Things I Learned From Sabotaging My Whole30 Plan (and Why I’ll Try It Again)

I tried and failed to complete the Whole30 challenge ¡ª but it’s OK| because the experience has set me up to succeed on my next try. When I received the Whole30 cookbook ($18) in the mail| I was intrigued and inspired to turn my health around with this diet plan of no grains| legumes| sugar| or alcohol. “Paleo on crack|” is what some people even call it. And I stuck to it fervently until day 18. That’s the day I effed it all up and had a glass of Champagne . . . followed by a loaf of bread. And just as the book predicted| once a cheater| always a cheater. The next day I put cream in my coffee. So what did I learn| and why will I try this crazy diet again? Take a look so you can avoid the same mistakes.

Image Source: Walt Disney Studios

Your cravings are temporary. Your pride is forever.

The book claims that your food cravings only last a matter of minutes ¡ª which I found to be true. They even warn you that after several weeks of not consuming alcohol and sugar| you’ll start to see it everywhere| also true. By day 18| I acted like a partially rabid animal around the sight of sugar and Champagne (my favorite beverage of choice). But as soon as I took a sip of the good stuff| it didn’t make me feel good! Why? Because I had broken the agreement I had made to myself of sticking to this diet for 30 days. The thrill of “sinning” didn’t outweigh the shame. OK| I get it now ¡ª submitting to my cravings doesn’t taste as good as “tiger blood” (how you supposedly feel the second half of the program).

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Sugar and alcohol are the worst things ever.

Part of the Whole30’s purpose is to discover which foods send your health in a downward spiral (make you bloated| exhausted| break out| etc). Even though I only got through day 18| I discovered alcohol and sugar are my worst enemies. One beer or one chocolate chip cookie is enough to give me a raging headache. As much as I hate to admit it| I have to limit myself on these beloved treats| and I’m appreciative that this diet helped me see that dairy/gluten/legumes aren’t the big dietary issues for me.

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If you didn’t make it yourself| chances are it has sugar (or alcohol) (or gluten) (or everything noncompliant).

The book tries to set you up for success when dining out. The problem is| this diet is complicated. I tried to explain to waiters| “It’s gluten-free| sugar-free| alcohol-free ¡ª ghee| but no dairy.” Their eyes glazed after I told them| “No| this isn’t an allergy-related diet.” And you know what? After the exhausting back-and-forth| I’d still end up with a burger with [sugared] pickles or a salad with [sugared] dressing. There’s no avoiding it unless you buy from sources that are Paleo. But even Paleo has different rules| and you may end up with something coated in coconut sugar. It’s exhausting. So| I’m determined to cook 100 percent of my meals next time during a month in which I can commit to eating at home.

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Get the support of your friends and family.

I tried to do this thing solo ¡ª bad mistake| as most of my family members and friends were enablers| taunting me to cheat on my plan. Even though the Whole30 talks about its supportive forum| nothing beats having a friend| significant other| or family member on board with you. So the next time I try this thing out| I’m enlisting the support of a buddy!

But enough about the fact I only made it to Whole17 1/2. I’m going to try this challenge again and complete it| because I learned so much already from this experience. I did drop a jeans size and five pounds (in addition to sticking to a workout regime)| so the diet does help shed excess weight. I got a glimmer of “tiger blood” as my workouts were way| way stronger| my hips and back pain miraculously stopped| and my menstrual cramps became nonexistent. I also felt like I was much more productive and focused at work| especially since midmeal hunger didn’t send me scrounging around for snacks. There’s too much good stuff to deny that the Whole30 does make a difference. Therefore| I’m telling you all now| world. I’m trying the Whole30 again in Februrary| and I’m sticking to it.