If you don’t know what #Whole30 is, it’s a sort of diet / cleanse thingy (though I’m sure it’s practitioners would eschew those words) that you do for thirty days to reset your body or whatever and also help you realize how much you’re fucking up your body with the garbage you eat.

What are you allowed to eat on #Whole30?

Meat, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and fruit. No dairy, no grains, no beans, no gluten, no alcohol, and no sugar (which means no condiments except brown mustard and Frank’s Red Hot. More about this later.)

Why did you do #Whole30?

Oh man, this was bad. So I was in Florida hanging out with my boy Derrick and did me a gluttony. He took me to an all-you-can-eat sushi place and I don’t even eat sushi that often but I was like, “Tonight, it’s going down.” So then when I was full, I ate another round of sushi, because they brought it to the table and I wasn’t gonna be wasteful, ya know? I staggered out of the restaurant like “Oh man, that was a lot of raw fish and cheap steak” and would have been fine except then Derrick took me to the brewery where he works and of course gave me beer and I’m sitting there trying to drink this beer down feeling bloated as hell already and I glance at the menu and it’s like “Boyyyyyyy we have poutine here.” Not just any poutine, BRISKET AND CHEESE CURDS poutine. And of course D says he can hook me up, so next thing you know I’m cramming brisket and cheeseacurds slathered in gravy into my mouth-hole, not even messing with the fries. The whole time knowing I’m making a big mistake, but ignoring my internal voice telling me to slow down.

my internal voice: “Check yourself before you regret yourself.”
me: “Shut up and eat your poutine.”

Anyways, nothing terrible happened. But the next day, I was like “This is ridiculous. This is no way to treat a human body. I gotta get my shit straightened out. Especially what with summer coming up. I don’t want to be laying out for a suntan feeling all bloated on sushi and beer and gravy.”

So when I got back, I was contemplating a life change and the next day my co-worker Miss was like “I’M ON THE WHOLE 30 EXCEPT FOR A HUNDRED DAYS INSTEAD OF 30. IT’S THE BEST!” (Miss is very upbeat, always. Once she drank caffeine, and I thought she was literally gonna bounce right through her desk.)

So I thought, “Fuck it, may as well do the #Whole30.” And that’s how I embarked on this life-changing quest.

I think part of the #Whole30 is that you’re supposed to post pictures of your food on Instagram. Maybe not officially, but everybody does it. As well as writing detailed blog posts about it. Whatever. I skipped that part because I was too busy eating lettuce by the fistful like a goddamn bovine.

I also skipped the part where you read the book or the website or whatever by the people who started the program, and instead I just spent a lot of time googling about whether or not I could have something. (The answer was always no, unless we were talking about fistfuls of lettuce.)

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So here’s what happened when I embarked on #Whole30:

1. So Many Sweet Potatoes

They’re like, the best carb or whatever, and also super easy to cook. So I spent a lot of time eating sweet potatoes. Fortunately, I like them a lot, but after my fourth or fifth meal in a row of just a microwaved sweet potato with salt on it, I was like “CURSE YOU ORANGE GOOBERS!” (which is also what I say whenever I see Donald Trump’s face LOLOLOL ZING! there’s some topical political humor for ya’)

What I learned: Sweet potatoes can be microwaved in a few minutes if you stab them with a fork. (The same is probably true of small animals, though I never tried it.) Also, if you slice sweet potatoes, toss them in olive oil, and grill them, they are amazing. Straight up. If you’ve never believed a word I’ve written, believe this one. GrilledSweetPotatoes.

nom

Nom nom nom.

2. Fuckin’ Frank’s Red Hot

Franks’s is the stuff they use to make wing sauce. It’s approved for #Whole30 because it’s mostly just vinegar and cayenne, so I used that on everything. Lettuce. Eggs. Steak. Sweet potatoes. It was really good, but by the end I was like “Ugggg enough already.”

What I learned: Cut a cauliflower into bites, toss it in olive oil, roast it for 50 minutes, toss it in Frank’s Red Hot. Bam! You got you some Buffalo Cauliflower. Now get some fake ranch dressing from Miss that’s mostly eggs and olive oil, dip your cauliflower in that shit, and you’re halfway to a pretty darn good Thursday night.

