You’re finished with the 30 days of Whole30 and you’re wondering should I really do introductions?
Meh, you’re thinking you probably don’t need them because you already know that (insert food group) upsets you so you’re just going to avoid it.
YES, yes you do need them.
Lemme tell you about my first Whole30 in March of 2014… well, Whole29. I made it 29 days (after starting over on day 5 because I couldn’t resist french fries) and a friend came into town for his birthday. Without a second thought, I popped open a bottle of wine, poured myself a glass and gulped it down. I specifically remember texting my friend I was doing Whole30 with and saying I’m done, day 29 is just as good as day 30. Except it’s not. I would be so upset if a client sent me that today because I know how not true that is. I also didn’t do reintroductions. Guess what that Whole29 did for me? Made me eat healthy for 29 days, and that’s it.
Skip to my next (really first) Whole30. I made it through the 30 days, skipped reintroductions. Did pretty well with my eating for a month after Whole30 and was back off the wagon.
Finally, I decided that I needed to do Whole30 the correct way. I read the books, I stuck with it for 30 days, I did all of my reintroductions and I found out that I should limit gluten and diary because they both made me feel less than awesome (an understatement). I was rocking my food freedom. I did Whole30 the way it was written, with 100% commitment to everything the rules say and I was set up for success for my food freedom. This my friends, is why Melissa always says, finish your 30 days, no slip-ups, and do your reintroductions. It’s the only way it’s been tested to work!
I wish I could say after that Whole30 I never, ever fell of the wagon again… but I did. And it happens! The difference this time was that I didn’t let myself get into a cycle of thinking “I ate unhealthy today so I’ll just keep eating unhealthy until Monday when I will start eating healthy again”. I would fall off (when I say fall off, I mean binging or eating something I didn’t really want, not eating something that I deemed worth it) and then get right back on at the next meal. This was one of the most dramatic changes I had from Whole30. I was always the “I’m just going to start over on Monday” person. Instead, when I ate healthy at the next meal, I thought a lot about WHY I was falling off the wagon again and again… because Whole30 teaches you to be mindful of what you’re eating.
Fast forward to December 2016, after completing a couple more Whole30s, I was still occasionally binging and getting sick from things like pop-tarts (which by the way, are def not worth it). I felt out of control when eating gluten most of the time (like eating an entire basket of bread at restaurants) and it was making me really sick, but when you feel out of control with something, it’s hard to stop even when it does make you feel terrible. After reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, I realized that I was an abstainer and did better just cutting things out vs. trying to moderate, so I tried it with gluten. After a couple of weeks, I felt like a whole new person. I was consistently eating healthier, I wasn’t binging at all, and my stomach problems were almost completely gone.
After a few months of being gluten-free, I knew that being gluten-free was the only way to avoid feeling sick and binging, so I committed to it 100%. I haven’t had any gluten since December 2016 and I don’t miss it at all.
Another way I maintain my food freedom is only keeping Paleo food in my house. I don’t eat Paleo 100% of the time. Actually, since going gluten free, my gut has healed enough that I can tolerate small amounts of dairy, even ice cream, but since I know I’m not a moderator, I don’t keep it in my house. If I want ice cream, I will eat it when I’m out. If I want a gluten-free brownie, I will buy one at a bakery that I like instead of making an entire pan of my own. When I made the switch to a gluten-free life, I never got into the habit of buying bread, cookies, crackers, etc. so I made a conscious effort to not start that habit. I am also still very cognizant of the ingredients I am putting into my body, not to the point of obsession, but I do my best on knowing checking ingredients. Just because it’s gluten-free does not mean it gets the green light.
After living like this for a year, I have become a lot more of a moderator. Right now, I have a gluten-free cookie and brownie in my fridge from a bakery in Philly, and I haven’t wanted to eat them yet – so I haven’t. Honestly, I forgot about them most of today, which is one of my biggest non-scale victories yet. In the past, I would obsess over them. I would be thinking about how I couldn’t wait to eat them even though I didn’t even really want them. Now, I just don’t eat them because I simply don’t want them yet.
Although I have these in my house, I generally do not keep sweets or “healthier junk food” in my house. Why? Because if I don’t have these things in my house, it takes the willpower out of the equation. When I’m tired or stressed, it’s easier for me to just not have the option of binging on some sweets/chips in hopes of feeling better. It’s forced me to learn other ways to deal with my emotions.
Personally, Whole30 was the very first step in my health journey, but if I stopped at Whole30, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I had to work through a lot of emotional trauma, anxiety, and give up a little bit of control around my food before I really found food freedom. If you are stuck in the “Whole30” cycle, I suggest you stop doing Whole30 and find out the root cause of what’s causing your binging, sugar addiction, etc. I can honestly say that therapy is the best thing I did for my food freedom.
Everyones Food Freedom journey looks different. Mine wouldn’t necessarily work for you, and yours might not work for me. That’s the beauty of Food Freedom. It’s yours.
Have you found your food freedom or are you still struggling to find the sweet spot? Would love to hear about it!