I don’t know about you guys but a few months into the COVID-19 craziness, my diet took a turn for the worst. I was over-working, over-stressing, and over-snacking. I started feeling out of control, exhausted, and frankly, unmotivated to change anything that I was doing.
It seems crazy looking back on that time because I truly did know that a change in diet could fix a lot of what I was feeling, and yet, I just couldn’t get myself to get back on track. It wasn’t until I started actually being able to see the physical effects of my diet (i.e. breakouts and bloating) that I decided I needed to do something. So, I started the Whole 30.
For those of you who don’t know what the Whole 30 is, it’s a reset diet meant to be strictly adhered to for 30 days before transitioning to a less-restrictive lifestyle diet. During those 30 days, all added sugar, grains, dairy, soy, and processed foods are completely eliminated, which leaves whole foods such as meat, vegetables, and fruits. (This is a very simplified description of the actual diet rules. If you are interested, I highly encourage you to check out the Whole 30 website, www.whole30.com).
There is a lot of debate as to whether or not one should start with a reset diet because of the fact that many people complete the reset diet and then jump right back into their old bad habits, reversing the progress made while on the reset. I’ll get to how to prevent this soon, but let’s first start with the pros of going cold turkey as opposed to easing yourself into a lifestyle plan.
Pro #1: Whether we like it or not, the food we eat directly affects the hormones in our body, such as estrogen, insulin, and cortisol. Cutting out all of the junk allows your hormone levels to stabilize quicker. Goodbye unnecessary stress, exhaustion, and breakouts!
Pro #2: Eliminating everything at once brings you clarity. Refined sugar is like crack. Seriously, though. It releases opioids and dopamine in our bodies just like cocaine does, resulting in addictive behavior. After a few days without it, you may realize that your old cravings for sugary snacks are replaced with cravings for whole, nutrient rich, naturally sweet foods, such as fresh fruit. But, if you give yourself the flexibility to have one sugary snack a day, the craving for refined sugar will not just go away.
Pro #3: A reset diet helps us to restructure our daily regimen. Ever heard the phrase, “Fail to prep, prep to fail?” With a reset diet, that phrase is more true than ever. When you get into the habit of planning and preparing food for a few days or even a whole week, you are much less likely to reach for the most convenient, least healthy food around, because you have the most convenient, healthiest food around as an alternative!
Pro #4: If you believe you have a food sensitivity, a reset diet is a great way to pinpoint which food is causing your symptoms. After completely eliminating any potential problem foods such as refined sugar, grains, dairy, and soy, you can slowly re-introduce each food group, making note of any symptom flare ups that occur along the way.
Pro #5: If weight loss is your goal, a reset diet is a fantastic way to jumpstart it. This may help you stay motivated to keep some of the newfound heathy habits you picked up during the reset as you transition to a long term weight loss/maintenance solution.
For me, the Whole 30 helped me to get back on track to a heathy lifestyle. During just 30 days, my face completely cleared up, my stomach flattened, my energy levels increased to far beyond what they were even before COVID-19, and I lost a total of 7 pounds, putting me just a few pounds short of my college Freshman year weight!
A lot of people get nervous towards the end of their reset diet because they know they can’t maintain it for a lifetime (nor should you) and they don’t want to lose all of their progress. The key to maintaining and ideally furthering your progress post-reset diet is planning. Before you even start a reset diet you should consider your long term goals. For me, ditching processed foods and refined sugar was a big one. The transition to maintenance from Whole 30 made this easy because I had already survived and thrived for 30 days without both of those things. The difference going forward is that I don’t have to tell myself “no” when I think a non-fruit dessert sounds good; I just opt for a healthier version, like my favorite honey sweetened almond butter and dark chocolate coconut cookies.
While I think reset diets are great, they’re not for everyone. You should always consult with a physician prior to starting any new diet.
Have you completed Whole 30 or another reset diet? I’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below!