My friend Brooke is one of the wisest people I know. Eight years my senior, her general life advice and “what matters and doesn’t matter” meter is spot on (read: way stronger than mine). So when she asked if I wanted to do the Whole30 program with her in September, it gave me pause. And then also have a mild panic attack because I’d have to give up cookies. Twenty eight going on eight right here.

In certain ways, a program like Whole30 aligns perfectly with the way I view food and diet. In other ways, it goes one hundred percent against my philosophies. A few years back I did a vegan diet for a month (that, naturally, was also inspired by Brooke). I did it mostly for health reasons, but also to prove I actually could do it. I was able to do it and I did feel healthier, but here was the unexpected result- it had a really eye opening impact on the way I cook, and the way I think about food.

It makes sense. When you’re limited by your ingredients and forced to find different methods, it naturally pushes you outside of your comfort zone. But the benefits of that time are still very strongly with me. I learned to prepare tofu really, really well (case in point). My appreciation for beans, just straight up beans, grew by leaps and bounds. I experimented with all kinds of tahini based dressings, discovered the magic that is pickled red onions, and then some.

So in terms of pushing myself to explore new methods of cooking and cozying up to different ingredients, yes, Whole30 totally aligns with my food philosophies. But when it comes to the joy of dining out and sharing food with others, it goes deeply against. This program is strict ya’ll. Another thing I remember about being a vegan? I barely ate out or with others. I was in a relationship, we did it together, and for the most part holed ourselves up for the month. Relationship or not, I really missed the social aspect of dining. Maybe that just means I should be less strict? But then does it really work??? I’m torn.

I’m really curious… have you guys done it? Did you feel eons better? Did it change the way you cook for the good? Did you have to customize every meal you ordered at a restaurant? Not sure I can bring myself to do that last one. Do tell!  xx Clara

Image Source

  1. I did the Whole30 a few years ago and I actually made it! I still went out to eat and didn’t have to go crazy with custom orders (although I wasn’t super strict about asking if my steaks were cooked in butter). It definitely made me more aware of what I was eating and forced me to experiment with new foods (coconut EVERYTHING except the aminos which I find gross). I didn’t lose a ton of weight or feel the miraculous high of healthy eating (although I did get the food nightmares and other side effects the Whole30 calendar warns you about in the beginning) but I definitely think it’s something worth trying! Also, a tip: When dining out or at Happy Hour, find a specialty drink on the cocktail menu that looks good to you (I think fruity or lime-based drinks work best) and ask if they can make it substituting seltzer for the alcohol. You still get the flavor and fun of drinks without the buzz (or the cost since they usually just charge you for a soda!). My favorite Whole30 mocktail : Limes, mint and fresh raspberries muddled with seltzer- a great “faux-jito!”.

    • Clara

      Hey Chelle- appreciate your honestly about not feeling that “high” they talk about. I’m still debating on whether or not to actually do it, but if I DO do it, I’m definitely using your cocktail tip! xx

  2. I did a Whole 30 last September and it was an interesting experience. As you said, limiting your ingredients pushes you out of your comfort zone. It was fun to see how I could remix meats, vegetables, and fruits throughout the month although I did miss a lot of things - rice, oatmeal, happy hour. It did change the way I eat overall - less overly processed dairy like string cheese and more salad at meal times - but I wouldn’t say it made me feel a whole lot better physically although I did lose some weight during the month. I also allowed myself one cheat day, for a wedding I knew about before starting the Whole 30, and I definitely felt worse the day after the cheat day. Overall it was a good experience to challenge myself and to learn a bit more about the foods that make me feel good. After all, it’s only 30 days.

    • Clara

      Thanks so much for your insight, Deanne! The processed food is a big part- I don’t eat a ton now, but I feel like the process would make me really aware of how much I’m actually eating. Thank you!

