At first glance, it looks like a bunch of "no's." No alcohol, no grains, no potatoes, no legumes, no added sugars, no carrageenan, MSG or sulfites (essentially no highly processed foods). So what's left? A whole bunch of healthy veggies, fruits, nuts, proteins and fats.
I kept a log/journal on the Whole30® forum site, and it's been helpful to track my journey. On "Day Zero" I listed my goals: losing weight, getting rid of that pervasive "I think I'm coming down with something" feeling, greater self-esteem. And my biggest challenges: stopping sugar, eating more veggies, and eating three balanced meals daily.
"Day 1: I went to the grocery store. They have a whole section there devoted to vegetables. All sorts of vegetables! Who knew!?! I bought some."
"Day 2: I've never thought this much about food before. It's kind of interesting to pay attention to what you eat. What a concept!"
"Day 3: According to the Whole30® timeline, this might have been a day for starting to feel cranky. I didn't notice any difference, so either I'm always cranky, or I'm not having that particular response. Yet..."
"Day 4: I haven't been truly hungry since starting this program, so each meal feels like a chore. A chore to cook, a chore to eat, a chore to clean up. Is this the crankiness coming on???... Okay, enough whining about having to eat healthy food. Talk about a First World Problem."
"Day 6: [After five consecutive days of eating chicken] The plan is to go to Whole Foods tomorrow and buy pretty much anything except chicken. Guess that's not really much of a plan. I will try to refine it before I head out the door."
In the second week, I began to notice some changes.
"Day 11: Really starting to get some energy going. And getting motivated to take on some projects that have been lying fallow in the morass of my (apparently) sugar- and gluten-induced torpor (in other words, things I've been too frickin' tired and bummed out to do)."
I had some epic recipe fails, especially when I went off-road and tried to create my own recipes. "And the winner of the Worst Concocted Meal Ever award goes to... [my pulled pork, salsa, spinach, almond and ginger creation]. Going to crack open some recipe books tonight. I think I need to seek 'professional help'."
By Day 25, I was feeling more confident about cooking. "[Whole30®] has taught me that the kitchen is not my enemy. I can actually cook things! And they sometimes come out edible! Maybe that makes it all worth it."
In the end, I managed to face and conquer all of the challenges I listed on Day Zero, and I met all of my goals as well. So as I come to Day 31 and the end of my Whole30® challenge, I am free to eat whatever I want. What will I choose? Actually, I think I'll just go for more of the same. Why mess with a good thing? (Okay, maybe I'll have some dark chocolate. A girl's gotta live a little.)