Whole 30, Day 8: The Pluses are Real, but So’s the Cult.

DAY EIGHT: I’m coming to you live from the treadmill desk in my company’s breakroom! The temperature is, as Nate would say, “takeaway one,” so I’m getting a little movement in where I can. I love this thing, but it’s impossible to actually do anything over 2 mph.

So, I’ve made it more than a whole week on the Whole30 plan, and I have to say, it’s really working for me. I think the biggest factor was being completely ready, from a mindset perspective. As I looked ahead to 2020, to many of the work-related (exciting!) and personal (not so great) challenges that lie ahead, I realized I needed every physical and mental advantage. And, frankly, my diet has been loaded with bad stuff and lacking in good stuff. The holiday season found me consuming, at all hours, way too many Santa-wrapped Hershey kisses.

Aren’t they the cutest?!

For once, too, I undertook this less concerned about the potential weight loss benefits of changing my eating (though it’d be a nice perk, of course). I have been struggling with sleep, waking up cranky, and feeling foggy throughout the day. My aging skin, always a little pink, seemed to be getting rosier. And the more I read about the effects of my beloved dairy (oh, cheese curds!) and particularly sugar on all of the above, it seemed the potential upsides of eating the Whole30 way was worth a month of my life.

So, for the past seven and a half days, I’ve successfully given up sugar, dairy, grains (yes, even the good ones) and legumes. Alcohol was already off my list, and that’s one of the program’s no-nos, too.

For the first four days of our austerity challenge, I had the luxury of being off of work and/or working remotely, and the excitement of meal planning and cooking generated positive energy. We made a number of palate-agreeable recipes that were even eight-year-old approved. My favorite was this luscious califlower-based hummus. (NOTE: We tripled the amount of garlic called for, and it was so good.)

Excellent starter kit of goodies from my bestie, via Primal Kitchen.

UPSIDE: Though cravings were much milder than I expected, we suffered from some DOWNSIDE: serious gastrointestinal distress. Fortunately, we are of the mind that farts are always, always funny, and they really never get old. UPSIDE: Perhaps all the laughter also helped to mute the cravings.

My son had been keeping a close eye on the below calendar, which humorously illustrates the emotional stages many people go through. “Mom, do you think we should really go skiing? Tomorrow is All the Things Killed!”


Thus far, I haven’t gotten cranky, though I did feel a bit weak and flushed on the evening of Day Four. I bounced back by mid-day on Day Five. Day Six was my return to work after many days out of the office, and I was seriously dreading it. NON-VANITY VICTORIES: To my delighted, high-energy surprise, I got up effortlessly, as has been the case every day since. And I’ve had a good week, tackling things and conversations I’d be procrastinating on. I’ll take it.

VANITY VICTORIES: Great skin. Flat and rock-hard stomach. Is my butt rounding back out?

RANDOM CHANGES: I very successfully passed a leftover bag of Santa-wrapped kisses in the breakroom! (Before, diet or not, I’d have snuck one or two.) I’ve also felt compelled to put a bit of liner on my lower lashes. Huh.

So … it’s going well. But … DOWNSIDE: this cult thing.

I’m in a couple of Facebook support groups, and a lot of the information has been useful. But the people are extreme sticklers. Cheating isn’t defined as a real cheat, like, say, eating a bunch of Santa-wrapped Hershey kisses. Cheating is harshly defined as follows: Accidentally ingest a little soy in a salad dressing? Start over. Lick your daughter’s yogurt spoon? Start over. Step on a scale? Start over. 

As a student of psychology, this is way too extreme. When you expect perfection from anyone, disappointment is sure to follow, and treating such tiny missteps as failures is disheartening enough to cause many to just quit. Even if your daughter’s yogurt spoon was delicious, a lickety-licky wasn’t enough sugar to make any meaningful difference, and you’re still on a solid path to reset your relationship with food.

The second issue I have is the DOWNSIDE: silly notion of Sex With Your Pants On (SWYPO). Basically, this rule prohibits you from recreating “junk” foods with approved ingredients, such as cassava flour tortillas, banana pancakes, etc. The thinking is that, like, well, the above they might feel good, but stoke cravings for the real thing. I think that’s a giant presumption and prevents learning to make healthier choices to satisfy a certain craving.

The above rule is also apparently randomly applied, as other mock junk foods, such as sweet potato waffles or spaghetti and meatballs with zoodles, are just fine. I saw a post for a Whole30-approved egg-roll-in-a-bowl the other day, and it’s unclear psuedoeggrolls are fine, but a pseudopancake with chicken sausage isn’t. Both, in their traditional unaltered form, are junk foods of the highest order. Facsimiles of both can easily be made healthier within the Whole30 construct.

As another blogger summed up perfectly, “The rule is problematic and changes this from a program about health and a healthier relationship to food, into a program about deprivation for deprivation’s sake.”

Beyond that, I think finding quality substitutes for favorites increases the odds that people won’t just immediately go back to the real thing, as they’ve found satisfaction otherwise. The new habit is way more sustainable.

Anyway – mini rant over. Truly, I’m very happy I gave the program a try, and am looking forward to the next three weeks of UPSIDES.


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