1. Your Social Life Is Going to Suck
Cutting out drinking alone can make socializing difficult (even more so depending on your age and companions). Add the usual array of sugar and carbohydrates, and it becomes even harder.
What you may forget to realize is that a huge number of social events revolve around alcoholic consumption or food consumption. And brewery BBQs, 25 cent wing nights, and burger battles are definitely not on the menu.
There are technically some restaurants that have Whole30 options, but they are few and far between. At best they are a headache to order at and at worst, they can ruin your entire program.
While you can still go to these food-and-drink-based social events as a form of self-inflicted torture, avoiding temptations is the easiest route, and your social life will greatly suffer as a result.
But hey, it’s 30 days. Real friends should still be there a month later.
2. Friends Become Your Enemies
Some friends will be supportive of your Whole 30 endeavor. They will cheer you and say how impressed they are with you. Others won’t be so understanding. Some friends will take every opportunity to wave burritos under your nose and tell you to just “eat it already.”
They just don’t get it. They don’t appreciate that this new “diet” is making their beer-chugging, pizza-eating friend someone substantially less exciting. I think some of this attitude comes out of love; they want you to join in, to be part of the group, but you can’t – at least not for now.
Just be prepared for the naysayers.
3. Your Are Most Definitely Addicted
You may read other accounts of sugar withdrawals and think to yourself, “I don’t eat so much sugar, I should be fine.” Well, you know how they say sugar can be as addictive as cocaine? It shows.
When reading through what to expect with Whole 30, you’ll see that days 2-4 are often very hard for people. Your body goes into withdrawal and dammit, it wants that sugar (and bread)!
These withdrawal days affect people differently. Many note feeling exhausted and getting headaches.
For me, days 2-3 brought a cloud of heavy depression. I felt absolutely miserable and utterly hopeless. My life seemed ridiculous, I felt like a failure. I began seeking out counselors, frightened at how horrifically unhappy I was. After day 3 through, I felt considerably better, so I can only conclude that sugar had a pretty strong grasp on me.
Don’t be surprised when sugar plays the vengeful lover.
4. Don’t Tell People (At Least Not Right Away)
The first week into Whole 30, I was so excited about it that I would often explain to others (without prompting) why I was denying myself that red velvet cake my co-worker brought in, or why I had to forgo my usual vanilla latte.
It’s fine to share, but after explaining the project, when people asked how far in I was, I felt ridiculous saying, “oh, 4 days in.” It felt like forever, but I could see the mental eye-rolls in others. Of course good friends will be happy to support you every step, but for strangers, I’d say wait at least a week before you start touting the benefits of a low-carb lifestyle.
5. Your Relationship With Food Will Never Be the Same
I’ll be honest – I’ve never been a huge veggie eater. I like them and all, but next to heaps of pasta and rice, there was never a ton of room on my plate for veggies.
Cutting out my usual go-to foods made me re-examine the fruit and vegetables I often left by the wayside. Part of Whole 30 involves your taste buds changing, and never before had I realized how sweet tomatoes can be, or how satisfying a huge plat of veggies can be.
I learned how to crack a coconut and eat it (I also learned that coconuts are in fact nuts, which I discovered after eating half of an entire coconut and looking up the fat contents). I learned a whole new assortment of recipes, how vegetables could become noodles, and how cauliflower could become rice.
My relationship with fruit and vegetables was revitalized.
6. You May Become a Grocery Store Cynic
Once you begin checking labels and discover that some form of added sugar is in nearly everything at the grocery store, you’ll feel pretty frustrated. Maybe even furious.
I felt duped. These foods calling themselves “healthy” were still packed with added sugar. I began to feel like much of the grocery store was my enemy.
The bright side is that Whole 30 cuts down your time in the grocery store by half, since you end up basically just hitting the perimeters and never even bother venturing down the dangerous no man’s land middle lanes.
If you really want to get cynical about the food industry, be sure to watch Fed Up (a fascinating documentary about childhood obesity and added sugars in processed foods, available on Netflix) during your Whole30 session. It will reinforce your eating choices, but will likely make you super angry as well.
7. Don’t Call It a Diet
We know it’s not a diet, but calling it a “lifestyle change” sounds a bit self-congratulatory in my mind. So what do you call Whole 30?
It’s definitely best to avoid the word “diet,” as diets tend to be thought of as disposable, half-hearted endeavors, with people jumping on and falling off bandwagons every day (someone should really install safety belts in those things).
I tend to explain that I’m cutting out certain foods for 30 days to better understand how my body reacts to dairy, gluten, etc. This sounds smart and reasonable – plus it’s also true!
If you’ve done Whole 30, what tips do you wish someone gave you before starting? If you haven’t done Whole 30, what’s your biggest roadblock?