3. I slept more. 

I’m not sure why this is, but I averaged about a half hour more of sleep whilst on #Whole30. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because I wasn’t in the kitchen eating nachos at midnight. That can really mess with your sleep, because if you’re like “Should I go to bed or eat a plate of nachos?” hell yeah you’re eating nachos. But if you’re like “Should I go to bed or eat a carrot?” all of a sudden sleep sounds pretty damn delectable.

4. Don’t eat avocados if you’re allergic to them.

The Lord has gifted me with the burden of being mildly allergic to avocados. I say “mildly”, because nothing terrible happens: my mouth itches a bit, but I deal with it because I’m an adult and guacamole is amazing.

For this story, you should know that the best #Whole30 compliant fast food you can get is a salad at Chipotle that consists of only: lettuce, carnitas, salsa, and guacamole. They are so good that I have been known to eat two in a row. Follow that up with some avocado slices the next day, and some tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayonnaise the day after that, and then your body says to you: “Bro, I know your avocado allergy is mild enough that you ignore it. But you’re abusing the privilege. Now you have a rash all over you body. Take a hint.”

So that was the end of avocados for me.

5. Everything has sugar in it. 

Here’s how you read ingredient labels when you’re on the Whole30:

“Hm, I wonder what’s in this shit? Eggs. Cool. Tree nuts. Not bad. Vinegar? Ok! Some sort of vegetable? So far so good. Olive oil? That’s ok too. Hey, maybe we’ll be able to eat this tasty shit after all. Yeah boyyyyyyy… wait what’s this? ‘Contains less than 2% of spices and also sugar so haha fuck you.’ Welp, I guess I’ll go eat a fistful of lettuce then.”

Everything has sugar in it: Spaghetti sauce. Ketchup. Peanut Butter. Sausage. The air you breathe.

(I say a lot of jokes, but this one is actually one of the best takeaways from my Whole30 experience. It’s really eye-opening to see how much food has added sugar in it, and learn ways to use stuff that has no added sugar. For example, if you read all the labels on the spaghetti sauce at Target, you’ll find one that has no added sugar. And it only costs a few more cents than the regular stuff. See? That’s a lifestyle change that’s pretty easy to make.)

6. The hardest thing.

You wanna know what was the hardest thing about #Whole30 for me? Was it not drinking beer? Nah, I just did that for Lent. I can handle that. Was it no nachos? No pizza? No grilled cheese? Not really. Once you set your mind to eating like a rabbit or a squirrel or something, it’s easy to live with the options at hand. I’ll admit, I did get a powerful hankering for pancakes a few times, but I was blessed by the Lord to not have a strong sweet tooth so even that was bearable.

No, what I really missed was drinking milk straight out the jug.

Especially when eating those buffalo cauliflowers from #2. I’d be standing in the kitchen like “OMG WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE FOR A SWIG OF MILK RIGHT NOW.”

What I learned: You can take the homeschooler out of rural Pennsylvania, but you can’t take away his milk straight out the jug without some major displeasure.

7. Don’t hate on Kale Chips. 

“Ohhhhh Millennials think they’re SO SPECIAL with their avocado toast and their debilitating student loans and their kale!”  – Somebody’s dad from Iowa, probably

Anyhow, Kale is great because it’s extra dark green so it’s twice as good for you as lettuce [citation needed] and probably also has a lot of iron. Actually, even though it’s a leaf product I think it’s more closely related to broccoli than lettuce. It’s fairly unbearable to eat raw (as are most vegetables, come at me bro), but you toss it in olive oil (you sensing a theme yet?) and roast them for about 20 minutes, then dip them in some fake ranch dressing from Miss mixed with some Frank’s Red Hot (see #2) and you may find yourself to be a pretty happy hipster after all.

8. BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR BODY?

I think the mentality of #Whole30 is that you’re not supposed to be trying to lose weight, which is fine by me because I don’t even have a scale. But everybody low-key wants to know about that, and I’m not gonna lie I was feeling a little more rotund in my botund than I really wanted to before all this went down (botund is a made up word).

