Whole 30 Reintroduction Wrap-Up
The Whole 30 has officially come to a close, leaving many of you with a “now what?” sort of feeling! You have all come very far with your relationships to food and exercise, setting proper and attainable goals, and honoring commitments to yourself! I have been very pleasantly surprised at how many of you gave your all to this challenge, and appreciate the support and positive energy that each of you bring to our fitness community.
Since many of you did so well, after all of the final measurements are in and all baseline workouts are completed, I will be pooling the names of everyone that entered the pot that stayed on-plan for the Whole 30 days, submitted a statement, and also had positive results and improved baseline times. From there, I will draw a winner for the pot, as well as a second winner for the facial and hair treatment prize (donated by Victoria!)
Thank you to everyone that came out to the potluck and got together to read some of our awesome testimonials from our participants. A summary of the results you have experienced during this challenge from the statements I have received so far:
- Tiger Blood! A feeling of general well-being and happiness!
- The ability to differentiate between cravings and hunger
- Inflammation decrease, absence of bloating, clothes fitting better
- Increased creativity in the kitchen
- A healthier relationship with food choices
- Enthusiasm to choose healthy foods
- Connecting the meanings of “food as fuel” and “food and feelings”
- The ability to be an informed consumer, reading labels, etc.
- Better control of sugar cravings
- Improved sleep: Falling asleep faster, staying asleep, awake feeling refreshed
- Not feeling deprived: eating when hungry, stopping when full!
- Decreased need for medications
- Decreased joint pain, anxiety, blood pressure and resting heart rate
And this is just the beginning! All of these great improvements might leave you scared or unwilling to go back to the way you were eating before, which is great! However, we don’t want fear to be the motivation for you to continue eating in a healthy manner. The good news is that your Whole 30 does not end here. The habits you have built and relationship with food that you have found will be the foundation for how you maintain a sustainable way of eating that will benefit your health, fat-loss, or fitness goals (or all three!).
NOT A DIET
This is where the part I emphasized that Whole 30 is NOT A DIET will come in. Diets incite our old feelings of restriction, calorie counting, and fixation on the scale. What you don’t want to do (many of you have expressed how you don’t feel the desire to do this, which is a great testament to how powerful this challenge is) is throw the towel to the wind, yell “woo-hoo!” and go binge on any and all of the foods you might have missed during this challenge. What a terrible way to reward yourself for your hard work, by feeling awful reintroducing so many inflammatory and sugar-laden foods at once! What this challenge did for you was free you from the “diet jail” (which is a multi-billion dollar failed industry preying off of desperate, instant-gratification driven individuals).
This challenge has shown you a new way of eating that will be a long term lifestyle change, one in which eating will become almost second nature, healthy, and easy to maintain. Eating should be enjoyable, but also first and foremost a way to fuel your body! Sometimes events come up where you will enjoy a treat, but always come back to your Whole 30. The idea is to be aware of this balance, and always be aware of how the foods you put in your body are affecting your wellness.
In some ways, the reintroduction period will be the most difficult, because there is no set rules or daily schedule. Each of you will have your own experiment and paths to take from here that will lead you on an easily sustainable road that coincides with your goals.
Many of you ask what I eat. The truth is, I have done multiple Whole 30 and Paleo challenges. Through these, I have found exactly what foods do and do not work for my body, and have an almost effortless maintained way of eating that coincides with my goals. The key is to be mindful, realistic, and be very aware after reintroducing foods what the effects on your body are. For instance, I know through my previous challenges that grains in general (note: not carbs or gluten) are extremely detrimental to my body, cause a lot of inflammation (my weight will fluctuate up to 5lbs), and cause me to be lethargic and have cravings for multiple days. Being aware of this, that does not mean that I never eat grains. Once in a while, if the situation arises and I truly want to eat such a food (usually it is unappetizing to me), I will do so, and then return again to my usual way of eating. Eating something “off plan” should never be a reason to “spiral out of control”. Simply take account of how it affected you, brush it off, and move on. One sandwich, bowl of ice cream, or margarita (;-)) will not affect your LONG TERM results from the food you take in.
Another food that I eat almost daily is greek yogurt. I know that, through multiple experiments with myself, that eating greek yogurt and a piece of fruit first thing in the morning does not negatively affect my body, and is a good way for me to get protein that will fuel me until the afternoon. During Whole 30, I ate eggs or leftover meat instead (which is hard to prepare and eat at 5:00am!) and often have to eat some fats such as avocado or nuts as well as fruit to get me through to lunch. Eating greek yogurt in the morning, I do not need any “fast fuel” to get me to lunch.
You will fluctuate between reintroducing foods, having setbacks, and resetting. Again, when I stress that Whole 30 is not a diet, this is the most important part for you to understand. Through these challenges, you reset your body into knowing what is optimally healthy for you. From there, you can reroute and adjust, but in time and practice you will always know what “home base” is for you.
The Reintroduction Plan
“You’ll reintroduce “less healthy” foods back into your diet one group at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet as Whole30-clean as possible. Think about it like a scientific trial, where your Whole30 is the control and the one food group you are trying to evaluate is the experimental group.
This means you’ll have to plan carefully, and not combine major food groups during your reintroduction period. For example, don’t eat a slice of toast with peanut butter, because how will you know whether it was the peanuts or the bread that made your joints ache? Do your best to reintroduce each designated food group (as outlined below) alone on your reintroduction day.
