My husband and I decided to try doing the Whole30 for the month of January. I had just finished reading "It starts with Food" by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig, and had heard so many incredible things from friends about the program. If you are not familiar with what the Whole30 is, I encourage you to read more about it at Whole30.com. In a nutshell, it is "a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."

The program is based off of 4 different 'Good Food Standards', and if any foods fail at one or more of the standards, you are not supposed to eat it. Overall, you are not supposed to eat any sugars or sweeteners, alcohol, seed oils, grains and legumes, or dairy. Your diet should consist of protein, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats such (as olives, coconut, avocado, etc.) It sounds totally doable, but when you start reading the ingredients of things you thought were "healthy," you realize very quickly that you absolutely have to plan your meals ahead of time and be really proactive when it comes to eating. 

My husband and I started on January 1st which was right after we came back to NYC from the holidays, and immediately had to throw out basically all the food in our refrigerator! Not to mention, we both have a huge sweet tooth and had given each other so much chocolate in our stockings for Christmas, and had to hide it all very fast, haha! ((Yes, call us crazy but we did actually hide the chocolate...we couldn't possibly throw it away!)) At the back of the "It starts with Food" book, there are several recipes and ideas for meals. We went major grocery shopping and tried to plan for as many meals as possible up front. I spent way more time in the kitchen than usual, I cooked way more than I ever do on a regular basis, and we were forced to get super creative with meals so we wouldn't get tired of eating the same things over and over. My sister was a tremendous help to us because she is a nutritional health coach ((visit her website here!)) and was able to give us a lot of ideas for meals and teach us how to kick sugar cravings, etc. 

Overall, I am very impressed with how well we did with the program. The first 14 days we were 100% compliant with the Whole30. It was so hard to adjust in the beginning, especially because you cannot really eat out much since most places use canola oil to cook everything in. We ate at home every day and made every meal. That was such a challenge considering we both have very busy schedules, but we somehow made it work! The second half of the month, we did make some exceptions. Other than a weekend in Disney World ((sugar, duh!)), we kept very close with the program. To be fair, the guidelines of the Whole30 do not allow you to cheat at all in any way because the point of the program is to get everything out of your system- that way when you reintroduce it, you know exactly how each type of food affects you... but we knew going into it we might have to alter it slightly to fit our lifestyle. We got good at packing lunches and figuring out a small handful of restaurants that we could go to, but it was pretty hard for me to maintain my measurements in order to stay the right size to work as a fit model. When I started to notice my measurements getting slightly smaller in the last week, Zach was quick to start force-feeding me carbs, haha! I was definitely not trying to use the program as a way to lose weight, just as a catalyst to healthier eating in the new year. 

Even though we did make some allowances in the second half of the program, I can't even explain how much better we felt during the Whole30 in general! We both had much more energy, didn't feel groggy and sleepy after a long day of work, and slept amazing at night! It took a while, but sugar cravings did calm down and I know I stopped feeling like I NEEDED to have something sweet after every meal. As soon as we were done with the 30 days and started eating like we normally do, I felt so gross, full, bloated, and uncomfortable. I missed the feeling I felt on the Whole30 and really want to alter our meals to be more like they were during the program. 

Anyways, if you have ever considered giving it a shot, I highly recommend it and would love to answer any specific questions you may have! Sorry this was a much longer post than usual, but just wanted to recap our experience for those who are interested. For those of you who are still with me, thanks for reading!! <3

Xo- Tara

PS- Here are a few of the meals + snacks that we ate!