Hi friends! As promised, I wanted to bring you a life after Whole30 post that will hopefully give some more insight into what you can expect & how the experience can translate into “real life.”
Dang, this girl is STILL talking about Whole30? 😉 HAHA.
I thought about waiting a while longer before writing this because it has only been 2 weeks since I wrapped my last Whole30, but since that was my third round I feel like I’ve learned enough that’s worth passing along to you. This most recent round was definitely the best yet – I feel like it truly transformed me and how I think about food. So let’s talk about what my life/eating has looked like over the past 2 weeks, shall we?
How I Reintroduced Foods Into Life After Whole30
To be honest, I think I kind of fell somewhere in the middle with my transition out of Whole30. I didn’t quite follow the prescribed Whole30 Reintroduction Plan to the T, but I also didn’t run out and give myself a massive cheat meal on day 31. I actually don’t even remember what my first “post Whole30” meal was!
The more I think about it, the more I realize that’s because of the intentions I set for my Whole30. In the past when I did Whole30 I was more focused on losing weight, and while there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, it just gave me a totally different mindset when it came to the challenge, and that didn’t translate as well into transitioning out of it. This most recent challenge, however, was primarily about the Whole30 non-scale victories for me, so it was like I had this whole new awareness of how I was feeling and how…well, food is just food. It was almost like my brain was retrained. For example, I literally remember thinking “you should really want a bagel right now, but you actually don’t.” WEIRD, right? (I still haven’t gotten a bagel since, which is kind of mind-blowing, haha.)
With that being said, more practically speaking my eating over the past two weeks has looked mostly like how I said in my final Whole30 recap: I added back in legumes, some dairy, some whole grains (mostly gluten-free), and have been eating mostly Paleo style while at home and more flexibility while dining out. I’ve had pasta, pizza, shared desserts with people, etc. But still none of it was really “overdoing” it – not because I have this superhuman self control, but because I’m just so much more in tune with my body and know when I’m satisfied. That’s how I see myself continuing to eat because it helps me feel great but also allows the freedom to just live my life. Cue Rihanna singing.
Am I Going To Remain Eating Paleo?
Short answer: yes and no. Not as much as I thought I might (during the midst of my Whole30), but more than I was before.
From this past round of Whole30 I learned more than ever what my body responds to best when it comes to what I eat, how I move, and how I think. I definitely found my body thriving on lots of vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. I also found that I genuinely love those foods, especially when I make delicious and creative recipes that are anything but boring.
However, the only labels I like in my life are on my handbags. When it comes to how I eat, not so much. If I HAD to define my happy place style of eating, I’d say it’s a combination of Paleo eating (whole, real foods) mixed with some of the Flexible Dieting/IIFYM principles (balance & portion control). I don’t have any issues with tracking macros and have dabbled in it in the past, but it’s not something that works for me personally long term. Maybe throw some Intuitive Eating in there for good measure 😛 At the end of the day I’m constantly finding what works best for me, and the Whole30 has helped me learn what that looks like.
How I’ve Dealt With Cravings
While I haven’t had my bagel yet (trust me, it’s coming) I’ve definitely had a few cravings, most of which I satisfied while I was dining out (pasta at L’Artusi, pizza from Rubirosa, nachos and a burger from Spring). I think it’s important to realize that cravings aren’t a bad thing. If you’re a human being, you’re going to have them. The problem is when you let your cravings turn into an all out eating competition with yourself. Not a good look.
For me personally, there are two ways I deal with cravings. One is that I simply allow myself to eat that food (mind blowing concept, right?). For example, when I finally do find myself craving that damn bagel, I’m going to go across the street to my bagel place and get the real thing.
The other way I deal with cravings is having/making a slightly healthier version of whatever I want. The key here is knowing when you can truly do without the “real thing,” otherwise you’ll just keep craving it. For me, that looked like enjoying Enlightened ice cream a couple of nights post-Whole30, or a Mikey’s Paleo Chocolate Chip Muffin Top.
