We finished whole30 on Tuesday! We did it - the whole 30 days. No dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol, beans, legumes, corn, soy or processed anything. I'm so, so proud of us. My husband feels awesome and lost several inches - his clothes are fitting better and he says he has way more energy. I definitely feel less sluggish overall and felt less anxiety and overwhelm during the 30 days. I don't think I ever really felt the intense energy shift, but I'm just in a season of life that is requiring a lot of hustle so maybe that's to blame. Either way, it was a really eye-opening experience and we are so glad we did it!
Here's a quick recap.
Everyone asks if it's more expensive to do whole30 and the short answer is yes, absolutely. We typically budget $75/week for groceries for the two of us. For whole30, we budgeted $100/week but that definitely was not enough. I kept track of how much we spent on groceries during the 30 days and it was right around $700, which was a 133% increase from our normal budget. We spent over double what we normally do on groceries - which seems crazy! I know that sounds like a lot - and it is! But when you break it down by individual meal cost, it factors out to about $3.89/meal. That's less than fast food places! And we are talking completely wholesome, totally clean, ethically raised food. That perspective really helped me not freak out over the money. And that $700 includes pantry staples that we will use beyond whole30 - we have several unopened jars of things that I stocked up on. However, that amount didn't include much meat, because we stocked up on meat in the weeks leading up to the whole30. But, we also splurged on a lot of items that weren't totally necessary, like pre-made iced coffee, expensive almond milk, pre-made french fries and hash browns, expensive coffee since we were drinking it plain, expensive sauces and condiments, lots of larabars, compliant green juice smoothies, that sort of thing. You could definitely keep the costs way lower if you make more yourself than we did! And in my eyes, the money was well spent to learn so much about our bodies and how they respond to certain foods. And in the long run, a few hundred dollars on groceries is nothing compared to what you might spend on healthcare to treat issues that stem from prolonged poor nutrition!
Plan, plan, plan. Look at your calendar and pick 30 days where you have few or no social commitments. You don't have to start on a Monday or the 1st of the month. Just pick a timeframe that works for you and your schedule. And plan out your recipes. Make meticulous meal plans. It will make it SO much easier. Batch cook one day a week - we usually did this on Saturdays. We made up some lunch options, prepped greens for easy salads, chopped veggies for quick snacks, etc. And in the weeks leading up to your whole30, start stocking up on groceries as things go on sale. Dry goods like larabars and pantry staples that won't expire, and even things like almond milk that has a long refrigerator shelf life. And definitely meat and fish - watch the sales and stock up on that stuff if you have space in your freezer to save some money.
The whole30 blog is a wealth of knowledge! I also loved following @whole30, @whole30recipes and @wholespirit on instagram. Also, Danielle Walker's blog Against All Grain has a ton of compliant recipes. So does Katrina Runs for Food. And my friend Emily has been posting her dinner recipes during her whole30 as well, and many of them are ones that I bookmarked for future ideas!
So now that whole30 is over, where do we go from here? We personally chose not to do the reintroduction phase, since this was not my first whole30 and I already know that I'm allergic to gluten, dairy and soy thanks to some allergy testing I had done in 2013. And also we're leaving for a five-day trip tomorrow, and reintroduction while traveling will not be the easiest thing in the world. We didn't miss beans, rice or corn much, so we aren't going to rush to add those back into our diet. I'm not going to be buying gluten-free products anymore, because they're expensive and still full of not-so-great ingredients and additives. For the most part, we're going to try and stick to an 80/20 plan - 80% strict paleo, 20% not. Red wine is definitely going to be a regular part of my life, as is coffee creamer. But I do know that sugar is absolutely a huge anxiety trigger for me, so I'm going to try and avoid foods that list sugar on the label. So a lot of our sauces, condiments, meats, etc. will continue to be whole30 compliant! That way, if I have that bowl of ice cream or piece of chocolate cake, it will affect me less since I haven't also been eating sugar in every other product in all my meals that day. But I firmly believe that life and food are to be enjoyed, so I'm not going to beat myself up about indulging here and there. And I don't believe in calling those indulgences "cheats" - to me, that reinforces a negative connotation to those foods and I don't want to make myself feel guilty for eating them. I just want to maintain a healthy approach to my food. Mostly clean, but occasionally not, and let that be okay!
Have you ever done a whole30? What was your process like afterwards? I'm curious to hear if + how you created something more sustainable for your life and budget!