And just like that, my first whole 30 is officially over! Before I started, I was really nervous about how it would go, and the how I would handle the “carb flu”, and all the cravings. And now, here I am on the other side, totally sold on the whole 30 life and feeling really awesome. Even though I can see myself eating “whole 30” style most of the time, I am still going to do the reintroduction process, because I approached the Whole 30 as an experiment. And while I do feel great now, I think without the reintroduction process, I won’t have a complete set of data that I can compare and refer back to in the future. Because let’s face it, even with as good as I feel right now, I know there are going to be times like parties, special nights out, THANKSGIVING!, birthdays, Tuesdays, etc. where I’m going to want to eat a piece of cake, or stinky French cheese, or fresh baked bread, or any of the other things. And I want to know what to expect, and how to judge what’s “worth it”, and how to get back on track with feeling great after an indulgence.
I also kept a journal for the week prior to the Whole 30, and all during, as data on how I was feeling physically and emotionally, as well as energy levels, mood changes, skin changes, and anything else I could think of.
In addition to the journal, I incorporated several herbs on a daily basis to support me during the entire process. These are things that REALLY helped me this month. I can’t express this enough! I did have some difficult days (days 2 and 3), and a few cravings (mostly when I was tired or stressed), but I NEVER had the dreaded “carb flu”. A few of my friends and classmates are also doing a Whole 30 right now, and are reporting some pretty awful symptoms, at least from their first week. And this isn’t to say that the Whole 30 wasn’t a big change in diet for me, because it was. My meals in general were usually pretty healthy, but I definitely indulged in that pizza if I didn’t feel like cooking after an extra long day of work, or dessert several times a week, and my meals, though ‘healthy’ weren’t always very satiating. I had a snack (again ‘healthy’ like fruit or seaweed), most mornings and afternoons. So this change was actually pretty significant, and I think it went much more smoothly than expected, mostly because of the medicinal herbs that I incorporated into my life.
I think this is a good time for a disclaimer to say that while I am studying herbalism, I am still just a student, and I’m not trying to say anyone should do exactly what I do just because I said so. Everybody and every body is different. I think if you want to incorporate herbs into your Whole 30, or your life in general, that’s AWESOME, and you should do a little research before deciding what to incorporate. Taking your health into your own hands is extremely important. But I will also say, that these herbs are extremely safe, and easy to find (either through wildcrafting if you can confidently identify them, or through your local natural foods store), and there is a bunch of research out there to support this.
The first herbs I incorporated were nettle and tulsi. Both plants are adaptogens, which means that they aid the body in it’s response to stress. This can be stress from foods that are harmful, work stress, emotional stress- anything really. I figured that a huge diet change would add a pretty significant amount of stress to my body, so I began drinking these teas a few days before I started my Whole 30. I drank the tulsi a couple times a day (just packed a couple teabags when I packed my lunch). And the nettles I drank throughout the day. It is important to note that nettles are PACKED with minerals, and to get the full benefit that the plant has to offer, you need to make an overnight (or just several hours) infusion rather than just a tea. I would put dried nettles in the bottom of a french press, pour boiling water over it, and let it infuse overnight. In the morning I would press it out, and put the tea in a mason jar to take with me to work. I drank it cold with a splash of almond milk. But, if you prefer warm tea, you could also add warm water to it.
Hibiscus is beautiful red flower that can be eaten if you get it fresh, or made into tea when it is dried. I wanted to break the habit of having a snack after getting home from work- I wasn’t hungry, it was JUST a habit- so I started making hibiscus tea. Hibiscus is incredibly bold in both flavor and color, and it was just what I needed. Something flavorful to sip on while I walked the dog, or did some studying, but nothing that I needed to eat. Because again, I wasn’t hungry. It was just a habit that I’d built. And I don’t have a problem with having tea as a habit in the afternoon. I never added anything to the tea, so I wasn’t making it an unhealthy habit. And the more tea, the merrier!
Every night I also incorporated chamomile into my routine. When I was preparing the water for the overnight nettle steep, I used some of the water for chamomile tea. Chamomile is a gentle sedative, and while it didn’t necessarily put me to sleep, it definitely helped me sleep more soundly. It’s incredibly relaxing to the body, and helped me calm down enough to just lay in the bed and drift off, rather than playing on my phone while my dog and fiance snore until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
Last but definitely not least, is marshmallow. Several of the above herbs can be pretty drying, and I tend to run dry anyway, so I wanted to incorporate something to help keep me hydrated. Marshmallow, when prepared with cold water is a highly moistening herb. Usually, you want to pour cold water over marshmallow and let it sit for several hours until the liquid gets thick and kinda slimy. I wasn’t a huge fan of the way that tasted, or felt in my mouth so I just put a pinch in the bottom of a water bottle and kept adding more water to the same bottle as I drank it throughout the day. It was just enough moisture to keep me from drying out.
So that’s my Whole 30 wrap up! Overall, I would say that I would definitely do it again! I’m looking forward to collecting data from my reintroduction process, and applying that information to future Whole 30s. I’m also looking forward to developing this blog a little more, and start sharing some of the recipes and cooking tips that I’ve been accumulating.
I also want to know- how did you survive your Whole 30? I love hearing healthy tips from other people, so, please share!!