who had documented their programs – Kathleen, of course, being my favorite. I also leaned heavily on these two recipe indexes for inspiration and guidance before and during my 30 days. And finally, you can check out all of my week-by-week posts here.

I hope this helps anyone who might be curious about the Whole30 program. A few people have asked me about it throughout the course of my 30 days, and I wanted to be a good advocate for it, but didn't always have all the answers, and I wanted to be respectful of others' choices (as in, I didn't want to come across as "preachy"). That being said, let me know if you have any questions! I'll answer if I can, and if I can't, I'll point you to someone who can.