I can’t believe that it’s almost been another 30 days since I finished my first Whole30. I have reintroduced, regretted, resisted, and revisited. Most importantly I have compiled a list of the things that you need to know about those first wobbly steps back in the land of plenty.
‘Reentry’ can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Here are the most prevalent themes so far in my life post-Whole30.
1. YOU WANT ALL THE THINGS. But you don’t want to break the spell.
This is totally normal. You have a good thing going. But remember, if you did the Whole30 as long term elimination diet in the first place , you need to reintro a few things to gauge just what the key irritants are to your system. This isn’t fun. I know it sounds like it would be (as your brain lovingly caresses the image of you popping those Cherry nibs you’ve been waiting for into your mouth) but that’s not what reintroduction is about. It’s not fun to bust through the pristine veneer of clean eating, but even this phase of reintroduction is about long term changes. Remember this isn’t a ‘quick fix’. You’re changing your life.
2. You might feel heartbroken about what the real irritants are.
I was so sure that the only culprits in my would be wheat and dairy. I was wrong. Corn. My beloved popcorn. And rice (though to a lesser degree). My hearty ‘fill-me-up’ rice even sat in my stomach like a bowling ball. And let’s not get started about the legumes. I was actually a bit depressed during this phase. I tried little bits of food 3 days apart to make sure that I wasn’t compounding any kind of allergic/histamine reactions or sensitivities (except for the time I ate deep-fried brie with fresh baked bread but I’m pretty sure that was a once in a life chance). It does get better. It does, because you’ll know like you know that hooking back up with an ex might seem like fun but is never the right choice— those foods don’t belong back in your life. Promise.
3. You’ll gain some weight back, hit a plateau, or find yourself wanting to weigh-in regularly because you’ll think you’re doing something ‘wrong’.
Stop. Just stop. Remember, Whole30 isn’t about weight loss, it’s about feeling good. And if you’re putting health first you’re doing everything right. Yes, you might have lost weight during that first 30 days, but the minute it’s over try not to become the crazy ‘before and after measure my results!!’ person that you just finished unlearning to be. Instead of your weight, focus on your quality of life. Your energy, happiness, sleep quality, stress-levels… those are the indicators that you should be looking to if you’re not ‘feeling it’ like you used to. You might need to modify some element of your daily eating – but that might even mean increasing your portions and intake so you are sustained properly. Sometimes your numbers are going up because you’ve added some lean muscle! Whatever the reason check in with why it’s so important to you to be a number instead of being happy, healthy, and strong. And please always check in with your doctors, nutritionists, therapists and trainers to make sure that you are doing what’s right for you, your body, and your overall health.
I can not tell you how many women I’ve talked to who love the Whole30 and Paleo so much that they want to eat like that forever. You know. Except with wine added to the menu. Sounds awesome right? But let me just say that I have inadvertently been a PSA for drinking while eating Paleo / Whole30-esque, twice.
Let me warn you my friends. Your tolerance will be reset. Completely. If you’re thinking ‘Oh, but I’ve gone 9 months without drinking during pregnancy…” think again. I’m talking an exponential reset button.
I don’t know why exactly there’s a difference between drinking with cheeseburger goggles on versus drinking while you’re eating clean, but I’m pretty sure that eating the slick saturated fats and tasty sugars in processed food creates some kind of hardcore metabolizing agent (or happy magic grease-filter) for alcohol. I mean there’s a reason why in my 20s we used to ‘carbo-load’ before going out for drinks, because, science.
But when you completely remove the crap from your system, and then you add wine the effects are well…how do I put this?
Have you ever seen an overtired 7 year old do a maple syrup shooter?
Yeah. That’s all I’m going to say.
I’m not saying don’t drink, because you’re a grown up (although it is a toxin, and full of sugar and empty calories no matter how you look at it). But know that ‘drinking responsibly’ will mean something very different after this cleanse and it might take a while to find your new limit. I suggest keeping your best friends around you and doing a couple pilot runs at home where you can only eat Whole30 foods when you decide to sing show tunes and eat all the things. And you will. Oh you will.
5. You might feel sad that you’re not magically cured.
I know. I get it. After 2 weeks on the Whole30 I had no joint pain. I was so excited to see my rheumatologist and have her tell me that I was fixed and fantastic and obviously found a cure all for my autoimmune issues.
I was actually put UP on my meds instead of going down like I magically thought I would.
I was devastated. “Keep doing what you’re doing, because it is helping. But we don’t know if after a month it’s simply because eating clean is letting your body absorb your medications more efficiently. And I still see and feel swelling in your hands and shoulders. Regardless of diet your meds should have you at a point where you’re not experiencing any symptoms…”
She must have seen my crest-fallen expression because she gently reached out and touched my arm.
“Going off your meds is a long term goal. I’m right behind you. But you can’t go off them until you are symptom-free. And that is not going to happen over night. It might take a long time, Kat… But keep this up!”
I wasn’t ecstatic with the news, but at the same time I love working with my doctors as part of this team and she’s right— just because something doesn’t happen overnight, don’t give it up.
Something I’ve realized is that it’s better to keep your energy and happiness as markers for progress instead of medication dosages. Now I tune in to see how I’m feeling at the end of each day or first thing in the morning. If I’m feeling great I know I’m doing something right. If I’m not, I have to be honest with myself about why.
Remember— reentry is more about reacclimatization than it is about regression.
Give yourself time. Listen to your body. It will show you the things you need to work on next. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden just think— you made that many changes in 30 days, imagine where you might be in 90? 120? 360?
Talk to me, Goose.
Finished your Whole30? Scared to reintroduce anything? What are you finding hard to give up permanently? How do you feel? Let me know in the comments.