All I’ll say about that is, my body felt better. Lighter, literally. I didn’t feel like I had a rock in my stomach when I woke up in the morning (usually what happens when you eat a buttload of nachos late at night.) Also, my mind felt clearer. I know that’s what everybody says, and it’s true. I don’t know if that’s because I slept a bit more, or because I didn’t drink any alcohol, or what. But it was a good effect.

As far as before / after pictures go, I don’t have any of those. But I do have this picture of me performing a lip-sync of “You’re Welcome” from Moana at a church camp near the end of my #Whole30 experience, so do with that what you will:

maui

(For a “before” picture, just imagine a tall white person, suffering from winter depression, eating Taco Bell in bed whilst re-watching the Office on Netflix.)

9. Maybe #Whole30 is a Cult

So, I’m not gonna come right out and say that #Whole30 is a cult, but I will say it’s a set of extremely strict rules handed down by a tiny group of leaders which are then followed fastidiously by dedicated ideologues.

In the process of Googling various things to find out if I could eat them whilst on #Whole30, I found some fantastic bits of absurdity on the site. These are my favorites:

On Kombucha:

ALL kombucha uses sugar in the fermentation process. But some brands are transparent about that, and others are not. This means if you’re walking through Whole Foods and pick up a bottle of Health-Ade, you’ll have to put it back on the shelf, because they choose to provide a full list of ingredients. They’re transparent. I like that about them, but it also rules them out for the Whole30. This kind of sucks. But when you look at GT’s label… no sugar. Cool. It looks compliant. So you can drink it.”

On accidentally eating soy:

“I hate to say it, but yeah… Soy is one of those ‘gut-disrupting-never-okay’ items. Don’t look at it as starting over – look at it as taking on the challenge on a fresh foot, together!”

On making healthy imitations of pizza and pancakes:

“The problem is, if you continue to have sex with your pants on, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re gonna want to take your pants off.  And during your Whole30, that spells trouble.”

(Yes that’s a real quote. No, I’m not going to explain it for you.)

10. I Didn’t Always Follow the Spirit of #Whole30

Part of the premise of #Whole30 is that you re-examine and reset your relationship with food. But sometimes I still fell into the habit of wandering around the kitchen at night looking for something to eat. Finding nothing more intriguing, I would resort to bananas with almond butter. Sometimes, I would skip the banana, which is how I found myself in the kitchen at midnight eating almond butter by the spoonful muttering through glopped-up jaw: “I’m pretty sure this is not in the spirit of #Whole30.”

But do I judge myself? No, I do not.

11. Be kind to your body always

Chronologically, this should go toward the beginning but I just thought of it now, and it’s a good point to end on so here we go:

I think the most important thing is to be kind to your body. Like, treat it good. Give it the food, water, and sleep that it needs. This actually helped me have a more pleasant beginning to my #Whole30 — there was about a week between when I decided to get my shit together, and when I actually started the program. During that week, did I binge on donuts and pizza because the end was near? No I did not. I tried to eat as healthy as possible as I geared up to start the actual thing. This helped me SO MUCH getting off to a good start, because I wasn’t slammed with all sorts of garbage food withdrawal symptoms for the first week.

Did I do as good of a job easing out of the #Whole30? Not quite. I chugged some milk straightaway, ate a bunch of cheese-sticks, and probably had more beer than was exactly necessary. But I also forwent hamburger buns, and french fries, and other such nonsense, because I knew that slamming my face full of salt and fat and carbs and sugar was not going to be a kind and gentle thing to do to my frail mortal frame.

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Final Verdict:

#Whole30 is not as bad as you think it might be, especially if you like meat and don’t care about candy. It’s a good way to clear your head and drop a few pounds from your midsection, if you’re into that. Some of the rules are pretty intense, and so you wind up avoiding a lot of perfectly healthy food because it has something in it that’s against the rules (like soy sauce or canola oil). This is slightly ridiculous (and also fairly privileged).

Full Disclosure: 

It was more of a #Whole27 than a #Whole30. Here’s why: After six months of winter, the sun finally came out last Friday and we were grilling on the back deck when I looked over at Ellen and said, “It’s too nice out to not be drinking beer this evening” and she said “Yep” and that was the end of that.

Here’s a picture of a bunch of healthy shit from Target:

target

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