How I Survived (and Enjoyed) the Whole30


May you fight for truthA couple months ago, I went insane.

For some reason, I decided it would be a great idea to participate in the Whole30. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what I lovingly refer to as “the no fun diet,” here are the “Cliff’s Notes”: for 30 days, you commit to eating a clean, simple diet made up of fruits, veggies, and animal proteins. In other words, no dairy, alcohol, sugar, grains (non-gluten & glutenous alike), legumes, and various preservatives and additives commonly found in the average American diet. (Here’s an exact list of the do’s and don’t’s.)

So now that you’ve got the rules, let me tell you a little bit about me. Cheese, bread, and sweets are the only three food groups; wine is my religion; dinner is, quite frankly, only a vehicle that leads directly to dessert. Another important thing to know about me is my personal motto: “I do crosswords in pen.” In other words, I don’t know the meaning of moderation. I either eat the entire pizza or zero pizza. It’s either a bottle of wine or none of it. Go big or go home. Do nothing half-way. You get my drift.

I started my journey with a weekly trip to my neighborhood farmers market where I stocked up on fruits and veggies. Before I started, I was planning on giving it a go as a vegetarian and if at some point I felt like I needed meat to supplement, I would go for it, no apologies needed. I also consulted the great all-knowing bottom-line on most topics (Pinterest) to help me find my arsenal of Whole30-approved recipes. I was ready.

Or so I thought.

For the sake of sincere and true reporting, here are a few notes I jotted down during the month:

“Day 4: NAUSEOUS! Cravings are bad. I’m really tired. The food is delicious, but all I want is cheese.”

“Day 12: Our dog jumped on the kitchen counter and ate my breakfast. I cried. Totally over it.”

“Day 19: Going out to eat is impossible. If I have to eat one more spinach salad with grilled chicken and balsamic vinaigrette, I will kill myself. Tonight I will soothe my broken heart by curling up on the couch with “You’ve Got Mail” and a banana drowning in almond butter.”

(Obviously, I only found it necessary to write down my experiences when they were negative.)

But in all honesty, there were times that were really really hard. I quickly learned that being a vegetarian wasn’t gonna cut it and I went to the store as fast as I could and bought as much meat as I could find. It was so disheartening to read the labels on foods and realize all the crap I had been putting in my body. And it was pretty much impossible to eat out at all–on the one hand, almost nothing on a restaurant menu is Whole30 compliant and on the other, I just didn’t want to be a pain and make all of my friends feel like they had to live with my food choices.

However, I wish now that I had taken the time to write down more of the positive experiences because shockingly, there were more than a few. After getting past the first week of hell, I started to notice some real and significant changes. My energy level was much more steady throughout the day and overall much higher. My clothes started to loosen up and I found myself walking a little taller. My normally oily and hormonally-induced-problem skin was clearer. As the month went on, my hunger subsided and my meals started to become enough. My cravings were almost completely gone. And by the last day, I felt like a total superhero. Plus, in 30 days, I lost 2.5 inches off my waist and 2 inches off my hips. And all I did was change my food.

Bottom line: the Whole30 changed my life. Since I finished the 30-days and have reintroduced foods back into regular rotation, it has become crystal clear to me how different foods affect me and which ones I should really try to stay away from. For example, the first day back in the real world of food, I ate peanut butter and my hands and feet started to tingle and then my arms and legs went completely numb for a couple hours. No idea why, but I’m happy to put the peanut butter back on the shelf for now. And I’m still in the process of trying to evaluate the exact culprit for this, but I’ve narrowed it down to either grains or legumes that are exacerbating my De Quervain Syndrome, which is completely debilitating at times. And anytime I decide to allow myself one more cookie or one more glass of wine, I see just how easy it really is to lose all control with food.

If you are considering giving the Whole30 a shot, there are a few things I’d recommend to make it easier for you:

1. Buy this book and read it while you’re going through your 30 days. It helped keep me in the Whole30 mindset, when most of the time the only thing I really wanted to think about was a wheel of cheese.

2. Dust off your crockpot. I made at least one crockpot meal per week while on the Whole30. Not only was everything delicious, but I always had leftovers, making lunch the next day as easy as pie. Well, obviously not pie, but you get the idea…

3. Find a Whole30 support group or buddy to do it with you. I had a group of Facebook friends (many of whom I’d never met before!) who were all going through the journey together and I couldn’t have done it without their support and encouragement.

Wanna see what I was eating during the Whole30? Check out my Whole30 Pinterest board for some yummy recipes I couldn’t have lived without.

*DISCLAIMER: Neither the author of this blog post, nor any other member of Denver Metro Moms Blog, was compensated for the opinions expressed in this post or for participating in the Whole30 program. All experiences and opinions are solely that of the author of this post.*

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Megan Lombardo is mama to two awesome kiddos, proud wife to a family medicine doctor, and a professional musician and piano instructor. She and her family lived in Denver for a handful of years before embarking on their current adventure in the mountain town of Salida. Megan will be focusing on helping your family find the easiest ways to experience all the hidden gems and lovely family-friendly excursions that you can get to within a short drive of the Denver metro area. One of the greatest things about Denver is its proximity to the mountains—so get out there and explore! When she’s not blogging, you can find Megan hiking around the Arkansas River valley, having a beer at a brewery while chasing her kids around, listening to music at Riverside Park with friends, playing music with her husband, or (still) ripping out carpet and tearing down wood paneling in her 1899 home in Salida. Megan is excited to connect with all of you!


  1. I believe I may be having the same wrist pain issue you have De Quervain’s syndrome. I just cut gluten this week and hasn’t seemed to help with it so far.. How long were you grain legume free before the pain subsided? Did you still have pain even on the whole 30? Did you continue to eat that way? I did a whole 30 acouple years ago. But only had wrist issues since the end of my last pregnancy so since about August. I have joint pain in my knees as well sometimes but the wrist/ thumb pain is the worst.

  2. I’m in the midst of my 4th WholeWhatever. I’m running through Thanksgiving and then back on it till Christmasish. I’m about a week in and, like you, am seeing changes that I’m very happy about. I’m obsessed with recipes (just printed out a chicken salad with avocado and other goodies), shopping way too much, and eating well. I’m noticing the sugar cravings are easing up. I’m an addict, so not sure the sugar demon will ever be 100% gone.

    Bravo for making it and thanks for telling us about it!


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