For 30 days this month we're exploring Whole30, the 30-day reset and refocus on whole foods. Whole30 isn't a diet or a judgment of foods as "good and bad." It's actually a short-term reset that has helped many of our readers cook more and figure out the foods that make them feel their best. Read more about our coverage here.
Anytime someone asks me about my Whole30 experience, they always want to know, Was it worth it? Without hesitation I immediately respond, Yes. A month of eating whole, unprocessed foods was life-changing. I firmly believe that doing Whole30 completely transformed my way of eating. I am a much happier, smarter eater after this challenge and I recommend that everyone try it! And that's not me being dramatic.
On the other hand, I was plenty dramatic during the actual experience. Wait, no sugar? No treats immediately after dinner? But what about my sweet tooth? Why is it aching for dessert that I "need" so badly? What's going to happen to me?
It wasn't just sugar cravings either: At times, I found my body craving foods like never before. Sometimes, I craved foods simply out of habit; other times I craved foods I didn't even usually eat!
The ups and downs caused by the physical changes happening within the first few days caused some serious hanger. I often felt like I was riding an emotional roller coaster. Here's how I learned to deal.
1. Take note of what you're craving.
Is it something salty? Sweet? Write it down. The best thing I did during Whole30 (besides meal prep like a champ!) was write down everything I ate — everything. While this may seem tedious at first, it's great to look back on your journal and connect the dots between what you've eaten and how you felt. It's also a great way to review your progress and give yourself a pat on the back.
2. Record when your cravings happen.
Recognize if you crave candy immediately after a meal (a thing for many people), if it comes after several hours of not eating, or whether it's a certain time of day. After you've figured out when your cravings typically hit, make a plan on how to beat them. Realize it's that 3 p.m. slump? Keep a container of almonds in your desk drawer. Got a hankering for chocolate right after dinner? Go for a brisk walk outside ... which brings us to my next point.
3. Get some exercise.
While your body is adjusting to the changes, a session at the gym may seem exhausting. Getting there is half the battle, and once you've completed a class or even 30 minutes on the treadmill, you'll be so glad you did. Exercise is a mental refresh, a way to remind yourself why you decided to do Whole30 in the first place.
4. Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Friends teased me for always having multiple Larabars floating around in my purse. Preparing for situations where I may otherwise make an unhealthy choice is key to staying on track. Aside from Whole30-compliant bars, I also packed homemade trail mixes and fresh fruit with me at all times.
5. Drink a tall glass of water.
Thirst is often confused with hunger. You hear your body saying, "Hi! I need something from you!" And that something is usually water. When you feel an unhealthy craving come on, drink some water and reevaluate how you feel after.
6. Ask others to provide support.
All of my friends, family, and blog readers knew I was doing the Whole30 challenge. This means I had plenty of cheerleaders along the way. If a craving hit, or if I was questioning why-oh-why I had decided to torture myself for 30 days (I kid!), I'd text a friend. I got some pretty great responses ("You've got this!" and "Don't quit now, you're almost there!") that helped me stay on track.
Bottom line? Yes, you'll have cravings. No, you won't go crazy. Some days will be a breeze, and others you'll feel like the challenge will never end. But it will. You've got this!
Read more about how Christina survived each day on her blog: Hungry Meets Healthy
30 Days of Whole30: We're kicking 2017 off with 30 days of Whole30. Why Whole30? It's not a permanent diet; it's not a prescription for eating. It's just 30 days of eating whole foods and exploring a more purposeful, mindful approach to food. Read more here on what Whole30 is and how to follow along.