  3. I’ve been struggling with whether to do the whole 30 or not as well! I did Gwyneth Paltrow’s week long cleanse about a year ago and found it incredibly labor intensive and hard to socialize while doing it. But, it helped my health in leaps and bounds (and my skin has never looked better). I think you really know what the pros and cons of the whole 30 could be. But just like eating vegan made you branch out with cooking, maybe doing the whole 30 will make you branch out with activities? So instead of meeting a friend for coffee or dinner, you could meet for a Soul Cycle and a green juice!

    PS: I’m so happy you are back to posting, you’re one of my favorite bloggers and really missed your posts!

    • Clara

      Hi Grace- aw thanks so much for your support! Means so much to have readers miss me :). I hadn’t heard of Gwyneth’s cleanse, but I’m definitely going to look into that. Thanks so much! xx

  4. Clara! I’m doing the whole30 right now! We should chat about it :)

    Overall, I was eating grain free before hand but giving up my beloved cheese and taking out the legumes and (natural) sugars was a very rough step into Whole 30. And giving up alcohol for 30 days is honestly the biggest challenge. I almost cried the other night I wanted a glass of red wine so bad. I’m not sure if it was the ‘sugar’ that I was actually craving or the alcohol…

    Firstly, regarding weight… I have gained weight, but I’ve also started working out. I’m not quite sure if the weight gain is from the muscle or is from me eating more animal fats in the form of meat than what I normally would… jury is out on this one.

    Secondly, I do feel really great. My mind feels clear and I have lots of energy. Normally, I peel myself out of bed in the morning half sleeping until mid-morning, but now I feel bright eyed and bushy tailed!

    So, I’m only on day 9 and I’m still a little on the fence due to the weight gain, but I’ll see what the next 21 days entail before I make up my mind!

    • Clara

      Hey you! So cool you’re doing it! I think the legumes and natural/unnatural sungars would be the hardest for me too. And I TOTALLY would have cried with you about that glass of red wine. Maybe the weight gain is muscle? The sleep feedback is super enticing. I’m pretty chipper in the morning but could always use more energy…. def emailing you about this :) xo

  5. Pingback: Why I Whole 30 | House of Earnest

  6. Beverly

    Clara, I am on day 26 of the Whole 30. Champagne, cheese, and shrimp are three of my favorites, and to give up two of them for 30 days seemed, at first, ridiculous. I’m surely eating a lot of shrimp, but the biggest two challenges for me have been going without milk and sugar in my morning coffee and missing traditional breakfast foods like oatmeal and fruit mixed with Greek yogurt. I can’t say I’m feeling anything magic, but I have been sleeping great and my energy levels are consistent. I’m not having a 3 pm slump. For me “slaying the sugar-dragon” has been challenging. I love those seasonal coffee beverages and baking for my family is complete joy. Your Nutella stuffed cookies are in high demand around here! I hope to maintain some of the healthy habits of the program and am so glad that I’m doing it, but for me it will not be a new way of life. I want black beans, pizza and a home-baked cookie now and then, just maybe less frequently than in the pre-whole 30 way. The sure thing is that there is never a good time to begin a specialized eating plan, you just have to circle a day on the calendar, prep for it, sip your carmel macchiato, kiss the cup good-bye and go for it!

  7. i really love this post. i did the whole30 a few years back and it really did change my perspective on food and open my mind up to new ways to prepare food. i also felt wonderful throughout the month, but you’re right, it definitely effected me socially. also, it did go against my philosophy on food which is everything in moderation. i think extremely restrictive diets can be a dangerous road to walk on, if you do not have to do them for health reasons. so, i wouldn’t recommend it for the long term but for the short term i think it can definitely be a growing month!

  8. La Torontoise

    Clara, how have you been?
    It’s the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. I was thinking of you. Reading your blog and enjoying your photography was an integral part of my work week. I am one of the very loyal cooks that has been trying out most of your recipes. Thank you for the inspiration and all the nice writing you brought to the readers.
    I wish you all the best!

  9. keep posting clara! I miss your posts! you’ve always been a blogger inspiration to me!


  10. Charlotte

    Clara! Where have you been?! Haven’t posted since August. Please please post x

  11. La Torontoise

    Happy New Year, Clara! Much health and prosperity!
    All the best from the South of France: -)

Leave a Comment