On that note, something that reader Lindsay asked me about is how to manage sugar cravings / a sweet tooth. This is something I’ve gone back and forth about for a while because…well, we all know sugar isn’t exactly the best thing for you, but how can you not love it?! I think you really just need to do what works best for you – if sugar/sweets are something you want to avoid 100%, a cold turkey approach might be best (so fun, I know). Or you could try to stick to something like nuts or dried fruits, but for me that never worked and always left me feeling like I wanted a “real” sweet treat.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself from this most recent Whole30 challenge is that I’m someone who loves having some sort of dessert after dinner, and that’s okay. Instead of trying to fight it, I just embrace it! I enjoy my nightly sweet treat habit after dinner, so it’s something I’m making the conscious decision that I don’t want to give up.
With that being said, as I just mentioned I’ve found that the key is to find healthier alternatives that still feel like a treat to me. Usually a good ol’ spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips will satisfy my sweet tooth without overdoing it.
(P.S. I just realized that that is sort of one of my missions with Hungry Blonde. I love showing people how you can enjoy healthier alternatives to your favorite foods without feeling deprived!)
Looking Back On Whole30
As I look back on my Whole30 I think WOAH, go me! As I mentioned in my Whole30 recap, I do think it’s an especially difficult challenge living somewhere as social life-centric as New York. As much as I loved the results of the experience, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy that I’m back to normal life.
Reader Ashley asked me a great question about what the hardest days were, and I would definitely say it was week three. The first two weeks for me were so great because I was still super motivated, but by week three the end seemed so far away and the novelty started to wear off. That’s when I really started to realize how much I had to take it one day at a time, and by week four I was back to being motivated because I knew I was so close to the end. If you’re in a Whole30 rut and need some motivation, I laid out all of my top advice in this blog post!
Another question from reader Lindsay that I loved was if there were any surprises I found from my Whole30. I know I sound like a broken record with this, but I can’t emphasize enough how much a difference it made to focus on the non-scale victories. Not to be dramatic but it has kinda sorta been life-changing for me and how I view food. In fact, it has also changed the way I look at my body/weight because I realize how much more important it is to feel (rather than look) my best.
I’d say some other interesting surprises were: 1) the fact that I don’t have crazy intense cravings since ending the challenge 2) how I dropped weight without feeling like I was always hungry 3) I’ve noticed a lot less dips in my mood. Maybe it’s a placebo thing, but I genuinely feel like this round of Whole30 made me an overall happier person and calmer person.
All in all, I look back on my Whole30 feeling accomplished and like it really did the job. In the future Whole30 will for sure still be my go-to reset of choice when I need it.
Is It Worth It?
I would say that this question is the #1 thing that has helped me successfully transition out of Whole30. It’s something that I remember reading about from Whole30 co-founder Melissa Hartwig and it has stuck with me ever since. I think it was in an Instagram post that I can’t seem to find now, but she talks about it in this Life After Whole30 article and I believe her new book Food Freedom Forever is essentially all about this concept (I haven’t read it yet but plan on it!).
The “is it worth it” mentality is basically asking yourself – do I actually want this? If you do, great! Go for it. But I think that post-Whole30 you’ll find yourself looking at food differently. You might look at something you think you should want to eat and instead think – NAH, not worth it. For me, I’ve learned that the taste of a food for a few minutes isn’t worth giving up how awesome I’d feel if I ate something else. Maybe tomorrow it will be, so then I’ll eat it tomorrow. Once again it’s not about willpower, it’s about mindfulness.
The bottom line for me is, and always has been this: living a full and happy life is more important than what I’m putting in my mouth. Some days that means I want a bowl overflowing with vegetables and a big glass of my chlorophyll water. Other days it will mean pizza and ice cream and frozé.
No one – not me, and not even the Whole30 founders – can tell you what that looks like in your own life. Whole30 is an incredible tool to HELP you find what that lifestyle looks like for you! That’s why it’s so important to follow the program 100% because it is truly designed to help transform you not just for 30 days, but hopefully forever.
Alright, this may be the last I chat about Whole30 for a while 😉 BUT I really enjoyed addressing the topic of mindfulness and food freedom, and I’d love to share my thoughts & experiences with it more in future blog posts. As always I would love to know if you have any questions or topics you would like to see me address. Feel free to leave a comment, and/or follow me on Instagram for more of my day-to-day Hungry Blonde-ing. xoxo GG
You might also like:
Whole30 R3 Goals
Whole30 R3 Week One Recap
Whole30 R3 Week Two Recap
Whole30 R3 Week Three Recap
Whole30 R3 Results & Lessons Learned
Maintaining Your Social Life On Whole30
Top 10 Favorite Whole30 Meals & Recipes