"You can do anything for 30 days," they say. But can you? Can you really? 
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey Styling: Lindsey Lower

Whole30, clean eating, the Paleo diet, cleanses, detoxing—the “dieting” list goes on and on, and at some point when you’re trying to reset, get a little healthier, or shed a few unwanted pounds, you really just need to pick a diet and stick to it. Simple as that. And, after hearing, seeing, and watching others go through the Whole30 experience time and again, I really wanted (kind of) to jump on board and give the whole experience a try.

Now, to give you a little insight to my life... my father was a pro athlete and I was a ballet and modern dancer for the majority of my life, so a wellness plan is my jam, and I operate my best when challenged. Also, willpower might as well be my middle name. Yeah, type-A the Nth degree. Or, at least I thought I was, until the Whole30. At first glance it looks great: protein, veggies, fruits, coffee, water—what more could you need? My husband thought the same. Although he was less jazzed about the idea of the Whole30 when I asked him to do it with me, but after couple of begging sessions, he decided to climb on board.

So, we embarked on our 30-day journey of no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, no gum, NO FUN. Eating healthy has always been a part of my life. My dad’s been putting turmeric on foods long before it was a “thing,” and apples and carrots are my favorite snacking foods. Really, I love them. That being the case, in this ambitious head of mine, the Whole30 looked pretty doable.

My plan was eggs + avocado + grapefruit for breakfast with coffee (black, of course), salad with chicken + olives + veggies + olive oil and vinegar for lunch, an apple + a handful of almonds for a snack, another snack of carrots + a hard-boiled egg, then a lean protein such as salmon, chicken, or pork tenderloin + a sweet potato + another fibrous vegetable for dinner.

Now, that wasn’t the meal plan the entire month, but meals like these are basically what we lived on for 30 days. Kind of... Except we broke. And this hurts my heart to share that we broke, because I hate failing, but we broke.

First of all. Gum. I know that the Whole30 isn’t about losing weight, it’s about reshaping your diet and teaching you how to crave healthy foods, which is all great, but no gum? That was hard to shake. When you can’t have chocolate, alcohol, or anything to satisfy your sweet tooth, gum is necessary. Or, at least it was in my book. They suggest chewing on mint leaves. Um, no thanks. I caved, and bought a pack of gum on the first day.

Second, alcohol. Yeah… so we definitely caved on that, too. On day 3. Call me what you want, but I wanted a glass of wine and my husband wanted a beer, so we gave ourselves alcohol. We kept it limited and restrictive, but we definitely gave in, and it was worth every bit of our sanity.

Here’s the thing, the Whole30 was great in so many ways. It helped me stop snacking out of boredom, realize how many added sugars I was putting in my body throughout the day, and helped me become more creative in the kitchen. I was able to experiment with many different ingredients, and find a new love for cauliflower rice, shaved Brussels sprouts, beets, and parsnips. It helped my husband shed more than 10 pounds and cut back on fast food and mindless unhealthy snacking. I think it probably helped him more than it did me, which is a win for me, to be honest.

But, it didn’t really change my life. I actually found myself craving things that I NEVER crave during those 30 days. I was literally dreaming of foods like muffins, cake, bagels—foods that I literally never eat. I just wanted all of the processed carbs, all of them.

Also, the coffee. I drank my coffee black for those 30 days, and loved it some days, but really hated it the others. More importantly, I also realized that the more black coffee I drank, the hungrier I was. I like putting cream in my coffee because it fills me up a little more. When I was drinking coffee with no cream or sugar, I found myself reaching for even more almonds, which add up really fast. And sorry (not sorry), but I just like my coffee a little tan.

Do I think it’s a good reset button? Yes. Do I think it’s perfect? No.

But then, no meal plan really is. You have to find what works for you. I am a huge advocate of eating fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins, but I do believe you should satisfy your cravings with healthy treats to help you from binge eating an entire bag of chips or package of cookies.

I find when I have a small piece of dark chocolate, even a half of a glass of red wine, a little cream in my coffee, or piece of toast, my cravings subside. So, I’ll take my learnings from the Whole30 and put them to good use, but probably never, ever do it again. I’m a huge fan of the Cooking Light Diet because it gives you a healthy meal plan with easy, satisfying meals and treats that help you feel satisfied so you’re not reaching for every donut that walks through the door. Back to the Whole30 though, it’s great if you want to learn how to cook more, grocery shop more mindfully, expand your recipe repertoire, and reset... but it’s not for everyone.