Yes, you’ll likely get some added sugar in many of your “experimental” foods—that’s really hard to avoid. If you do choose a reintroduction food with lots of sugar—say, a Starbucks grande Caramel Frappuccino with whole milk—you’ll have to deal with the dairy + sugar consequences all at once. Chances are, however, you’ll know intuitively what to attribute to which ingredient—digestive issues are generally dairy-driven, while energy fluctuations, cravings, and mood swings are probably sugar-related. However, some side effects, like skin breakouts, may be the result of the sugar, or the dairy, or the combination of both.
We encourage you to continue to increase your awareness of how the foods you eat are affecting you even after your Whole30 and reintroduction are over. By paying attention every time you eat a non-Whole30 food in the months to come, you can learn even more about how your body reacts to certain foods or ingredients—and continue to make more informed decisions about which foods you deem are truly “worth it.”
Reminder: If you don’t miss a particular food or drink that you know makes you less healthy, don’t bother to reintroduce it. Not missing tofu, black beans, cottage cheese, or brown rice? With evidence pointing towards these foods making you less healthy, there’s no reason whatsoever to add them back into your diet. Only reintroduce those foods that you suspect you’ll really want to include back into your diet once in a while, and leave the rest happily behind.
Next, you’re going to follow the general reintroduction schedule and order, but you’re not going to eat things you don’t really, really want to eat. Just because it’s Day 31 doesn’t mean you have to have a legume-filled day. If you wake up and don’t feel like eating beans, tofu, or peanut butter, then don’t! If your “relaxed Whole30” is working great for you and nothing is calling your name, then there is no reason to change anything.
However, the day will come when the idea of something bean-y sounds really delicious. When that happens, you reintroduce. Enjoy the soy sauce at sushi, slather some peanut butter on your celery, or add some black beans to your deconstructed taco salad. (Or do all three!) The point is that you decided this could be worth it—not that our reintroduction schedule said you had to.
There’s nothing that says you have to do your reintroduction in just 10 days. If your legume experiment went horribly wrong and you feel like you really need extra time to get your Tiger Blood back online, take it! Five days, a week, ten days… what’s important is that you only reintroduce one food group at a time, and that you allow yourself enough time between food groups to be able to effectively evaluate each of the independently.
Proceed with (Craving) Caution
Finally, an important point, and something that trips up many Whole30’ers during their reintroduction. If at any point, you start to feel out of control (like what you’ve reintroduced woke up your Sugar Dragon), get back on the Whole30 for as long as it takes to stabilize. This is most common with the reintroduction of sugary foods or gluten grains—eating muffins, chocolate, “dessert,” or bread again can make some people rabid with desire for processed carbs and sugar again. So be on the lookout for cravings rearing their ugly heads, and halt that process before it takes over your brain by returning to a strict Whole30.
Does this advice sound a little… extreme? Like, really, will I feel out of control after just a day of off-plan food? Yeah, you might. And we take sugar and carb-addiction very seriously around here so please, listen to us, and don’t feel like a failure if you have to jump back on the Whole30 for a few days to calm things down. You’re actually succeeding, because you’re not afraid to do the best thing for you, your long-term health, and relationship with food. Winning!
Here is a sample 10-day reintroduction schedule. Feel free to alter your particular food choices to suit your needs.
Day 1: Evaluate legumes, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30 compliant. Try some peanut butter on your green apple with breakfast, a bowl of miso soup at lunch, and a side of black beans with dinner, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, go back to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate and decide how, how often and how much to incorporate legumes into your regular diet—if at all.
Day 4: Evaluate non-gluten grains*, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30 compliant. Eat a serving of white rice, some corn tortilla chips, and a slice of gluten-free bread, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, return to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate and decide how, how often and how much to incorporate non-gluten grains into your regular diet—if at all. *Corn, rice, certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc.
Day 7: Evaluate dairy, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30 compliant. Have yogurt in the morning, some cheese in the afternoon, and ice cream after dinner, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, return to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate and decide how, how often and how much to incorporate dairy into your regular diet—if at all.
Day 10: Evaluate gluten-containing grains*, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30 compliant. Gluten is such nasty stuff that we want to break it out from the other grains, so you can evaluate it all by itself. Over the course of your day, eat a muffin, two slices of whole wheat bread, and a side of whole wheat pasta, while paying attention to how you feel. Then, return to the Whole30 for the next two days, and see how things go. Pay attention, evaluate and decide how, how often and how much to incorporate gluten grains into your regular diet—if at all. *Anything made from wheat, rye, or barley.
Note, there’s a difference between being afraid to change anything, and not feeling the need to change anything. The former (being afraid) is not our intention. The Whole30 is designed to teach you how foods interact with your unique body and brain, so you can take that information out into the real world and apply it in a fully sustainable fashion—riding your own bike, as we call it. To stay on the Whole30 indefinitely out of fear is missing the whole point of our program. Is the idea of eating a small piece of your Mom’s once-a-year holiday dessert (your favorite food ever) giving you anxiety? Do you really want to reintroduce something you’ve been missing (cream in your coffee, hot buttered popcorn on movie night, or a glass of wine on date night) but you just won’t let yourself? Do you feel lost, without a sustainable plan for eating in the real world, because you’re not really on the Whole30, but you won’t really come off it, either? If this is your story, then hold on the rest of this advice and read the above-referenced Ride Your Own Bike article first. You need to get over that fear, because it’s holding up your progress! You’ll never find a healthy, balanced, sustainable way to eat—a way that works for you—if you blindly follow our rules for the rest of your life.” (Whole30.com)
Again, thanks to each and every one of the 16 of you that agreed to take on what might have seemed like a crazy challenge! Also, thanks to everyone reading this for supporting Foothills Fitness, which has been growing with your help to improve health and fitness for our community in an affordable, safe, and effective way for exactly 6 months now! I am so excited to see your enthusiasm and loved to share your triumphs and further progress with you as time goes on.